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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Subbing At Christmas Time:)

Lessons Learned

Subbing In The Christmas Season

It’s a cold morning. It’s still dark out and the frost on the windows brings winter’s chill inside. With a piping hot cup of my David’s best coffee in hand and bundled snuggly up in a fleece robe, I peruse the sub plans before me on the kitchen table. Lessons, pages, expectations, and extra material in the event of a dire need for Plan B are all brilliantly and thoughtfully well-constructed, and tucked alongside them  is my own personal stash of drop-back-and-punt items that always work in a pinch. Materials needed, check.  Thirty years in the classroom so nothing will surprise me, check.  Sense of humor, check.  Grace, patience, compassion in every pocket, check. The only unknown now remains the students. When you have your own classroom, you know your students, the motivation behind their every behavior, the subtle look that reminds you of a quiet burden being carried by one of them, a special need that you covertly make accommodation for, a celebration, a struggle, an event, an appointment, all of which create the color of the lens through which each student sees and then engages the day. Being a sub, you have little or no prior knowledge as to how to best serve and to care for these students with whom you will be sharing a day or more, so when the morning bell rings and they take their seats, you just do your best to follow the plan while encouraging the students to follow the rules.  We all know that having a sub is rather like being on a field trip whereby the students carry an added sparkle in their eyes in recognition of the fact that at least some part of this experience will most certainly be exceedingly fun or humorous or both and quite entertaining at the very least. With that in mind, you just sort of courageously ride that wave of expectation balancing forever between management and sensitivity, fun and firmness, and too much rope or not enough, holding the image of Mary Poppins as an ideal. Education is a relational entity. Everything about it is wrapped up in relevancy and meaningfulness, neither of which can occur without empathetic awareness and understanding. Anything relational takes time, and time is what a sub simply does not have the luxury of claiming. So you go in there and you do what you can to care for those kids who, whether they know it or not, are trusting you to teach them.  Today, I have the added excitement of Christmas being just a couple of weeks away. Hallways will be lined with sparkly projects. Preparations and rehearsals for evening concerts and programs will be the cause of tremendous additional bustling and schedule rearranging in every inch of the school building.  The students will be flying with exuberance, as they should be.  So I will wear a flamboyant Christmas sweater to remain in the swirl of this lovely joyous Christmas spirit that I will be privileged to be a part of for a day. In this precious season of love and hope and peace, those are the exact gifts I hope the students receive from me today.  Well, my coffee cup is now dry, the sun is newly smiling at the horizon’s edge, and it’s time to get ready for subbing at Christmas time.