on substitute teaching

Good Morning, class. My name is Ms. Ozuna. I’ll be your sub today. Before we get started, a few things:

1. I don’t know where your teacher is.

Unless I’ve subbed for your teacher before and he/she decided to use the contact information I left behind with my trademark thank-you card, I don’t know if your teacher is sick, on jury duty or dead. Don’t ask me. I’m here because the district wide automated system either called me on my phone or I logged into the system online. In both cases, I was the one selecting this job for today. Hopefully your teacher let you know that he/she would be out.

2. I don’t know your brother.

While there are only 2 high schools, about 5 middle schools and maybe 8 elementary schools I regularly sub for, I’m not going to remember everyone’s name. Unless your brother’s sister’s friend’s cousin was really really awesome when I subbed his/her class or I gave him/her a detention for a reason I’ll never forget, don’t expect my face to light up in recognition when you drop a (probably very generic and common) name in my lap.

3. I have a seating chart.

Most of the time – even if there is no lesson plan – I’m at least left a seating chart. I love them because within 5 minutes I can know at least 70% of your names. If your goofing off I just take a quick glance at it in front of me and get your attention with your full name.  I can also use it to quickly take roll without having to embarrass myself and/or offend you trying to pronounce all of your names. While I’m doing this, the chart also tells me if you’re not sitting in your assigned seat.

Elvis is not amused by your bullshit.

Elvis is not amused by your bullshit.

4. I do not believe in free periods.

Your teacher may have had an emergency and did not have time to prepare a lesson for us. That doesn’t mean that you are free to do whatever you want while I stand in the middle of the chaos, screaming at you to shut up while trying to remember my yogic breathing. One disastrous day a teacher left me a copy of Free Willy 2 and assured me that everything would be fine. Yeah, right. The class spent the movie taking notes and writing me an essay on oil spills.

5. I have never been fooled by the “sometimes” con.

Oh, sure. Your teacher sometimes lets you sit wherever you want and sometimes lets you play games on the computers. I’m so lucky I happened to show up on one of those rare days of liberation. Even if you’re telling the truth, there’s no way I’m letting it happen on my watch.

Put your ass back in your seat and shut your damn mouth.

6. If you deserve it, I can and will be strict. Telling me that I’m “supposed to be cool” earns you no points with me.

Look, I get it. I’ve never met you and you’ve never met me. If you don’t like your actual teacher, today you might even be a model student, just because you temporarily have a clean slate. But this is my job. I’m not going to throw out the lesson plan if there is one. I’m not going to let you get away with things that you’d normally be written a detention for. I get here at least 30 minutes before school starts so that I can familiarize myself with your classroom and the disciple procedures. This is my job. I’m here to temporarily take the place of your teacher. I’m not here to be your friend or your babysitter. I’m not Mary Poppins and I do not come made to order.

Now. Let’s get started, shall we?


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