Tales of a Substitute Teacher | The Last Straw

“I am a strong camel but that was the last straw.” -unknown

Last week I had one of those “this is the last straw” kind of days. That was on Thursday. I took Friday off to regain my sanity and avoid murdering anyone and now I’m back. It’s Monday and I came in to a middle school to substitute teach for math.

I arrived at the school and gave the office secretary my name. She said that instructions were already in the classroom and that I had a plan period (no classes) for the next hour. They said I should go to the teacher’s lounge and wait or if I really wanted to, I could go to the classroom and read through the teacher’s plans. They said the classroom was #206, “that way,” and pointed down the north hall.

I walked down the north hall, all through the north hall and around another corridor and back. No 200’s. I circled back to the office and asked for a little help. Someone pointed me to a map of the building. There was no #206 on the map. Another teacher who was in the office walked me to #207, which was not in the north hall but actually down the east hall in the “Tech Lab” room.

I thought I was subbing for math?

I walked in and the room was full of students! There was an administrator in the room who said, “Oh good! You’re here. The sub is here.”

“They said I had plan this hour, I’m not sure if this is the right class.” I told her.

“Oh, but you’re subbing for so-and-so, right? This is her class.” She said, juggling the phone in one hand and the sub folder in the other.

“Here is her schedule.” I had come in at 6th hour after lunch and the class was titled Reading Seminar on the schedule.

I thought I was subbing for math?

As the administrator walked out of the room she told me I could send a student down with attendance. I said okay and proceeded to look for student rosters or a plan left by the teacher. At the very least a sub is supposed to take attendance. Next she is supposed to do the best she can to follow the teacher’s sub plans.


I asked the kids what they were working on.

“We were soldering yesterday but usually when we have a sub we watch a movie.”

Soldering? This class is neither reading seminar or math. What is going on?

There was no movie left on the teacher’s desk. There was no plan. Just a mess of pens, post its, stray papers, batteries, cables and office equipment. Luckily the kids all had their iPads and I could tell them they were allowed to play games with earbuds in or work on homework.

What would they have done if I’d spent the next hour in the teacher’s lounge like the office secretary had initially suggested?

Last straw!


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