“Alright, class. My name is Mr. Walsh. I will be your sub today.”

Let it be known in the annals of history: I . . . am a substitute teacher!

So, here’s a question for you. I’ll even make it multiple choice. How would you prepare for your first day as a substitute?

A) Getting a good, full night’s sleep and waking up refreshed and ready
B) Double-checking your detailed notes and strategies for being the world’s best sub
C) Opening the ‘Being a Sub’ guides and books you borrowed from your mother for the first time
D) Shotgunning episodes of “Scrubs” like it’s the end of the world

I opted for a synthesis of C and D (leaning mostly toward D). I feel it was the best option.

Alright, here’s the low-down. I got zero sleep the night before my first day. I was . . . a little crazy. “Scrubs” helped as best it could, but there was really no hope for me settling down. I get all dressed up (I had to wear a tie *shudder*) and hopped on the el (which had a malfunction so I was running a little late (yes, I didn’t go to sleep and I was still running late)). I finally made it downtown and to the school. I checked in to the office, got my keys, and was shown my room. It was a biology room. I was to teach biology.

A quick aside. It’s been a good four years since I have had anything to do with biology (and I hated it then). Further evidence there might be a god and he is omni-mischievous.

I knew I had to assert my authority early on. After all, I look like I’m twelve (a point noted by one of my students during the day, but I’m getting ahead of myself). So I shivved the first person that came through the door. Unfortunately, that was the administrator of the school, and I knew that if the students saw him they would welcome me as a liberator and get the totally wrong impression. Luckily, I had a little time before school actually started so I sifted through the lab supplies until I concocted a strong enough acid to dissolve the body. It was a smelly proposition. I opened the windows and got the fans blowing. Soon, the smell was virtually gone. But I still had to handle the students. So I shivved the first one (I made sure he was a student) that came through the door. I wasted no time in mounting him on the wall with a sign hanging around his neck saying, “Thus to all Opposition.” They seemed to get the idea, so I feel justified in my methods.

The first class . . . was a bit of a wash. It was an AP senior class and they had a lab to do. We didn’t talk much. They did their thing and I read my book. Looking back, it was definitely the easiest part of the day.

The classes got younger as the day progressed. It didn’t matter. I had my instructions. I was to have them watch “Osmosis Jones” for the two days that I would sub. It was easy at first. But the slow, painful realization that I would have to watch that shitty movie three times in its entirety started to weigh on my spirits. To lift them I made one of the students dance while me and the rest of the class laughed and ridiculed him. He seemed reluctant at first, but, eyes glancing at his crucified classmate, he eventually came around.

I almost fell asleep during fifth period. It was really hard not to. I had been running on empty the entire day. And the way their screwy bell system was set up, 1st and 2nd period were one class (80 minutes), 3rd period was one class (40 minute), 4th and 5th were one class (another 80 minutes), then there was a quick mass (it was a seminary school), then I got to take my lunch break (thankfully 80 minutes) before I had to knock out one more double period class (periods 8 and 9). I was soooooooo tired. I didn’t eat lunch. I didn’t even leave the room. I just fell asleep (3 (surprisingly refreshing) twenty minute naps).

For my opinion regarding the fact that I was subbing at a seminary school see my above comment on the existence and nature of god.

The last class turned out to be a breeze. I had even settled down enough to interact with them before popping in the movie. At the end of the day, I left, fell asleep on the el, finally made it home, tried my best to stay awake as long as possible, then settled into bed around 9pm.

Friday was a cake walk (but less mushy). All the double periods of the previous day were only single periods so, in effect, I had three 40 minute breaks and an 80 minute lunch. I was able to finish my book. It was also easier to face the kids. I was familiar-ish and knew what I was facing so I could open up to them, which put them in a better mood, which was better for everyone involved.

One $200 check later, I’m feeling pretty damn good about this substituting thing.


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