Sunday, May 1, 2011

Substitute Gym Teacher

This fall I realized that retirement can actually get boring. So, having taught math on a volunteer basis at my old high school for several years, I looked into getting my teaching license.  I discovered that, at least in Nebraska, a substitute teaching license requires little more than a few hours of undergraduate study and a background check devoid of child sex crimes.  Having falsified my record on both counts, I received my conditional permit in a matter of days. 

It started out well, filling in for my former math teachers several times a month.  They let me teach their normal lesson plan, and the kids listened because I know what I'm talking about.  I also now have the power to issue demerits, which each count as a fifth of a detention. 

Soon, though, I started getting calls about substituting for other teachers.  I even got a call at 6 AM one day wondering if I could be an English teacher.  A few weeks ago, I taught Spanish to lower and middle school students, which was pretty awesome; it reminded me of the song on the Adam Sandler comedy CD about high school Spanish teachers.  I've been a music teacher, which requires extensive knowledge of DVD and CD technology.  The best class by far has been gym.  A sample day in the life of a substitute gym teacher:

Show up at 8:45, just in time for my second period class, because no one has gym first period.  The fifth graders rush into the locker room and change into their gray gym outfits.  They all ask if they are swimming.  When I tell them they are playing badminton, they go nuts, especially the Asian kids.  They either hate swimming, love badminton, or both.

12 kids play badminton while the other eight roughhouse on the mats.  My main job is preventing death, which in a normal gym would not be a concern.  However, there is a pile of mats six feet high on one side of the gym, and the children seem to enjoy crawling over, under, and through the mats.  The image of a missing fifth grader found weeks later in a pile of mats flashes before my eyes and I make them do pushups instead.  One of them tries a backflip off the mats and I just lose it, blowing my whistle and sounding as mad as I'm able.

In the locker room, the fifth graders are changing when the next class of high school boys come in.  They repeatedly try to slap the younger children's hands and give them a "high-five".  I get the feeling it's an inside joke privy to which I am not.

3rd period I have sixth graders.  They are calm and organized and it seems like someone has fed them a collective chunk of Xanax and Adderall at the same time.  They do their stretches silently and without a leader and I worry that they are a communist youth group plotting the bourgeious teacher's downfall.

Back in the locker room, I wait for seventh graders.  I mistakenly order a sophomore to get ready for gym class.  He seems offended, but he's really small, so he should understand.