Do you remember the movie Kindergarten Cop? Kids running around like wild animals, yelling, jumping, telling Arnold things he just did not want to hear??? Well, those kids, they are really out there, and now they are in 1st Grade!
This past month, I applied to be a substitute teacher at the elementary school. No, it doesn’t take much. Here in the DOD schools, all it takes is a high school diploma, and warm blood. I happen to have both, plus an extra car (most of the time) and free time, since both boys are at school all day. Tuesday was my first day. I got a 5th grade class. The teacher was out to receive his shipment of household items. His class was very nice. The day seemed to go by quickly. The teacher left detailed instructions, and 5th graders are fairly responsible, or at least know what is expected of them. Even though we had a fire drill, the day was without major incident.
Wednesday, I substituted for the wife of the teacher of the 5th grade class. She teaches 1st Grade. She was also gone on Tuesday, so this was the second day the kids had a substitute. Any plans or instructions the teacher may have left were moved or taken by the previous substitute. I only found half complete instructions, and I didn’t even find a class list until the end of the day. 1st Graders! Agh! You think teenagers are bad?? These kids already think they know everything.
There were two girls who tried to hijack the class, but telling all the other students what to do, turning on and off the light to get them quiet, manhandling a special needs boy while trying to take off his jacket, pulling papers and books and such off of shelves and telling me what I was supposed to do. There was one boy who went around and hit or kicked constantly, but as soon as anyone touched him, he would cry like a baby. One boy had a meltdown to tears when I announced whom the helpers would be, and it wasn’t him. The special needs boy pulled chairs out from under kids, and threw books and things around. Two of the three computers in the class were locked and unusable, an aide didn’t show up to help out, and about 5 kids complained of feeling ill and went to see the nurse multiple times throughout the day. Several other kids cried. I’m not sure why.
To make the day worse, the school was giving H1N1 shots that morning. One boy cried and hid under the teacher’s desk for 20 minutes because he did not want his shot. Several people made attempts to coax him out, to no avail. I lost one student between the bathroom and the cafeteria on the way to lunch. He showed up about 5 minutes later, looking disoriented. On the way to Specials in the afternoon, I sent two boys to the principal’s office for physically abusing each other. 1st Graders! I could not believe it. The registrar told me that one of the boys had been suspended earlier this week. It was only Wednesday! Even the Specials teacher yelled at the class for touching the projection machine and not listening. Poor kids. They must have felt out of sorts with their teacher gone for two days. Every few minutes I had to physically move students this way and that. It was like dealing with giant babies. They didn’t listen, and cried a lot, and were totally unreasonable and irrational. Did I ever mention how I feel about babies??
At the end of the day the counselor came in to read the class a story. I think it probably had some underlying counselor-type message. She ended up leaving mid-story because the class was out of control and would not sit still and listen. The regular teacher must have a secret no one else knows about. Other teachers told me that this class is the absolute, most difficult class in the entire school. They said someone else should have been the substitute instead of me, probably the same one they had on Tuesday. I guess that substitute volunteered for another class. I would have done the same. Two days of that class must qualify one for sainthood. Even Gus’ teacher told me to say ‘no’ if they ever called me to substitute for that class again.
That night as I lay in bed trying to sleep, I could hear the children in my mind. It’s been two days. I’m still recovering. There is a reason I became an engineer.