Once in a while, even as a substitute teacher, I have moments when it all seems worth it. Those moments are few and far between, but they do still happen. I had several of those moments yesterday.
My favorite school where I sub is the middle school here in our town. The teachers who request me are incredible, they leave real lesson plans for when they are gone, the kids are fantastic overall, and the general atmosphere of the school is positive. I thoroughly enjoy being there every time, and apparently, I'm there quite often, because one of the boys said to me yesterday, "You're here a LOT" and then followed that up with, "And that's a good thing!"
This is the school where kids will say, "Yay! You're here!" when they see me as they pass by the classroom door and I know it's not just because they don't want to do "real work" (which is generally what happens at most other schools when teachers are out). They know me by name, they come hang out with me during lunch, and if they don't have me that day, they'll stop in to say hi anyway.
It's also nice to hear from the teachers that the students really like it when I'm there, too.
Well, one thing stood out to me yesterday, and I thought it was so neat and out of the ordinary that I felt compelled to share. Last Friday, I was subbing for the math teacher on the team of teachers for whom I regularly sub. One of the boys, N, who is a great kid but a bit distracted often, was having a hard day. He didn't want to do any work, and he was being belligerent about it. To top it all off, he was talking back and being a bit sassy. I didn't kick him out because I know he's not normally like this (another perk of being at the same school often is that you get to actually know the kids), but I did leave a note for the teacher.
Yesterday, I was subbing for the social studies teacher on the team, and N had me later on in the day. He stopped by at lunch and said, "I'm really sorry for the other day, Mrs. G. I promise it won't happen again, and I apologized to Mrs. S, too." I smiled at him and told him that I appreciated his apology. I'm pretty sure he had been told to say he was sorry, but I also knew he probably did feel bad about it. Well, apparently, the verbal apology wasn't enough for him, because after his class in the afternoon, he came up to me and handed me a folded piece of paper. I asked him what it was, and he just smiled and left.
Here is what it said:
Dear Mrs. gillory
I am sorry for all the times in the past that I have been disrespectful! I have enherited a little ADD from my dad and have trobule consortriating. Im sorry, I will try my best to be as respectful and helpful during my classes. Just so you know you are my favorite sub! I would rather have you than any other substitute. I apoligize to you and Mrs. Siracuse.
I just thought the entire thing was so nice and sincere, that I wrote him a note back. Most kids couldn't care less that they're disrespectful, and most teachers and administrators really don't care how their students treat the substitutes. I was thankful for this little moment on multiple levels yesterday.
So there you go, a positive glimpse into my world of substitute teaching!
"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner