September 22, 2005

The Kids Are Alright

When I first realized I was going to be a short-term occasional – fancy term for ‘supply’ – teacher when I began this school year I had mixed reactions.  On the one hand I was looking forward to the variety of experiences I would get, allowing me to find my niche in education.  I would be able to find my ideal grade level or subject, make contacts at different schools, etc.  On the other hand I was dreading having to play prison guard.  

I still remember being in the grades that I am qualified to teach and how my follow classmates and me treated our supply teachers.  There are some nasty stories that I recall.  One was about a teacher who left before lunch because we just absolutely refused to do anything she asked.  Another teacher talked about switching professions after he left our class.  Countless others cried at some point during their days with us.  I even lost count of the number of times our principals had to come barging into our classroom to regain control.  We were terrible with supply teachers and I know we aren’t alone.  I’ve heard some pretty bad stories from friends who went to other elementary schools.

When I accepted my role as a substitute, I believed it was fate making me go through the punches.  I was going to have to make up for all the hell I collaborated in and caused teachers in my past.  I was going to have to earn my future.  When that first phone call came at six o’clock in the morning – already a bad omen – I was hesitant to take it, but I understood what had to happen, had to happen.  I walked into the classroom with my head up and a smile on my face trying to mask my fear and battle shield.  The kids walked into the classroom, sat down and there he was the one I knew that was going to be trouble.  He was in the front row and he had that mischievous grin that I recognized on so many of my own fellow students.  And immediately after I had located the one, he raised his hand,

“Are you filling in for our teacher?”
“I am.”
“Okay. I’ve never had a guy teacher before.  This is cool!”

There was no smart-ass remark, no joke, nothing.  I went on with the attendance and the first period lesson.  There were no problems whatsoever.  Then the recess bell rang.  (Oh, how I missed recess in university.)  A couple of girls came up to me as I left,

“Mr. Selmes?”
“What can I do for you?”
“We’re glad you’re here today.  You’re really nice.”
“Uh, thanks” I sputtered like a dork in an almost question like tone.

In no way am I trying to brag about my ability as a teacher.  But this has been my experience with each job so far.  I’ve been with two different grade four classes, one grade six and one grade seven and the students thus far have been great.  They are respectful, polite, cooperative, etc.  If the media has taught me anything it’s that kids today are even worse than when I was their age.  They should be trying to tie me up in the corner and being torture me until I pee my pants – with obvious exaggeration.  However, I think my point is made.  These students should not be so welcoming, especially to a supply teacher but there they are happy to have had me in their classrooms.  It definitely makes me feel defensive when I hear someone say “kids these days…” which happened on the bus last night.  It was that statement that made think of writing this post rather than one of the other two political pieces I had planned.  Maybe I’m jumping the gun but somehow I don’t believe I am.  I now look forward to each call I get (which usually come the night before the job instead of that morning).  I think the kids these days are alright…


Cerberus said...

Enjoyed the post. Thanks. Shows the real value of blogging by getting real stories out there, regardless of whether they are sensational and will sell papers.


Anonymous said...

Selmes just wait, you'll get your comeuppance for past supply teacher-kids-go-crazy-full-harvest-moon behaviour that you subjected others of these days you'll get a few Bolger/Hamilton types in a classroom and feel the wrath inflicted. Maybe not hog tied in a corner peeing your pants, but close.

collissimon said...

Hi Kyle!

Glad you're enjoying substituting!

I don't know about Canada, but here in the UK, it also has a lot to do with the complete lack of male teachers (in Primary teaching especially), and a positive male role model is a nice change.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)