Since I’ve yet to find an actual permanent job in my field, I decided to try substitute teaching as one of my things to do in the meantime. I’ve never had any teaching experience, or any experience interacting with children in a classroom setting. I thought it’d be an interesting, fairly easy position.
I’ve heard people say that substitute teaching is nothing more than glorified babysitting. I don’t think that’s necessarily true; I mean, I still remember learning about Ponce de León and the Fountain of Youth from a sub in 4th grade. It was completely nothing to do with math, but it still managed to stick with me after all these years. Anyway, before I actually begin subbing, I was required to attend a two-part substitute workshop, 3 hours per session.
These workshops go on throughout the year, at different schools across the county. The earlier dates were already booked, so I had to settle for early October. My particular workshop was at a local middle school. It was my first time sitting in a middle school since 10 years ago, when I was a skinny, nerdy little 8th grader.
On the first day, I took a seat at the very back of the packed classroom. Just like old times.
There was a mix of people in the room. Some were early 20s, others looked about in their 50s, a variety of different races. I’d say there were more women than men. There were retired police officers, former government workers, and current education students training to pursue actual teaching. And then there was me.
The woman teaching the class was an assistant principal at an elementary school in the area. A really kind, sweet, funny woman who wanted to help us understand the pretty basic material in the least boring way possible. She was bursting with positive energy, wit, and genuinely helpful advice on succeeding as a substitute teacher. It made me wish I had more teachers like her when I was a student.
Somewhere between signing attendance sheets, group activities, presenting in front of the class, having my Internet access to WordPress.com blocked during the restroom break, and waiting for my mother to collect me after class, I’d started to feel a bit like a student again myself. I was even “graded” on an assignment from the first day. I received a “Fantastic!” comment on my paper. When the two-day course was completed, we applauded the wonderful instructor, received our completion certificates, and hoped that this would be the beginning of our careers as substitute teachers.
No, this isn’t something I’d like to do forever, I still would very much prefer working in journalism as my first career. So in the meantime, I hope this works out.