Last fall, I submitted paperwork to be a substitute teacher, but never followed through with the last piece of it. Except for my occasional writer-residencies, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the school thing anymore.
Yesterday I got a phone call to see if I would sub for a second grade classroom at a nearby elementary school. I wasn’t expecting the call, at all. I didn’t even know my name was on the list.
I said yes.
Oh my, it was just like old times: Ms. Jackson can I show the class this stone I found? (It looked like a pinto bean.) Mrs. Jacobs? (It’s Jackson, sweetie. Ms. Jackson.) Ms. Jackson, Ryan is using two pieces of paper and we’re only allowed to use one and… (What the hell, kid, live a little! Use three!) Ms. Jackson, can I go to the nurse? My elbow hurts and…(Buck up, Billy.) Can I sit by you, Ms. Jackson? Sure.
Looking back on my years as a second grade classroom teacher I can’t help but think of Little House on the Prairie. My students and I would sit in circle time, dreaming up names to give our paper white bulbs that were coming into bloom; Bear claw, Mike, Three Flowers. We’d measure how many inches they’d grown, get out our crayons, make a bar graph, then hit the playground for a half hour. Not anymore.
Okay, patriotic moment: God Bless Teachers. These days, their schedules are so jammed tight, I’m pretty sure circle time has been banned. There’s very little breathing room to do all the creative stuff they want to do. An average day at an elementary school is more like basic training; Come on, people, let’s move it move it MOVE IT! Does that strike anyone else as odd? I mean, to be pacing your day like that? Especially when you’re seven years old? And our recess was like, eight minutes.
But it still felt good to be back, even for a day, hanging with people under the age of ten. And all the people at the school were very friendly and helpful. Before I left at 3:30, they asked me if I’d come back tomorrow. Seems that Mrs. P is still under the weather so…
I said yes.