Friday, December 3, 2021

A Parking Lot Filled with Clown Cars

 Adventures in Substitute Teaching


I recently listed my work as a substitute teacher among things I'd like to post more about here. There is certainly no dearth of  topics in that regard so let's start with one of the things that has surprised me about my job as a sub, all the running.  

I primarily teach in elementary schools.  It seems like all  of the elementary schools in my district   could be called Forrest Gump Elementary because wherever most students are going they are runn-ning. 

Most of the running takes place when individual or small groups of students are walking (and I use that term loosely) in the halls during or between classes, for example on their way back from their locker or the bathroom.  This also happens before or after  school  on the way to or from lunch or recess,  or on  their way to or from specials (STEM, P.E, and Music to name a few).  If it seems like it happens all the time it's because it happens all the time.  I stop students from running at least 30 times a day.

Before you get the impression that the running is all done in the hallways there is plenty of running in the classroom itself.  I have students who are just going 10 feet to the pencil sharpener but as soon as they get up, they are sprinting. 

 This is where I get most conflicted with my job as an educator/traffic cop.  I have been the long term art sub at my school since the beginning of the school year.  I have 4 rules I tell my kids.  The 3rd is be safe, and running in the halls, classrooms, and stairs is,  in the words of Ralph Nader, unsafe at any speed.  My conflict stems from the fact that the first and last of my rules are have fun.  As a teacher, I never want to crush the childlike spirit in my students.  There is a natural exuberance that comes with being a kid.  My oldest daughter never walked anywhere until she was about 7.  Until then she skipped everywhere she went.  She was homeschooled back then but regardless  I would have not have wanted to be the teacher who had to tell her to stop skipping everywhere. 

As the art teacher,  I travel every day into the student's classrooms pushing a cart with supplies for our activities.  As I mentioned, I stop at least 30 kids a day from running while rolling from class to class.  These are often the same students over and over again.  I'll stop a  kid they will walk a few steps and then just start running again unaware or not caring that I still have eyes on them.  

The biggest bang for your buck, running wise , at our school is at 2:10 when students begin to get dismissed for the day.  I teach a class downstairs until 2:05 and as I walk my cart to the elevator, the hallway is like a parking lot filled with clown cars. Children pour out of every classroom to go wait for their parents cars to pick them up, followed by a second burst of kids through every door to get in line for the busses.  While many kids are walking a good sized and speedy minority is off to the races.  The process repeats itself when I get off the elevator on the second floor.  
 
I have run in 3 5k's this semester and I have to admit that somedays I just want to run down the hall with them and I can't deny that some of them show some really good form.  Perhaps I should get off my safety kick, get a stop watch in  hand and start recruiting these kids to colleges on a track scholarship.  

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