Showered and dressed and errythang, for the first time in two days. If I had a sensible job, like most normal people do, I’d probably have gone to work today– but if I had a sensible job I’d be able to get to a bathroom when I needed to, which means… uh-uh, we stay home another day.
Are there any jobs, other than teaching– and I know there have to be, I just can’t think of an example right now– where a job of “substitute X” exists, whose only function is to fill in for actual practitioners of career X who for whatever reason aren’t at work today? I mean, I know buses get driven and mail gets delivered and all that stuff, but that’s done by other actual bus drivers, right, who drive buses for a living, and other mail-people, who are deliverers of mail that are picking up an extra shift? Not by people with a pulse and a bare handful of college classes who are tossed willy-nilly into the seat and told “Just so long as nobody’s bleeding, you did fine today?”
Like I’ve said in the past, I have a silly job. I had no idea when I left work on Tuesday that I wasn’t going to be at work on Wednesday or Thursday, because this thing hit me like a bolt from the blue– an hour before I was dying, I was fine. So not only did I not really bring anything home from work with me, I didn’t really leave my classroom in any sort of condition for a stranger to be able to wander in and take over. My teacher editions? I don’t really use them, they’re somewhere. My “official” lesson plan book? Is filled out for my seventh grade classes, but not for 8th, which I hadn’t actually figured out a week’s worth of stuff for the last time I opened it.
I try to leave detailed lesson plans, including bits like helpful students (and who to keep an eye on,) locations of important information, emergency procedures– hell, there was supposed to be a storm drill this week, hopefully that didn’t happen in the last two days– and any number of other things that might be useful to someone new to the building. My lesson plans are generally two or three pages long, single spaced. I’m not able to do that when I’m not aware in advance at least to some degree that I’m going to be out. Tuesday’s lesson plans weren’t bad, but I literally had to write lesson plans for today that said something along the lines of “I think I want you to do (activity), but I’m having the teacher from down the hall come check to see what (activity) actually is, and if she says to do something else, do what she says.”
There are also numerous caveats to the effect of “I don’t remember this information off the top of my head, but check (this place) in the classroom to find it.” I got a call from the other teacher this morning telling me that she had in fact changed my lesson plans, which is good, because the last thing I need is for a substitute teacher to actually try to teach anything.
Which is a damned shame, really. But it has to be this way– I have to write my lesson plans in such a way that a trained monkey should be able to execute them, if indeed the trained monkey bothers to read my lesson plans– there have been more times than I can count that it was painfully clear that the lesson plans were not even glanced at throughout the course of the day. I have no assurance that the person in my classroom is actually able to perform seventh-grade mathematics, much less the towering intellectual juggernaut known as 8th grade honors Algebra– much less teach it to anyone. As such, lesson plans generally boil down to “Give them this, and hope they don’t kill each other, and it’s probably good if they’re at least mostly doing the work.” Which I will throw away as soon as I get back to class, because I may as well just lower everyone’s grades by 3-5% rather than go to the trouble of grading work that was given by subs.
Mind you: I wouldn’t do this job for all the tea in China, and the job pays substantially less than what I imagine tea in China might cost. There are plenty of good subs out there; I’ve had those too. But the problem is I can’t count on getting those subs, and even if someone I know and like is scheduled to be in my room there’s no guarantee that the office won’t make a switch once they see who is out on any given day. So I have to write lesson plans for the lowest common denominator– and the lowest common denominator in this case includes, just to choose from the subs I’ve seen in my building in the last few weeks, religious nuts who derail an entire lesson on Islam with their psychopathy, people who I have used the phrase “clear and obvious lunatic” on official review paperwork to describe what they did to/in my classes, and people so addled and confused that they’re barely able to find the classrooms they’re assigned to, much less effectively teach in them.
It sucks. But, again, because of how my job works, I’m actually (and unfortunately) more likely to call in sick than I might be if I had some other position. If I worked in an office, I’d be at work today. But I don’t. I work in a place where there are three-minute passing periods and the nearest adult bathroom is two and a half minutes away at a brisk walk if I don’t have to stop to talk to any students along the way, and not to get too TMI on you but there have been digestive issues lately and I haven’t always been getting a lot of warning if you know what I mean. So I’m home, mostly feeling fine except for the three or four minutes out of every hour where I feel terrible.