So far, I love substitute teaching! I was quite nervous to begin with, but now that I have 2 whole days under my belt, I’m liking it. I admit, 2 days of experience hardly makes me the expert. I am surprised though, that each day brought me a valuable revelation for the times I’m wearing my “mom hat”.
First, I was given kindergarten. When I arrived at school and received my assignment, lo and behold, it was my daughter’s former teacher! My daughter walked around the room with me explaining the different routines and spaces. I think she was having just as much fun as I was. I felt much more confident knowing the teacher’s personality and style of teaching.
After school, I felt 8 times as annoyed by any bit of disorder at home than I usually do. Even though I felt pretty exhausted from the day, by the time I had been home an hour I made the girls tidy up, cooked dinner, and made everyone sit at the table with no screens allowed. My older one told me, “Mom, you forgot to turn off your teacher voice!”
I discovered, or maybe rediscovered, that I crave structure. I usually think of myself as a mostly flexible, go-with-the-flow kind of person. But oh the power; when I said, “snack time is over,” 16 kids immediately cleaned up their own mess and returned to their seats, ready to learn. I only have 2 at home, but I’m pretty sure whenever I speak they just hear bla, bla, bla! Well, not tonight kiddos! That goes for you too dad! And oh the joy when books are put back on the shelf and play dough stays on the table nearest the sink, and paper scraps are gathered up and brought to the wastebasket.
Then I had 3rd graders. It was a truly nice class, not a troublemaker in it. One was a sensitive soul, crushed to tears when reprimanded. It helped to be reminded that everyone makes mistakes, and making mistakes just means you’re trying your best. Others had a fight on the morning bus. The teachers helped the two talk it out. But one confided in me that this is nothing new, it happens every day. One started the day with a visit to the school nurse. Although this seemed suspiciously like a ploy, that one went home after lunch.
My revelation from this day is, kids have a lot going on. A lot that they typically just keep inside. Maybe when they go home, they need that time to just be. Not hold it together, not use their words, not push down their emotions because now it’s time for math, not to worry whether they’re getting sent to the principal’s office or someone’s going to pick a fight with them or their answer is wrong.
My two revelations seem conflicting, but just maybe they will help me achieve a better balance in my home. Just orderly enough for my sanity, just chaotic enough for theirs.