There is nothing like returning from a sick day to the chaos that has gone on in a classroom. Oh I know there are wonderful substitutes out there – and I’ve actually had the pleasure of experiencing one or two of them – but lately, whenever I’ve had to be out, it hasn’t been a pretty re-entry.
I know children aren’t exactly on their best behavior when the regular teacher is not present, but what went on in my classroom yesterday was incredible, IF the children can be believed. Despite rewriting my plans to be more “user friendly”, i.e., more on the worksheet and packets, less of the inquiry-constructive, despite my colleague laying out all the materials needed, what went on in my classroom yesterday was a puzzlement. The substitute reportedly came 15 minutes into the school day (okay, maybe there was a late call), and sat at the desk while the children did whatever. Seriously? Oh, and none of those carefully constructed learning activities, the ones I dragged myself out of bed at 5 am to rewrite while my throat throbbed uncontrollably? Not a single thing was touched – nope, not even the homework was distributed.
What did the kids do all day? Again, if the kids are truthful – they are very skilled in truthiness – they played games with each other, talked, and otherwise wasted a day. Which brings me to the next topic of this rant.
Noticing that nearly all of my paper in our Writing Center had disappeared (about a ream and a half), and noticing that fans, paper airplanes, and other crafts continued to pop up in the room, I used my powers of deduction – that’s why I am the teacher – to figure out that the kids had been taking this valuable supply. They know the rules so, sub or no sub, they know they shouldn’t have been wasting school resources on airplanes. So, I stopped what we were doing and confronted them.
The story became so squirrelly with he-said-she-saids liberally distributed into the conversation that everything had to come to a halt. I sadly have a group of students who find it challenging to admit to mistakes; they find it much easier to throw their peers under the bus, even when the peer’s participation in the “crime” seems out-of-character. After giving the kids a blast about wasting our valuable school supplies, along with a does of guilt (“I am so disappointed with the choices you’ve made…”), I asked each student to write about anything they witnessed that would help me discover the truth — and if they had anything further to say, they could include that as well.
I got the gamut of course: boys accusing just the girls, girls accusing just the boys, children who “don’t even know how to make a (sic) airplane”. My favorite letter is this one:
Dear Mrs. Bisson
I am not going to lie to you. I did not use alote (sic) of your paper I used a little and now I see I am wrong. I am so sorry to dissapoint (sic) you. I hope you can forgive me.
Oh and almost everyone was using paper
Sometimes it’s hard to keep a straight face.