When secondary school students walk into a classroom and see an unfamiliar adult, their immediate question is always, “Are you the sub?” Followed by either an inquiry into where the teacher has gone, or what we are going to do today.
When elementary students walk into the room, their first question is much more direct: “Are you nice?”
Rarely, if ever, do any of them expect me to actually know answers to anything more complicated than that. I actually had an argument with a second grader yesterday.
Me: “Mr. Phillips would like us to correct these sentences on the board. Who would like to read the first one for us?”
Cute Little Girl: “Yesterday, the boy where a hat to school.”
Me: “Do you see anything wrong with that sentence?”
Cute Little Girl: “Yeah, it should be the other wear, like w-e-a-r.”
I rub out “where” and replace it with “wear”. “Is that better?”
Half the class looks doubtful. The other half agree with her.
Hesitant Little Boy: “I don’t think that’s right, either.”
Me: “What do you think it should be?”
I start to rub out “wear”, but I am interrupted by Adamant Little Boy.
Me: “ALB, did you have something to add?”
ALB: “It’s WEAR, not WORE. DUH.”
I assure him that HLB was actually correct, and I have him read both sentences out loud, hoping that maybe channeling the words through his own mouth will convince him of the truth. He still doesn’t believe me.
ALB: “The boy WEAR a hat to school. Geez. Wore is like those bad words we aren’t supposed to say.”
Me: “Are you thinking of swore?”
ALB: “No–wore, like cuss words.”
Me: “Hmm. Well, I’ve never heard that used as a cuss word. And in Mr. Phillip’s sentence, it’s wore, as in he had a hat on yesterday. Yesterday, the boy wore a hat to school.”
ALB rolls his eyes and looks at me like I’m a complete idiot. “Whatever,” he says. Then he writes down his version of the sentence, and all his tablemates dutifully copy him. After all, what could a sub possibly know?
I’m trying to imagine the conversation around his dinner table tonight. “Hey, Mom! You know that word Pedro isn’t allowed to call his Marissa anymore? Our teacher tried to make us use it in a sentence today!”
Actually, I pretty much try not to imagine the conversations that occur after I leave the classroom. And here’s to hoping I find a real job soon. Before I ever again have to sub for a high school weightlifting or an all-male industrial arts class. The other PE teacher during my weightlifting gig assured me that the class was actually Cell Phone Usage/Checking Ourselves out in the Mirror 101, and not to worry about it. Just stand there for 90 minutes at a stretch, and try to prevent bloodshed and/or too much intimacy from occurring. The industrial arts class was 3 hours and 15 minutes long. It consisted of 10 males: 6 Mexicans, 2 Russians, and 2 Caucasians, with unlimited access to power tools. Most of them wanted to kill each other. And/or accuse one another of sexual perversions I am pretty sure you have never heard of.
Today’s “health” class for high school freshmen who are euphemistically labelled “historically unable to succeed in school” was interesting also. Who knew that “rape” could be a possible answer to every. single. question.
Subbing in middle school band tomorrow. Giddy with excitement, over it, too.