This is a snapshot in time and my idea of a humourous look at a teaching experience. It doesn’t reflect what the classroom teachers or regular substitutes do. They are “on” almost all day and deal with numerous individuals, some easy, some difficult. They make dozens of decisions an hour ranging from how to present a particular concept to whether to call on the quiet boy at the back. They have to decide whether behavior needs modifying or if the action is a blip in the normal way a student reacts. This is mean to be funny, not reality.
I am supervising final exams in one of my local high school gymnasiums. There are three of us keeping the unruly lot in order. Since I'm a substitute teacher, I am likely to be last to be asked a question. I check the time. The exam started at 9:05 and students are given two hours to write. It could be a long morning.
Do you know how quiet it is in a gym when the floor is covered for protection from outside shoes, there is no talking and any cell phones have to be left at the supervisor's station? It is cold in the gym but I can walk around. At first I use my most determined expression- the one that says, "Don't try any funny stuff with me in charge. I've seen it all."
I scan the gym and all I see are heads bent in concentration. No one looks like a rebel; they look like serious students. The odd person drinks from a water bottle or turns to his calculator. I am getting bored and this is five minutes into the exam.
I walk purposefully to the other end of the gym and stand there, imagining that I am, perhaps, a member of the SS and try to demonstrate that discipline. I walk back to the other end of the gym. It's harder than you think to look alert and stand straight when no one is watching, when everyone is intent on their own tasks. I lean against the gym wall my left leg crossed in a relaxed way over the right. I imagine maybe I'm Lili Marlene, the lily of the lamplight. (By the way the exams are chemistry and biology finals.Why am I channeling unrelated WW11 stuff?) If I dared I'd purse my lips in a sultry expression. I walk to the end of the gym again and check the time: 9:15.
The next hour passes in a similar fashion. I leap to help a student with a simple question. I continue to walk and look alert when really I'm having an out-of-body experience.
By 10:15 some of the exams are coming in and there are a couple more questions. Then one of the regular teachers rushes in to see if I can take her place in another room where the Math Diploma Exam is being written. She is going to pick up her young son from the elementary school where he is ralphing all over.
This is a break! I grab a quick cup of coffee and go up the stairs to the Math Exam. As quietly as I can I step into the room, letting the door close behind me with stealth. OMG. It is so hot and quiet in this room. It is worse than the gym. There's nowhere to walk and since this is a provincial exam, the students are even more serious. The end time for the exam is 12:14. I almost nod off when I finally sit down. Some tests have been handed in but many students use every last second. 12:14 and the all exams have to be handed in. The other supervisor and I take them to the office where they are secured. It is lunch time.
And that is why they pay me the big bucks.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.