Good Teacher, Bad Teacher ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, April 30, 2007

Good Teacher, Bad Teacher

I was sitting on the maroon, synthetic leather couch in the teacher's lounge when the phone range. I continued to read P.D. James' The Skull Beneath the Skin, kindly deferring to the Real Teacher who was finishing up her lunch. She picked up the phone.

"Hello. Mmm hmm. Let me see." At this point she paused and stared at me so pointedly I looked up from the murder mystery midway through a very suspenseful paragraph. "No, he's not in here. Sorry." I felt a little honored, since it's not often I'm mistaken for a Real Teacher, even for a few moments in a telephone conversation. But, as it turned out, I hadn't been. After she resumed eating, the Teacher turned and smiled at me. "I told them you weren't in here."

Amazing. Speechless, I inwardly repented of the times I have taken the Real Teachers to task for their cavalier dismissal of us substitutes. "Wow," I said. "That's really kind of you." Everyone knows the fate of substitutes who are asked for by phone in the teacher's lounge: they are routinely deployed to cover an extra class. "Thank a lot!" I said.

Of course, I knew the Main Office wouldn't give up so easily. They are all-seeing when it comes to their subs. They knew where my classroom was. Still, with only three minutes left in my next class, I began to think that the subterfuge of the friendly Teacher had proven effective. And then, in the tear-jerking final moments of Adam Sandler's Big Daddy, that day's assignment (note instances of sarcasm), the phone rang.

"Well, you probably know why I'm calling," said the secretary apologetically.

As I made my way to the extra assignment, sacrificing the "planning time" I typically use for studying Greek verbs or reading murder mysteries, I felt, well, disappointed. A perfectly good scheme had been crushed effortlessly by the powers that be. And then I encountered the second Real Teacher. He did not offer a creative way for me to avoid covering his class.

Instead, what he said was, "Would you come back at 1:05?"

"Sure," I replied. "I'd be happy to go sit in the teacher's lounge for fifteen more minutes, catering to your whimsical sense of timing, while you give your students some parting instructions before you jet. I'm here to serve, after all, and do not need to be treated as a person. Robotic requests work just fine." Actually, I just said the first part. Fifteen minutes later I came back to cover the class, calculating that my time to shine had arrived when the Teacher yelled a few parting instructions at his class and walked out. Upon their Teacher's departure, the class quickly acknowledged a couple of facts, 1) that I was in the room, and, 2) that I was human. We got along great.

Some days the disparity evident in human nature just hits me. And how do you account for it? A bad night's sleep? An irritating student? A rejection of grace? God help us all.

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Anonymous said...

Ha ha, thanks for the chuckle this morning - it's nice to see other people enjoy the work day with a similar outlook (as a corporate paralegal, I am not often looked on as human either) :) Great writing!

Ariel said...

Thanks, Bekah. Cool that someone else lives "inside" this perspective. Well, cool for the sake of empathy...not so cool in the sense that you have to put up with it! This stuff does provide good blog fodder, though.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife