The Life of Bon: Substituting shop- it ain't for the weak at heart!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Substituting shop- it ain't for the weak at heart!

Welp, today was probably the worst day of "teaching" I have ever had.  I say "teaching" because it wasn't really "teaching" at all, mostly glorified babysitting by someone with a teaching degree, but you know, who wants to sit here and argue semantics?

The secretary emailed this morning and said she needed somebody to cover a fourth period class for one of the shop teachers.  I've got my student teacher holding down the fort with my classes and I kind of miss being in charge of little munchkins so I said, sure sign me up!

Fourth period rolled around and I strutted into the shop classroom like I owned the place- my usual walk.  Today was a "classroom" day so nobody was in the shop at all, rather crammed into a very small space with way too many desks and no windows.  Three girls.  Thirty seven boys.

First I was supposed to have them answer some questions for a a starter.

"Get out a piece of paper, you are going to do a starter," I ordered in my very official teacher Bon voice.

They all stared back at me.

"Now! Get your papers out.  Move it."

 Some of the class started shuffling, slowing leafing through their backpacks at a snail's pace.  It was obvious these boys were in no hurry to get their work done.

A kid in the front row sat with his backpack on, not moving an inch.  "You.  Why don't you have a paper out?" I harrassed him.

He shrugged his shoulders apathetically.

"Get a paper out.  We're doing the starter right now!"  He stared back at me, not saying a word.  I was in shock!  The nerve!  I mean, I interact with high schoolers day in and and day out and they usually at least get their paper out for me.  I'd never seen this kind of blatant disregard for a teacher's orders.

"You're seriously not going to get your paper out?"  At this point it was becoming an issue of control and I am always in control.  I kind of thrive off of it.

He shook his head.

"Wow.  We're really going to do this?  Alright.  Get your paper out or we can take a walk down to the vice principal's office.  I don't care which one you choose."  I did care which one he chose, but you gotta play it cool when you're going to battle with a fourteen year old, you know.  This seemed to scare him a little bit because he slowly shrugged his backpack off his shoulders and started looking for paper.  Victory!

I asked the questions to the starter.  None of the kids wrote down the answers.  They all just stared back at me, with those blank Bambi eyes.

"Yo!  Kiddos!  Write your answers down!"  I ordered.  Why was no one listening to me?

"It doesn't really matter because we just go over the answers in a second and he tells us all the answers and then we just fill it in," answered the one brave girl from the front row.  I looked at my instructions.  Sure enough, the instructions told me to just have the kids self correct their starters and then pass them up.  The girl had a good point.

At this point the room was starting to get very stinky.  Too many boys in a confined space.  Probably my least favorite thing about my current condition of preggerness is that I can smell a burrito form across a football stadium.  I thought this uber keen sense of smell would really come in handy once I was pregnant, but so far it has been nothing but trouble.  I am convinced that 90% of smells in this world are gross, so being able to smell extra good is really more of a horrible, horrible curse than anything else.  Body odors and farts and the heat combined for a winning classroom combination.

I had the kids take a quiz next in which I threatened them with their lives that if they didn't be quiet I would give them zeroes.  I also made them all put away their phones which, given the faces they pulled, you would have thought I asked them to bury their own grandmas.  Attachment disorder for sure with those cellular devices, I tell you what!

The young uns were quiet for about four minutes before they all decided that they weren't so hot into the quiet thing.  As soon as one boy started they all joined in and then it was just Lord of the Flies waiting to happen.  I waved my white flag.

For the remaining hour they were supposed to work on a packet.  I told them so and they all proceeded to put their headphones back in and look at their phones.

"What are you doing?" I asked the sweet girl in the front row.

"I'm watching Frozen," she replied happily, "I've never seen it!"

"What about your packet?"

"Oh, we get three days to work on that so I'll finish it some other time."  I couldn't argue much there- the girl had a point.  In fact, none of the kids were too into getting their packet done- they seemed to regard it more as a light suggestion than an actual assignment.  I didn't much care at this point.

I think it was about this point in the hour that the vice principal came on the intercom and announced that it was time for our lock down drill.  This meant I had to shut the door, turn the lights off and we all had to be quiet.  We managed the closed door and the lights off, but you're a fool if you think I got those rambunctious boys to shut up.  In their defense, about half of them were quiet because they were busily engaged with their cell phones.  The other half were involved in some kind of wrestling frenzy in the middle of a row of desks.  I tried to stop them, I did.  But it was all futile.

The room was getting oh so stinky with the door closed.  No windows, small confined space, 37 teenage boys, oh the horror!  Truly, you can not imagine what I went through this afternoon!

Finally the lock down was over and air was allowed back into our little shop classroom.  A few boys conveniently left to go to some kind of mysterious bathroom from which they never returned.  I wrote their names down, and I will happily fill out truant slips for each one of those tricksters who ventured off on one way journeys to the urinals.  The non sluffing kids worked on their packets, but mostly it was a ruckus, a stinky ruckus start to finish of which I was happy to escape when that final bell rung at last.

And THAT, my friends, is the story of my afternoon substituting a shop class.  Possibly the worst hour and a half I have ever spent in a high school.  I will gladly go back to spending my fourth period aimlessly wandering the halls while I wait the two more weeks until I get my own classroom back.

Tell me, what did YOU do this afternoon?


  1. oh that sounds awful! i don't envy you, 37 hormonal, teenage boys is way too many to be in one classroom!

    xo. jenn @ hello, rigby!

  2. Yuck.

    This afternoon I took my 5 kiddos to the library for an hour and then I sat through a chem lab and then a 2 hour session with my tutor while he explained P1xV1=nRT for my chemistry class.

    Shoot me.

  3. I used to get coverages every week and trust me I didn't volunteer for them - it was the absolute worst!! My AP basically told me I was just babysitting anyway so really my only goal was for the kids not to die while I was there.

  4. My husband has been a shop teacher for 8 years. This pretty much describes his every day.

  5. I did substitute teaching for two months last spring and it was the most miserable experience of my life so far. I refuse to do it ever again because almost every class all day long was like your shop class. The only thing it taught me was what I shouldn't leave for a substitute teacher someday when I get my own classroom.

  6. I commented last night on my iPhone, but I guess it didn't save...
    I felt overwhelmed and frustrated just by reading this. That is terrible in so many ways. It doesn't matter what class you are teaching, there should still be certain expectations of students and students actually trying to do their work and not watching Frozen on their ipod/phone/pad is not acceptable, no matter what class you are in. Honestly, it doesn't make me frustrated at the kids...that's what they are used to. This post makes me frustrated at the shop teacher you had to substitute for for condoning this behavior.

  7. Substitute teaching is officially off of my list of possible job options now...

  8. 1. It never ceases to amaze me they can use their phones! If we even SEE a phone in someone's pocket, we are required to turn it in. If their phone is taken up once, the parent has to pick it up from school and sign a paper acknowledging they understand what will happen to the student if it's taken up again. The second phone offense gives them a day in ISS, which is held at alternative school. They would KILL to be able to use their phones! :P

    2. As a librarian, I have such a flexible schedule. I play substitute teach CONSTANTLY. It drives me crazy! It made me realize just how terrible subbing is. I can't imagine CHOOSING to do that. Bleck.

  9. I adored substitute teaching. . . most of the time. This sounds awful. And I could tell some doozies too, but maybe I should spare your comment section a novel :)

  10. Anonymous11:32 AM

    Holy crap, the thought of all those smells mixing literally made me nauseated. Gross! I'm supposed to be working right now, but I'm catching up on some blogs right now that I missed when Bloglovin was down!

  11. Why are kids so bratty??? Pretty sure we were probably just as bratty in high school, too, but it was so long ago I've blocked most of those four years from my memory. Hopefully you'll be able to do the same about yesterday (and all those smells ... ew.).

  12. well, substitute teaching sounds rather... interesting. :)
    I just found your blog and i absolutely love it!

  13. WOAH! 40 kids! That's insane!

    I am a substitute teacher for primary kids and it's lovely! They really like you and they do everything you say. There is a definite reason I chose to not be a high school teacher! Boys stink!

  14. After an incident with my freshmen homeroom earlier in the day, I spent my afternoon feeling grateful for the fact that I teach juniors every other class period. Sometimes I swear they stuck me with a freshmen homeroom so that I would know just how lucky I am to teach juniors. My husband just became a substitute in our district so that he'd have something to do on his days off and make a little extra money. I don't think he truly understands what he's signed up for :)

  15. I refuse, under any circumstances, to sub. I hated it every time I did it! And as much as I loved my high school teaching experience, I did my time and I'm never going back, thank you very much.

    Still, your story brought back many oddly cherished memories!

    {Visit me at Mommyhood, PhD}

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  17. Reasons I am not a teacher......YIKES!
    Good for you for surviving that hot mess.

  18. Oh, I have been here before. The talk back, the sass, the lack of drive in schoolwork. This is a normal occurrence in my 6th grade class, unfortunately.

  19. well i just got done subbing this post was perfect and spot on!!!!!