Having a substitute teacher is always kind of nerve-wracking for me. It takes quite a bit of time to get lesson plans and materials ready for someone else to use, and when you return after your absence...well, there's no telling what you'll find!
Picture it: October. My first year of teaching. I had just received a memo saying that I was being sent to a district technology training and needed to prepare for a substitute. I was kind of excited, because I really needed a break by that time! I had been put in charge of leading the kids in creating our grade's entry into the school-wide pumpkin-decorating contest, so I thought that that would be a nice, wholesome activity that would keep the kids engaged while I was gone. My students had decided to decorate our pumpkins as "spooky graveyard" characters, complete with painted faces and 3-D bodies. The night before my training, I set out paints, brushes, newspapers, pumpkins, costumes, and various other arts-and-crafts supplies, slapped some instructions up on the board, and headed home for the evening.
(I know you're probably thinking that I was crazy to leave such an activity for my students to complete with a substitute. And you're right. I was crazy. All I can do is plead temporary insanity, because I was going nuts by that point. Don't get me wrong, I have loved every group of students, but still, we all need a break sometimes...especially first-year teachers.)
Anyway, the day after my training, I came back to my classroom, refreshed from my day "off" and ready to integrate technology into my lessons like nobody's business. Until I opened my classroom door. Honestly, I cannot imagine what exactly went down while I was gone, but it looked like one of those Spin-Art machines from the early 1990s had gone off in there.
The best part? As I waded to my desk through the paint splotches and costume remnants, I noticed a giant piece of paper on the floor. ??? When I got to the front of the room, I realized that it was my rules poster, which my students had torn off the wall! And then stomped on, judging by the footprints all over it.
So yeah, that was the first time I had a substitute. The second time, I got back to school about 30 minutes before the day ended. When I entered my classroom, I was struck by an overwhelmingly foul odor, which prompted me to ask my substitute what had happened.
"Two boys were mad that you were gone," she replied, "So they teamed up and decided to pee in their pants."
Right, because sit-ins are sooo over...everyone's having pee-ins now. I mean, guys, I'm glad you missed me, but let's keep the bodily functions in the bathroom next time, okay?
My experiences with substitutes have only improved from those beginnings. But even still, along with preparing my lesson plans, I've been keeping my fingers crossed that all will go smoothly next week. I'll let you know what happens!
p.s.: That pumpkin contest my first year? My students totally won. Yesss.