You Know I’m Right: Returning to classroom as substitute teacher rewarding experience

I got an email from a former colleague asking me if I would substitute teach her classes for two days so she could visit her family. Well, it was flattering to be asked and I knew this teacher to be an outstanding professional as well as a long-time friend, so I reluctantly agreed. I was reluctant because I have a lot of things on my plate! October is National Stamp Collecting month which is a busy time in the philatelic world. Then there is managing my finances. I like to buy my loving wife of some 40 years (MLWOS40yrs) expensive gifts even though I don’t usually know about these purchases until I get the charges. Golf, biking, and travel to and from South Carolina take up the rest of my free time.

I was also reluctant because, as my regular readers (both of them) are well aware from a column of several years ago, substitute teaching requires a skill set much different from that required of the regular classroom teacher. Having not been in a classroom since prior to the pandemic, I wasn’t sure I was up to the task. I suspect I was facing the same sort of apprehension experienced by Rob Gronkowski returning to the Tampa Bay gridiron after retirement at the behest of his friend Tom Brady. Or Simone Biles, after winning gold at the 2016 Olympics and then sitting out events during the 2020 games suffering from the “twisties.” Then this year she has become the world champion gymnast again and destined for the Paris Olympics next summer. Yes, that was the kind of pressure that I was facing.

However, once I entered the hallowed halls of Granville High, all my concerns vanished. I was greeted warmly by my former colleagues and four of the retired teachers that were also subbing that day. I entered the classroom and as I expected, the very thorough lesson plans were on the teacher’s desk. She had added some helpful hints about each class as to their behavior and capabilities and the bell schedule. Everything proceeded as advertised and I had a very pleasant day.

That was Friday but my assignment included a return on Monday, which happened to be the first day of Spirit Week prior to Homecoming. The theme for Monday was “pajama day.” When I prepared to leave the house clothed in a brand-new set of pajamas that I had set aside in the unlikely event that I need to overnight in a hospital, MLWOS40yrs blocked my exit. “Where do you think you are going?” I explained the situation and she said, “Oh no, that is undignified. Change.” I told her that undignified was sort of the purpose of the exercise, but choosing not to die on that particular hill, I changed into what I thought she would think was more appropriate attire.

Again, a very positive experience. I was quite impressed with how respectful and supportive the Granville High School students were. As a trained professional (apparently once you have reached that level it doesn’t go away) it would not have mattered if the kids were not on their best behavior, but my experience was very positive. The school day sped by. At one point a student asked if I knew that I was wearing the same outfit that appears on my ID tag picture. Note to self: time to visit Cosco and update my wardrobe.

If you are looking for some part-time work, subs are in big demand. You may find it as rewarding and entertaining as I did. See you at the coffee pot. You know I’m right.