Substituting Last Week

I’m sitting in my old classroom today, Mr. Wilborn’s Speech & Debate classroom. I sat right here four and a half years ago. Things in my life were different then, but I was very much the same as I am now. I suppose if I were to have asked myself back then if I could have seen myself substitute teaching in this very room four and a half years in the future, I would have said yes. Maybe especially in that class I would have said yes. Mr. Wilborn was probably around 23 or 24 when he was teaching us and I always thought that was awesome. He knew what was up and he didn’t care to go on powertrips or anything else. He was very straightforward about trying to get us in the mindset for college and he taught us life lessons as often as he taught us book lessons, I loved him for that. I loved that he cared about all of us truly learning, not just memorizing and forgetting.

It’s hard to know if I’m doing a good enough job substitute teaching. Every class has a student or two that says I was a a great substitute (they even clapped a little this morning) and told me they definitely want me back again, but sometimes I wish I could actually teach some and tell them what’s up: here’s what college is like, here’s a little bit about what life is like, here is what is important about high school, etc. I know I wanted that when I was in high school, but I don’t suppose I ever expected it to come from a substitute. We have single-serving interactions with substitute teachers usually and it’s hard to get much of anything out of them. My favorite were the ones that were cool with us and didn’t get all bent out of shape if we talked during class. I liked the ones that told us what was up and let us be, finishing up homework, relaxing for a change or maybe just talking with our friends who we hardly ever get to talk to during class. That could really make for a great day. We would get our work done, which was usually busywork and we all knew it (including the teacher), but we would have time to relax, talk, hang out and enjoy some free time. I definitely do that when I am a substitute (and I think that’s what the kids love so much), but is there a place to inject some wisdom in as well?