This is not the first time he has had a sub, but this is the first time I felt worried about the sub. Actually, let me clarify, I felt worried FOR the sub.
I generally pop into Huck’s class around 8:05 after his teacher (Miss J) has had a few minutes to get everyone settled. She usually can spare me a few minutes to chit-chat at this time because the kids are pretty subdued and are all sitting quietly and working at their tables. This morning it was chaos!
When I walked in, I saw a large man with a terrified look on his face and sweat running in buckets off his head. Without even asking if he minded, I dived in.
First I took a head count. There are currently 19 kids in Huck’s class. Out of 19 kids, 4 are sitting and working at their tables (Huck was one of these because he is an unequivocal rule follower). Three are in the hallway, lingering at the water fountain. Two are standing outside the bathroom, one is in the bathroom. Two are fighting over a notebook. One is crying. Three are playing with the toys that are designated for certain times of day (8:05 is not one of these times). Two are in the book nook. And one is nowhere to be found, I shall now nickname this kid Nomad. He and Huck are big buddies so he is likely to be a blog regular.
I immediately break up the fight by taking the notebook away. Then I pop right back out the door to round up Nomad. I know these kids pretty well so I had a good idea where to find this one. He was right where I expected him to be, so we head back to the classroom. By now the crier has calmed down and the water fountain and bathroom kids are all back in the room.
Next I summon my very best Miss J voice and loudly say “Boys and Girls! One two three, eyes on me!” I have heard her say this about 100 times already this year so I know it works. It does and 38 little eyes are now trained on me. CRAP! Now that I have their attention, what am I supposed to make them do?
So I look at Huck and shoot him a “help me!” look. He just opens up his poetry folder and starts coloring. So I say, “Everyone sit down and work on your poetry folders. I am going to pick whoever is the quietest and they can be it for the quiet game.” Mr. Sweaty looks at me like I have fallen straight from heaven into the classroom. So I pick a quiet kid and they get started on their game.
Now I have a minute to talk to Mr. Sweaty (and show him where the paper towels are because when I said the sweat was running in buckets I was not exaggerating). Turns out he has never subbed before. Gee, really? He was called in because Miss J’s daughter had an unexpected medical emergency (nothing life threatening, but still kind of serious). He was trying to do the lunch count when I showed up, but he has just realized he didn’t do it quite right and needs to correct his mistake.
He has asked each kid if they want option 1 (hamburger), option 2 (chicken sandwich) or have brought a lunch box, and has dutifully written a 1, 2, or LB on each little hand. However, he didn’t record the count for the cafeteria ladies.
Now that he can reasonably get everyone’s attention he mops his dripping brow and says “If you chose option 1 raise your hand.” No one raises their hand. So I say “If Mr. Sweaty (I didn’t actually call him that) wrote a 1 on your hand, hold it up so I can see it.” This time 14 little hands go up. Teaching certificate or not, grown men just don’t know how to think like kids.
Nomad is trying to leave the class room again, so I call to him and say “Do you think you could come show Mr. Sweaty how Miss J chooses the class leader and table helpers each day?” Mr. Sweaty and Nomad seem happy with this assignment and they head to the front of the room.
Meanwhile I round up Worm (who has been surprisingly good this morning) and start to head out. But on the way out the door something hits me. I go back in and call to Mr. Sweaty “Hey, the thermostat is on the wall by the sink, partially hidden by the paper towel holder.” I think he would have hugged me if it wouldn’t have been completely inappropriate.