Substitute Teaching

By Junior Johnson

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Many years ago while living in a different parish I made the unwise decision to offer being a substitute teacher on my days home from working as a production supervisor in the Oil and Gas Industry.

While visiting friends who were coaches and teachers, I said I was bored on my days home.  I wasn’t a fisherman nor did I play golf, and I lived in an apartment so there wasn’t much handy work to do. One of my friends said I should go to the School Board Office and interview.

After I received my ID card it wasn’t long before I received my first assignment.  I was excited and nervous as I introduced myself to the principal and clocked in.

Trying to get the day started with the assignments left by the fourth graders’ teacher proved to be more difficult than I anticipated.  I continued to tell them to sit down. It was impossible to get them quiet at the same time.

Perhaps it was because recess was right after lunch, but when we returned to the classroom for the evening session they seemed more orderly. It was just the calm before the storm.

As I passed out more busywork the rowdiness began to pick up again.  It was back to telling them to sit down, be quiet, and get back to your seat.  I wanted to scream.

As I clocked out the principal asked if I could take a second grade class the next day.  I smiled and said of course and rushed back to my apartment where I fixed a large adult beverage, and then another as I relaxed in the QUIETNESS of my living room.

I wasn’t as emotionally drained after a day of managing a multimillion-dollar Oil & Gas Facility in the Gulf of Mexico with its challenges and dangers as I was after a day with 20 10-year-olds. As I drifted off to sleep my thoughts were that those second graders would be better.  I was wrong.

My second grade class turned out to be more unruly than the fourth graders.  They seemed to have endless amounts of energy.  I was hoarse when I made it back to my apartment that evening.

I eagerly returned for my two weeks supervising my crew offshore in a very stressful environment, though not nearly as stressful as substituting.

I returned home fully relaxed and ready to tackle the kids again.  I found that I had an assignment the next day at a different school with another fourth grade class.

Nothing changed from one school and class to another.  It was the same old thing with me telling them to be quiet, get back in your seat, or sit down.

My next assignment, a first grade class at a different school, was the last straw. After lunch it was time to take a nap.  Everyone complied except one little boy who kept running around disrupting the others.

After their nap I repeatedly asked him to take his seat but he wouldn’t.  He walked over to a little girl’s desk and pushed it over.  I helped her up, made sure she was okay and told the little boy to go to the office.

He refused.  He didn’t move and glared at me.  A six-year-old.

I finally called for the on-duty Sheriff’s deputy who said they had trouble with the boy before and escorted him from the room.

When I clocked out, I told the principal to remove my name from her sub list. I would call the School Board Office the next morning and resign.

When I had to have a FIRST GRADER removed from my classroom by a Sheriff’s deputy it meant I was definitely not right for the job.  This was something I knew I wasn’t qualified to deal with.

God Bless all the educators who do their job so well.  I know this is a rewarding profession but you deserve every dime you get.

I was better suited as an offshore facility supervisor.

12 thoughts on “Substitute Teaching

  1. Effective teachers are angels from heaven. I gave up substitute teachering, after a few weeks, because I was afraid that I was going to commit a violent crime against someone’s precious child. I know the feeling Junior.

    • Effective teachers are angels from heaven. I gave up substitute teaching after a few weeks, because I was afraid that I was going to commit a violent crime against someone’s precious child. I know the feeling Junior.

  2. Teacher’s often say that critics of the schools and politicians who create policy should be required to run a classroom for a stretch. Substitute teaching is especially difficult by comparison. 34 years in public school teaching was a rewarding career choice for me, but it came with the opportunity for regular daily interaction that allows for relationships to be built with students, and that leads to a sense of routine and orderly business to emerge. Substitute teachers don’t have that advantage and often represent a challenge to the students because they aren’t the “real” teacher. That is not fair, but it is the reality as they see it. While I loved my years in the classroom, the idea of substitute teaching is not something I would care to attempt. Even covering for missing teachers in my own school proved to be difficult when students knew I didn’t actually hold a gradebook over them. I am glad there are dedicated people who will substitute teach, but Junior’s experience is a very familiar story. Don’t judge the possibility of a teaching career based on substitute teaching stories. The latter is definitely the more difficult setting in which to achieve success and find satisfaction.

    • I salute your dedication Phillip. I remember during the chaos one time a little forth grader raised her hand and wanted me to explain how to work the assigned problems again. I showed her and she smiled with understanding. As I walked back to my desk I was so proud that I was actually able to help. I can understand how rewarding that must be for a REAL Teacher.

  3. Please share some stories about the challenges & dangers of supervising a
    multimillion-dollar Oil & Gas Facility in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • Alex I’ll post one on my wall that you may find interesting that the Journal posted a while back. If you don’t get it I’ll get the date it was published on and perhaps you an go to the archives and find it. I appreciate your interest.

    • You can find the story in the August 16, 2016 edition of the NPJ…Hope you enjoy Alex. Thanks for supporting the NPJ….and especially
      enjoying my little rambling stories..

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