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God Bless the Substitute Teacher

Updated on July 28, 2016

The Decision

It's 5:35 am. The phone rings; without looking, you know who the caller is. It rings again, you pause, taking a nanosecond to assess your emotional state. It rings again, you answer.

The recorded voice on the other end begins as soon as you say, Hello,

"Hello, this is the subfinder system for the ______ school district. There is a job available. You will substitute for Betty Wellons. The job position is teacher, 2nd grade. The job is from 7:10am until 2:40pm on Wednesday Oct. 28. To accept the job please press 1, to decline the job please press 9, to hear the job again, please press 4."

Your thoughts race to scenes of the last 2nd grade class you subbed in; there were no lesson plans, no indications of how things are run in the class and no accommodating staff to assist you. You were on your own in the jungle of techno-kids.

You pause, not yet responding to the phone call, not pushing any buttons tossing between two mindsets. "Should I go today?" "I really need the money" "Do I have any other jobs this week?" "What do I do??!!" "O.K, O.K, I've got to make a decision. Pull it together. How awful could it be?" "Lord what do you think?" "Hmmmm....."

Your index finger hovers over the keypad on your phone. Screaming in you head is your own voice, "Press 1 to accept, press 9 to decline, 1 to accept, 9 to decline, 1 or 9, 1 OR 9, Oh God, please help me decide!"


It is all in the attitude...I think

From somewhere deep within comes bold courage.... your index finger decidedly depresses the number 1, you have accepted the job! That's it. The deal is sealed. The commitment has been made and.....there is no turning back!

You begin to adjust your attitude. You tell yourself that you can do this. You have done it many, many times before. It is true that you've had mixed results, but right now you are only going to focus on the good results and banish the bad results to the realm of "things I have experienced which will one day make me a better person."

You feel your courage rising and your confidence along with it. Yes, you can do this, and you will have a successful day!


Let's Get It Started in Here...

You are psyched up and ready to go. You fully intend to make a difference in the lives of 24 second grade students. You have had a free coffee and a danish, you are fresh and alert. You pull up to the school and everything seems normal. Your confidence balloons.

You walk into the attendance office full of vim and vigor and announce that you have come to sub for Mrs. Wellon's 2nd grade class. It may be your imagination, but the room suddenly seems to have grown more silent. A smile of welcome or a smirk of pity, (you can't tell which), crosses the face of the clerk who gladly hands you a map of the school and points you in the direction of Mrs. Wellon's classroom.

You take in your surroundings as you move through the building... things seem in order; perhaps this will be an easy day after-all.


8:05am......Reality sets in

Breakfast is over, the pledge has been said and the anthem has been sung. So far, so good. The lovely little smiling faces of these sweet little people has touched your heart, your defenses are lowering. All is well....

Then it happens. At about 8:35 the door opens and in come the twins, (aren't twins supposed to be in separate classrooms???). A charming little boy and a lovely little girl, Archibald and Hilda. They approach you with their tardy slips, slowly, deliberately. You smile as you reach for the slips, preparing to say good morning when Archibald boldly declares that he doesn't have to do what you say, because you are just a SUBSTITUTE!

Taken aback by this frontal attack, you sway, and, just before you can recover and process what was just said, little Hilda chimes in and says, "Ye-ah! We don't have to do what you say 'cause you're a SUBSTIPOOT!" You try to dodge the right jab of these words when she throws a left hook, "No, you're a STINKY-POOT! Down you go, dazed but alert enough to hear the squeals of laughter that are now flooding the classroom and spilling out into the hallway.


On Your Own...

So, now you know why the front office went silent when you announced who you were subbing for; now you understand that the clerk was pitying you and now, you instinctively recognize that there will be no administrative re-enforcements. No partner to tag, no help at all. This is a mixed martial arts cage fight, and the classroom is the cage!

The rest of the morning, as to be expected, becomes progressively more difficult. Archie lets the class hamster out of the cage. Hilda pours liquid soap into the fish tank. Paper airplanes fly around the class, crayons and poster paint wind up on the wall, the floor and you.

By lunch-time you have resorted to the role of a spectator whose team is down by 20 points. All seems lost. But, maybe not. You do have one secret weapon, recess! Who cares if recess is only scheduled for 20 minutes. Today is a special day... recess will last until 2:20pm!


As recess drags on, you dream of the day when substitute teachers will gain equal rights with full time teachers. That day when the sub can call home and have mom speak with the little demons that are their children.

You even consider starting a support group with a website and newsletter.(Why were those twins in the same class?) Maybe you could develop an alternative to substitute teaching... perhaps you could convince or even mandate that geneticists clone teachers when they are newly hired. We could robotize the clones... that just might work.


It's 2:41pm at last....

You walk out when the kids walk out. They tell you they like you and they hope you come again because they never get a long recess like the one they had today....

On the way to your car, you take personal inventory. Eyes, ears, hands, ... how many fingers, quick count! 1-2-3-4-..... OK, 5 on each hand, still there....Seems right. What about feet...still there, whew, all body parts are present and accounted for.

The only casualties are:

  • the broken heel on your shoe,
  • the blue finger paint in your hair and
  • Mrs. Wellon's classroom.... you wanted to fix it, but your flight instinct was in high gear. You had to get away and get away quickly!

You are exhausted and you look the part. A most harrowing day!!! But, you made it.

See... your success was all about your attitude....and your ability to bob and weave.

Are you or have you ever been a sub?

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As a sub, have you ever had a class like the one described?

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    • LeslieAdrienne profile imageAUTHOR

      Leslie A. Shields 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for your comment... I still sub, but I choose my jobs very, very carefully. God bless you!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      I sub now and then and found this article so hilarious, but rings of truth! I love the opportunity but some days can be very challenging. But then again, there are those days when you know you've made a difference to someone. Love your writing style and thanks for the laughter.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Leslie,

      You are very welcome. I meant every word. I thank God too that I was able to encourage you to keep on writing. Wise choice.

      And I hope to see you soon on HP.

    • LeslieAdrienne profile imageAUTHOR

      Leslie A. Shields 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      WOW! Thank you so much for all of the encouraging accolades! I am really blessed by them... And, as always, to God be the glory!

      Thank you again and God Bless you!

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Super job. You nailed this topic. I happen to know a sub very well and she talks to me about things you mention in this hub. Great work.

      This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, I can easily describe it as amazing.

      I loved every word. Graphics were superb. This hub was helpful, informative and I found it very interesting.

      Voted up and all the choices because you deserve it.

      You have such a gift for writing. Keep the wonderful hubs coming.


      Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama

    • LeslieAdrienne profile imageAUTHOR

      Leslie A. Shields 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks Dr.BillSmithWriter,

      I am glad you enjoyed it... I had a blast writing it....

      God Bless You!

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      We are a family of many teachers. Your Hub really struck a clear note, with me. Thanks for sharing. Loved you choice of graphic images!!

    • LeslieAdrienne profile imageAUTHOR

      Leslie A. Shields 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Absolutely Correct... Once you are out of there you are out of there!

      Thanks for your comment.... God Bless You

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      A cute read! One good thing about don't HAVE to go back the next day!

    • LeslieAdrienne profile imageAUTHOR

      Leslie A. Shields 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for your comment...

      I taught in the classroom for years and now teach online... I like online better....

      And, all I can say is your class may be angelic with you and demonic with others.... I don't think we can predict or control what happens when we take a sick day.... :)

    • LeslieAdrienne profile imageAUTHOR

      Leslie A. Shields 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      That blesses me.... I hope I can make you smile again.... :)

    • LeslieAdrienne profile imageAUTHOR

      Leslie A. Shields 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Absolutely... humor is the only way to go....

      Thanks for the Angels :)

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 

      6 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I was a sub for a year before I started teaching...I think you must have been in the first class I subbed described it pretty closely! As a teacher, I hope that no sub thinks my class is this way!!

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 

      6 years ago from Scotland

      This made me smile, enjoyable read.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 years ago from sunny Florida

      Been here, done this. I subbed for three years when my first grandson was born. Fortunately MOST classes were awesome and I had several long term positions which is ideal.

      But, subbing can be challenging especially now will cell phones everywhere. Humor really is the way to survive the day as a sub.

      Sending you Angels today :) ps


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