Sunday, September 28, 2008

Life As a Sinking Sub

I think I may be losing my mind.

Some people figure I'm already a couple tacos short of a combination plate for willingly plunging into my third year as a substitute teacher. But it isn't the substitute teaching itself that's causing the marbles to fall out of my ears. I've already come to terms with the nuances of substitute teaching--the incomprehensible lesson plans ("Can anyone read Mr. Smith's handwriting?"), the classroom doors that lock behind us during fire drills (subs don't get keys), the kids who switch seats in class ("Forget it, buddy. I'm never going to believe your name is Nancy."), and the million other things you get used to, and eventually master, when you've been a sub for several years.

I'm okay with the act of substitute teaching. I am not okay with being a substitute teacher.

See, I have this bachelor's degree in education. I am a licensed teacher. Three years ago I graduated at the top of my class from a prestigious university. Teaching is in my blood, my cells, my DNA. It is all I have ever wanted to do. It is who I am.

And I live in Ohio, where teachers are a dime a dozen, and none of that matters.

I substitute teach because I cannot get a "real" teaching job, and this is what is making me lose my mind. I am changing from the inside out, and I don't like where this metamorphosis is heading.

The other day, while working at the local middle school, I met a new teacher who had been hired for a position that I had also interviewed for, but (obviously) not received. This teacher (who had no idea how passionately I coveted her job) came across the hall to see me. She introduced herself. She smiled. She asked how things were going, if I was getting along okay...and I was seized with a hatred so intense that it actually frightened me.

It was as if I had split into two people. On the outside, the Nice Miss Sub smiled and nodded and tried to converse in a civilized manner. But inside, there was this Evil Miss Sub controlling my thoughts, my emotions, my soul.

New Teacher: Hi! How's everything going for you over here?

Nice Miss Sub: (Big smile!) Oh, just fine.

Evil Miss Sub: I'd be even better if you dropped dead, you witch. (Only Evil Miss Sub didn't say "Witch"....)

New Teacher: Are the kids behaving for you?

Nice Miss Sub: (Bigger smile!) Oh, sure. They're perfect angels.

Evil Miss Sub: How dare you patronize me! I don't need your help. I've probably been teaching longer than you have! Whose butt did you kiss to get this job, anyway? (Only Evil Miss Sub didn't say "butt"....)

New Teacher: Well, let me know if you need anything!

Nice Miss Sub: (Biggest smile yet!) Will do! Thanks!

Evil Miss Sub: (Not worth repeating.)

The thing is, I really am a nice person (didn't I censor Evil Miss Sub's thoughts?). It's just that every time I get passed over for a job, every time I get the cold shoulder in the teachers' lounge, every time a kid tries to trick me because he figures I don't know the rules, every time I have a wonderful day of teaching and I wish with all my heart that this were my classroom...every time, I feel a little piece of me wither and harden, turning me into someone I'm not.

So I figure I have a couple of options. I can grow angry and resentful (been there). I can cry and grow despondent (done that). Or I can try to see the humor, the bright side in my life as a sinking sub.

That's why I'm here.


MAR said...

I came across your blog, because I am a certified teacher as well, and was looking to find some sub blogs. I can totally relate to where you are, as I worked last year as a teacher in CT. I moved to Chicago in the summer, not realizing finding a teaching job would be impossible here. What's worse, finding a SUBSTITUTE teaching job here is impossible, as well. Who knew? I find myself thinking lots of evil thoughts.. Don't be discouraged. (that's what I try to tell myself)

Jenny Christ said...

Great post, just wish you’d post a bit more often!

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