Thursday I will face one of my greatest fears. Well… one of my greatest fears that isn’t alligators or crocodiles. (Don’t judge. Those things are relics of an earlier world. Much like Balrogs. And just as evil.) No, Thursday, for the first time, I will substitute teach.
I have a lot of teaching experience. I’ve taught high school. Middle school. I’ve taught middle school curriculum to overachieving eight year olds. I’ve adjuncted at the community college level and I’ve been a graduate teaching assistant. But I have never been a substitute. There are reasons for that.
Mostly because I remember how awful kids are to substitute teachers. Okay, at the end of the day, kids are awful to all teachers. But whereas with full time teachers they’re constantly testing the limits with subs they tend to assume there are none. I’d like to believe that it won’t be so bad since these will be college students, but I’m not holding my breath. Teaching any classroom full of undergraduates who aren’t majoring in the subject at hand is always hard. But with my own students I learn to read them. Thursday will be like the first day of class again, only without the benefit of ever moving beyond it.
Add to all the student bullshit the lingering feeling I’m going to screw up what I’m supposed to teach and ruin the curriculum for the rest of the semester. After all, I’m not going to be the one grading them. I won’t be there when they all get the same thing wrong to sit there and say, “Oh, you know what? That’s because I said XYZ.”
And the real reason I’ve never subbed before is this: you don’t even get paid well for it. At the secondary level subs tend to get paid about minimum wage. I’ll be getting paid in nothing but good karma and fudge.
Though to be fair… fudge is fudge. And I’m a broke grad student, contractually obligated to do most anything for free food. And I’m going to need the karma in a couple weeks. So heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to someone else’s work I will go.