The Joys of Substitute Teaching(?)

When I graduated from college(eons ago), it was December and there weren’t very many teaching positions available.  I was an Elementary Education(K-8) with a German minor. I signed up for substituting at all of the local school districts and pretty soon was subbing most of the time.

I loved being with the younger children because they hadn’t learned all of the “driving substitute teachers crazy” tricks yet.  The worst they would do would possibly switch seats or say they hadn’t gotten that assignment, etc.  There would always be one righteous little soul in the front who would shake their head furiously, wave their hand and say, “don’t you believe them.”  Many times a younger child would find their older sibling and find out if they had had me before…I could hear many times, “oh, don’t worry about her, she’s nice.”

Having long term assignments were nice but few and far inbetween.  I had a few of approximately a week long and one longer than was anticipated.

It was nearing the end of the school year.  The teacher of the class I had been sent to was ill(I later found out she had had a nervous breakdown).  This was a small school with 6 classrooms(K-5).  This was before all of the local elementary schools were consolidated into one building.  Grade 3.  Usually not a difficult age group for me.  Usually.

The room was chaotic…lesson plans were spotty with little to no information and often times not even what the children were learning/had learned.  There had been some instances that month where a few children had been destructive and disruptive with their parents being notified.

It took me almost a week to determine where they were at and to start writing lesson plans.  I was hopeful that once I instilled some order in the  daily schedule, the children would respond.  Some did.  I ended up being hoarse by week’s end and my voice would return by Monday.

After being there for a month, I received a phone call from the district office that the teacher would be returning Monday(there were two weeks left of school at that point) and I would be relieved of that assignment.

That Friday before dismissal, I told the children that their teacher was returning on Monday and that a note was coming home to tell their parents.  I also told them I was proud of how most of them had improved over the past  month and that I hoped they would continue for the rest of the year.  I tidied up the room, left the lesson plans and a note, said goodbye to the rest of the staff and went home.

Monday morning arrives.  Up at 6 as usual to wait for any substitute calls.  Nothing.  9 am the phone rings.  The teacher had returned but left after 1/2 hour.  Would I go there immediately.

I drive over to the school…not expecting to see my entire class…OUTSIDE the building with absolutely no supervision…waiting for me…laughing.  As I came  towards them, they ran towards me, “We were waiting for you !  Are you surprised?!  We knew you would be back!”

We all went into the classroom together and you know, they were the model classroom for the rest of the school year(two weeks).

til next time…Eva


The Teapot

002aEnglish Bone China Teapot Photo by Eva 2014

When I first met my husband, he lived in England.  We had a long distance relationship for 3 years…fueled by letters, a weekly(short) phone call and alternating week long visits. (no computer, no Skype, no cell phones then…)

When we finally decided to get engaged, I had flown over for a week.  That week we went for an engagement ring, had our photograph taken and were just enjoying the euphoria that comes with the initial “being engaged” period…before all the nuts and bolts need to be ironed out and “reality” sets in.

I loved the whole concept of the English traditions of “High Tea”…it’s a romantic version for me of a wintry Sunday afternoon in a cosy warm room with the woodstove/fireplace/gas stove cheerfully burning, the small table set with covered teapot, toasted crumpets with butter and jam, Dundee cake and some sharp Cheddar cheese and apples.  Warmth and laughter filling the air.

I bought a lovely teapot that week and brought it home carefully in my hand luggage.  It was white with Spring blossoms…I envisioned it with a tea cosy and my whole high tea dream.

Well, fast forward 24 years later.  I studied my teapot today…gathering dust on the top shelf of my kitchen.  It has never been used.  My husband and I used to have tea together in the afternoon…I was basically “trained” to have it ready for when he came home from work.  When he stopped working, he began to make his own solitary tea…bought himself a “teapot for one” and would buy the teas and  foods for his use only.  He always sits by himself with his tea tray…warm days outside, cold days inside and many times with earphones so he won’t be disturbed.

I was glad in a way because it had all become a habit and joyless.  I have a giant cheerful yellow mug with Minnie Mouse on it that my daughter bought for me(it holds 3 cups!) and I sit in the comfy chair that was my dear mother’s…with Zowie on the table next to me, Beast on my lap and Kitty laying on the top of the chair resting against my head.  It’s a different type of joy/contentment than I’d envisioned all those years ago…but then, I’m not the person I was then.  Older, maybe wiser, with much more to learn and experience.

In the meantime, I look at that forlorn teapot on the top shelf and remember past dreams…

til next time…Eva