Friday, September 9, 2011

Teacher Troubles

A couple of weeks ago I wrote (read here) about my apprehension of returning to my high school alma mater as a substitute. The day really went very well. I only oversaw study halls, had really good kids and there is not a single teacher still teaching there from my days in those halls. However, being the beginning of the school year, not many teachers are calling in sick yet. That assignment, on August 26th, was my first and I did not get another one until September 7th.

I am going to school to be a high school math teacher and really only want to work with junior and senior high school kids, but until I get my name out there and the work starts coming in, I cannot be too picky about what assignments I will accept. I need the money and will take a job to get paid rather than sit at home waiting for the job I want. When I signed up with one of the school districts, they asked me if there was any age I did not want to work with. I told her that as long as I could change it later if needed, then I would take any assignment. She inquired, "Does that include preschoolers?"

Why? Why? WHY?!?
I had not considered that. Preschoolers? Do I want to work with little rugrats that aren't aware there is green slime creeping out of their nose and encrusting itself on their upper lip? Noisy anklebiters who are perfectly happy until, suddenly, they realize they have to pee and then all civility stops until their pea-sized bladder is emptied? Greedy little slobs who still haven't figured out how to get food to their mouths without covering the rest of the room as well? Tiny cretins who expect you to applaud wildly simply because they spun around without toppling over despite the fact that they knocked over two other children in the process? I will have to think about that.

As I filled out the paperwork, I considered the question she had posed to me. Actually, I don't want to lie. I pretended that I was considering the question. I did not want to give the slightest impression that I wanted nothing to do with those little..........I should probably stop right there. After acting like I had mulled over the question, I informed her that I was probably better suited for older kids. I declined to be on any lists for pre-school classrooms. If I were being perfectly honest, I really didn't want to be on any lists for any grade below 7th, but money is money, and what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her.

I was given a user name and password to a website where I could browse available jobs to sign up for. I fired up my laptop as soon as I got home and immediately snatched up a job at a small school on the other side of town. The site was very user-friendly and easy to navigate around, but it was very uninformative. Even after accepting an assignment, the only info I had about it was the time to arrive, where to report to and the name of the teacher I was replacing. A few hours later, I grabbed another job at the local junior high school. Finally, I was going to get to start working. Unfortunately, my first job was almost two weeks away.

When I arrived for my first assignment, I found the office and got signed in. The office told me the room number and suggested I familiarize myself with the room before the kids came in. When I walked in the room, I immediately noticed the tiny chairs around a table that was about 2 feet tall. OH NO!!! I quickly looked around the room. There were cardboard posters displaying things such as an apple with the word 'RED' and murals of the alphabet along the border at the ceiling. A little girl came in behind me and pushed her way past my legs to go to a desk covered with plastic frog cutouts with names written on them. She picked one up and stuck it on the bulletin board. Assuming the purpose of the frogs, I read it and asked, "Is that your name? Sakia?" She said it was. Reluctantly I asked, "And how old are you, Sakia?" She proudly held up three fingers.

I had a mini-panic attack right then, but believe I was able to hide it. Not that it would matter. What does a three year old know? Within a few minutes, the room began to fill with children. Some were crying, a few were asking to go to the bathroom and over half were overwhelmed with curiosity about who I was. Once they stopped coming in, I counted 24 little people. 24! What was I to do with these kids all day?

Y!   Y!   Y!
I soon learned that today we were to work on the letter Y. The outline of a capital 'Y' had been printed onto 24 sheets of paper. I instructed the kids to all rip up a sheet of yellow construction paper (yellow because it starts with 'Y') and glue the pieces into the 'Y' outline. This would make a large yellow 'Y'. Unfortunately, most preschoolers do not take instructions well. I believe this is why the unemployment rate is so high in this demographic.

While assisting one of the tables with the complex task of ripping paper, one of the boys looks at me and yells, "Did you forget to brush your teeth?" I know why he asked this. Due to a prenatal medication my mother took while carrying me, my bones and teeth are not white, they are gray. I have never had white teeth and never will. I told the sweet child that I brushed my teeth twice every day. He asked (even louder this time), "Did you forget today?" I said no and then told him that I have gray teeth. Mine aren't white like his. He grabbed my lips and said, "That's because you don't brush them."  The honesty of children does not make them more endearing.

I did make it through the day. We read books, played outside and absolutely destroyed that classroom. However, I was pleasantly surprised that when I said it was time to clean up, the kids started grabbing toys, putting them in their containers and replacing everything on the shelves. The room was back to normal within a few minutes. Maybe they could get jobs in the cleaning service industry.

When the end of the day finally arrived, I went to the office to check out and inquire if there was anything else they needed from me before leaving. I was told they had been watching me on the camera system all day (creepy) and would like me to come back the next day if I was free. I choked out the words, but agreed.

I returned the next day and had a much better experience. Especially, since I now knew their names and knew which ones to keep a closer eye on because they were more prone to trouble (i.e. hitting, biting, wandering off, etc). I am absolutely certain I do not want to work with this age group for a living, but have learned that I can survive a day and am willing to be there when needed.

As long as they don't touch me when they're sticky.


  1. Good stuff! I taught preschool for a while at the Christian school, and I definitely sympathize. Although I do love kids at that age, I can't say I love dealing with so many of them at the same time. One or two is more than enough. haha

  2. When I substituted, preschool was my favorite. Although. I never had to clean up any "messes." That may have changed my mind.--Shane Morgan

  3. Lol. Having a 2 year old and babysitting a 1 year old I can understand the chaos that is the toddler age. Having 24 at once... wow. Major props to you Brett! If I ever decided to do teaching, I would want to same age you do. Alex is going into teaching for grade school. :)

  4. Oh they will always touch you when they're sticky.

    *Especially* when they're sticky.

    When are these lazy little sons of .... gonna get jobs?

    Stop leaning on the system like three year olds! They need to grow up some time. And yes aren't the four year olds just adorable with their honesty? Notice how their "honesty" is almost never nice? Almost never complimentary? These critical little shits are like Simon on Amer. Idol.

    1. They notice everything and have no problem pointing it out. They have called me out on cutting myself shaving, having mismatched socks, leaving my fly down and messed up hair. I quietly remind them how short they are and should leave me alone. It never works.

  5. They do grow on you, don't they :) Glad it turned out well for you!

    1. It worked out all right in the end. I still believe I am destined for high school.

  6. I couldn't be a teacher. It's just not my calling. If that was what I was supposed to do I'd take those little ones and not the ones in high school. With the smart mouths. I'm just saying. I hope you get the class that you want.

    Have a terrific day. :)

    1. I just love teaching, but there is so much that has to be done to get there. I'll get through it...someday.


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