Jail Time and Other Sub Stories

I’m subbing right now in a Creative Writing class (best job ever!) and it’s a work period so I’m going to do some writing, too.

On Monday, I subbed at an elementary school where this kid wearing a sweatband pretended to have Tourette’s Syndrome to justify swearing in class. The idea was provided by his friend, Jock Face, who assured me, “He’s not right…”(points at his head).  Sweat Band jumped on this opportunity and just rolled with it.

“Yup. That’s right. I’m not right.”

I should’ve taken him seriously and offered him learning resource support.

Once a kid in grade four– in an act of resistance rather than an appeal for help– said he could not and would not do his work.  As someone who struggles with learning, I decided to take him seriously. So I was like, “Oh. Okay. Well, do you need someone to help you? Would you like me to read for you? Or do you want to find a partner? Or should I find an LRT? How can I support you best?”

Once he realized I was serious about helping him, he knew his act was too good and had to start pulling back. This look on his face said, “Oh snap. She legit thinks I have a learning disability.” So he cut the act, relented and did his work.

It was the best thing I’ve ever done.

Yesterday, I was teaching grade nine English and they were working on an Inquiry project. This one kid, who is clearly very brilliant and thinks deeply about things was trying to prove how Google Books and Google Scholar are not good resources and the conversation was totally over my head. I just didn’t understand what he was trying to say and then another teacher who was sitting at the back for his prep chirped in, too. And I totally didn’t get that either. Like, this is above my pay grade.

That afternoon, I was placed in a kindergarten class and I sighed in relief. Nobody asked me a question that was beyond my understanding.

We read a book. Did a math lesson. Measured things with books, counted how many steps it takes to walk from one end of the class to the other, counted how many claps it takes for different kids to walk around tables. We counted paper clips and snap cubes and measured crayons to pencils.  We had playtime and snacktime and recess. We learned about safety and if you are lost, stay where you are. Shout. Wait for Mom or Dad. If no one comes, go find a store clerk, a policeman, fireman, ambulance person or a principal (I don’t think the principal would be there. However, the kids just brought him Green Eggs and Ham yesterday so perhaps they were linking “Food + Groceries + Store + Being Lost + Principal = Safe choice.”  Even though it is highly unlikely that the principal would be shopping at the same time,  I accepted this answer because he’s a safe figure).

When we did the colouring activity, they had to colour two store clerks and a police officer. I tried to explain what a uniform was, “A suit that makes us all look the same.” One of the kids coloured the store clerks in jumpsuits of orange and the police in blue which completely changed the scene and they were no longer in a store but a jail. It is likely that even if the kid was lost, he’d never find his way out again. He should also reconsider his life choices that got him there in the first place. But I kept that thought to myself and let the kid hand it in anyway.

Once a kindergarten at another school said something I couldn’t understand. It was either, “R u ded?” or “Where’s my dad?” The first choice seemed interesting and I didn’t think of the second choice until much later so I told him nobody is dead. Everybody is very much alive. It was clearly the wrong answer because he had a total meltdown and the EA had to go help him.

Ah, yes. I clearly left this place better than I found it. Hurrah, hurrah.

Anyway, that’s why I never told the kinder kid his store looked like a jail and just let it happen. Maybe he likes to shop at Giant Tiger. Do they wear orange jump suits? I don’t even know.

Also, I had to hide behind the green tape the teachers put on the ground to keep the kids from touching their desk. Kinder kids are like zombies. They crowd a lot and could probably eat you if you let them.

“If you’re done your snack, go play. Play, play, play. Go play. Go.”

The kids won’t budge as they stretch over the green line to show me some toy or an apple that needs cutting. I help the kid with the apple and pretend to blow the other kid away.

“Look! I’m the wind and (exhale loudly). You should (exhale more) go play.”

I’m stuck because I’m frozen.”

“Well, now I’m the sun (jazz hands that make the shape of the sun) and you have been melted. Go play.”

They loved that and eventually, went to play.

Aw. As much as I tease, I love primary. And teaching. I really love teaching.