Have I ever mentioned that I have an enormous, gigantic, and very large respect for teachers?
Well I do.
Mr. D and my very good friend Esta are engaged to be married, meaning Mr. D needed some time off to go and see her, meaning I substitute taught for four days. Meaning I heard a vast overuse of the phrase “Well Mr. D lets us…”
“Well Mr. D lets us lie under our desks during story time!”
“Well Mr. D lets us get check goals in math!”
“Well Mr. D gives us extra break all the time!”
“Do I look like Mr. D?” I said finally.
“Yes,” said an ornery student.
“It’s the beard, isn’t it?” I said, rubbing my chin.
We all laughed. So there were some good times. There were also some very weird problems that cropped up.
Of course there is going to be a student who farts and makes faces in class just to annoy the members of the opposite gender sitting next to them. But would you expect the farting student to be female?
Another thing. We like our fourth graders to learn about how birds have light-weight skeletons so they can fly. There are other things, such as the Aztec practice of ripping the heart out of their human sacrifices, that we’d rather them not learn until they’re older. However, in the off chance that they inadvertently learn both, which do you think they will discuss enthusiastically and pantomime and draw on the chalkboard?
SIGH. Again, not a problem I expected to have.
Some of my favorite moments:
Student: (playing with my cell phone) Why do you have a key on your phone?
Me: (dramatically) It’s the key to my heart!
Student: (skeptical) Oh really?
Me: Uh huh. And do you wanna know who has the key to my heart?
Me: Look on the back of my phone.
(Student obediently flips phone over.)
Student: Abraham Lincoln! But he’s dead!!!
Ha ha ha ha ha. I got such a kick out of that one. (And if you’re wondering why I had my cell phone on the desk, instead of focusing 100% on my students, it was so that I could text Mr. D asking questions like “do you really let your kids have extra break all the time?”)
(Only I didn’t actually ask that question. Because I was pretty sure I already knew the answer.)
Now. It’s one thing to substitute teach. It’s quite another to substitute teach and direct the school Christmas play. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were full of frantic rushing here and there and everywhere, finding someone to watch my class while I ran play practice, safety-pinning costumes together, and trying to explain why Aztec’s cutting their hearts out was not “awesome.”
In the days before my subbing started I was convinced I wasn’t going to make it. I have such fatigue issues that a six-hour day of moderate labor is the max I can put in, and here I was running frantic eight-hour days. But I did make it, and in all four days I only felt fatigued once.
(Mercifully, the time I got fatigued, my class had an hour-long music class with Miss Stephanie and I was able to recuperate.)
The other day I met Shawn Graber, who I mentioned in “People I Facebook Stalk and Secretly Wish I Could Meet,” and he started telling me all about how I should go on a gluten-free diet. Within a day, my mom came home from a book signing and said that a girl came up to her and asked about me. This girl had read my book, and had had lots of health issues herself, but had found better health once she started eating gluten free.
I started unconsciously avoiding gluten, and after about a day of that I had a lot of energy and decided I had better try a gluten free diet again.
Funny thing: It isn’t NEARLY as hard as I remember it being. Maybe once you go on enough random diets in life, avoiding food seems second nature.
So yes, even though I’ve been tested for both Celiac disease and wheat allergy and come up negative in my past, I’m tentatively crediting my gluten-free-ness for my ability to substitute teach and direct the Christmas play with minimal fatigue.
The Christmas play itself was pretty successful. The title of the play was “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” so when I told people what I was doing it sounded like I was directing a Christmas pageant and bragging that it was the best ever.
In the play, six siblings, the Herdmans, a bunch of rowdy dirty kids from the wrong side of town, end up having the main roles of the church Christmas pageant. The pageant director tries to control the chaos.
In real life, I was trying to control the chaos, because the kids I had playing the Herdmans decided that they could hit people and act rowdy all the time because that’s what the Herdmans were supposed to do.
When the pageant director in the play says, “you must all come to every rehersal,” one little girl in the front row was supposed to raise her hand and say, “what if we get sick?”
Would you believe that girl was the one actor who actually got sick? I literally had to try and replace her at the last minute. Okay, the last ten minutes, but close enough to deserve a “literally.”
All in all, though, the play went well. And the substitute teaching went well. And tomorrow I get a nice vacation to celebrate “End of The World Day.”
Happy end of the world everybody!