There’s No Substitute For Good Teachers

, , , , | Learning | June 16, 2021

My father was a life-long high school teacher. When he retired from full-time teaching, he became a substitute teacher. Being in rural Alberta, that meant driving long distances to many different schools in all directions. He was in such demand that he ended up working almost full-time and driving much more than he did before. He enjoyed being in demand, though, often having to tell schools that he couldn’t sub for them because another school had already booked him.

Being able to say no was a privilege that he enjoyed being able to have, but in practice, he almost never did if his time wasn’t already spoken for.

He told me about one school he ruled out permanently, though. He said it was due to a single incident, but from talking to him, I knew that there was also an underlying issue that bothered him.

The incident? He had an off period one day and was walking down the school hallway during class. A male teenage student came out of a classroom in front of him and then yelled back into the classroom, “I’m going to take a s***, okay?!”

Dad: “I’m not going to sub there again. Anyway, it is a very long drive there.”

Me: “Did you talk to anyone at the school there about it?”

Dad: “No. I didn’t see a point. He wasn’t my student, it wasn’t my class, and I’m just a sub. The boy’s teacher should deal with it, not me. I don’t have to sub for them.”

Me: “In all the decades that you’ve taught, you must have witnessed bad behavior similar to this before. You also drive just as far to other schools to sub. What makes this different?”

Dad: “Well, I don’t have to put up with stuff like that anymore. I’m semi-retired. Plus, they’re a Roman Catholic school and they made me sign a document stating that I was a Christian. I understand why they do that, but what I believe has nothing to do with being a good teacher.”

I agreed with him whole-hardheartedly. Unfortunately, he felt that he couldn’t just tell that school outright that he wouldn’t sub for them anymore. He was concerned that the word would spread that he was “picky” about schools. So, from then on, he broke his own rule of honesty and always told that school he was already booked or busy when they called.

He continued subbing for several more years at several schools after that before retiring fully. Even after he stopped registering as a substitute teacher with the school boards and schools, he would still get calls occasionally from schools asking him to PLEASE come in for a day. He told me that he liked being needed but that his ailing wife needed him more.

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Not Too Proud For Easy Money

, , , , , | Learning | June 6, 2021

When I was in high school in the late 1970s, it was relatively common for other students to toss change on the floor and wait to laugh at the person who picked it up. I had no problem with that. I’d make a little over a dollar a day for stopping, bending over, and picking up change around six times a day.

It took maybe a total of one minute per day. Minimum wage was $3.15 an hour. So, in a week, I’d earn about two hours of minimum wage take-home income for five minutes of bending over and picking up the money that morons were willing to throw away.

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Somebody’s Slope Is About To Become Much More Negative

, , , , , , | Learning | June 3, 2021

In my junior year of high school, I am put in a math class with a teacher fairly fresh out of school. She is by no means a bad teacher, but because she is new, she is a bit naive. For example, other math teachers usually create two similar but different versions of a test with different colors that alternate each row so that people can’t cheat, but she didn’t do this… at least at first.

It must have become obvious to her that people were sharing answers. On our fifth quiz, I am working on it and realize the girl next to me is copying my answers. Whatever, I don’t really care. But then, the graph on her quiz catches my eye and I realize that her slope is negative while mine is positive, and then it hits me: they’re different quizzes. I just let that ship sail and let her do what she wants.

Quiz scores come back and my classmate gets a zero while I get a perfect score. At parent-teacher conferences, we get to reminisce about that interaction, and I get to tell my teacher that I realized both that my classmate was cheating and that they were different tests and chose not to try to alert her, which tickled my teacher pink.

She started color-coding the versions after that, but she put a lot of cheaters to shame on the first one!

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Someone Stole This Substitute’s Sanity!

, , , , | Learning | May 24, 2021

We are in class and we have a substitute teacher. He introduces himself and then goes to look for the assignment but can’t find it.

Substitute: “Where is the assignment for the class?”

Student #1: “How would we know?”

Substitute: “I think one of you stole it.”

Student #2: “You probably just lost it or [Regular Teacher] forgot to leave it for you.”

Substitute: “If none of you admit to stealing the assignment, I’m calling the police.”

Nobody admits to stealing it because nobody did.

Substitute: “I’m calling the cops.”

The substitute gets on the phone in the classroom and dials a number, presumably 911.

Substitute: “Yeah, hello, I’m at [High School] and the students stole the assignment.” *Pause* “Yeah, I’m serious.” *Pause* “Yes, I want you to send someone to arrest them all.” *Pause* “Okay, great.” *Hangs up*

A few minutes later, the police officer who works in the school shows up.

Police Officer: “You called?”

Substitute: “Yeah, this class stole the assignment. I want you to arrest them all.”

Police Officer: “Did any of you steal the assignment?”

Class: “No.”

The police officer walks by our desks just to make sure we didn’t steal it, not that there would be anywhere to hide it since the “desks” are just tables with no place to hide the assignment.

Police Officer: “No, nobody stole it.”

Substitute: “Yeah, they did.”

Police Officer: “No, they didn’t.” *Walks out*

Substitute: “Don’t think you’re getting away with this. I’m telling [Regular Teacher]!”

The next day, our regular teacher said the sub left a very angry note that the class was so bad he had to call the police, but thankfully, she knew us better than that and thought it was ridiculous, as well.

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Getting The Book To Them Becomes A Story

, , , , , | Right | May 21, 2021

I am an author. I receive an email from a teenage reader.

Reader: “I really enjoyed your latest book. I’d like to read [Older Title], but it’s not at my library.”

This, of course, appeals to my vanity.

Me: “I’ll send you a copy via your school.”

I don’t feel comfortable asking for his home address.

Reader: “Seriously? That would be great. I go to [High School].”

I send him a copy of the book, but a few days later it comes back, marked “addressee unknown.” I email him.

Me: “The post office sent the book back. You go to [High School] at [address], right?”

Reader: “Yeah. I’m not sure what the problem is.”

Me: “Well, maybe they only looked at faculty names. I’ll label it ‘student’ next time; that should clear it up.”

I send the book again, and again it comes back “addressee unknown.” I email him again.

Me: “I can’t figure out what the problem is. I labeled it [Reader], STUDENT.”

Reader: “Oh, that’s not my real name. My real name is [Full Name].”

This name was completely different from the one he signed his emails with. I sent the book via that name and it arrived just fine.

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