The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

A Chorus of Huzzahs

Today I was a 6th grade Language Arts teacher at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High. I have subbed for both of the 6th grade Language Arts teachers recently, although this time I was there for the teacher that has only used me once before. It was a good experience, and I fully expected today to be another great afternoon as MSJH.

I was slightly delayed leaving for work, though, so I made it to class with about a minute to spare before the bell rang. Having only been there once before, I don’t really know these classes all that well. They have seen me in the halls, and I’ve been there for a couple of their other teachers but, by and large, I just don’t know them very well. Certainly not as well as I know the other 6th graders who have Language Arts across the hall.

So I was quite unprepared for the reception I received when I walked into the room. Most of the class was already there, sitting quietly in their seats while waiting for their teacher to arrive. There was a sudden spontaneous chorus of huzzahs (possibly hurrahs or even hoorays), clapping, and yells like, “YES! Mr. V! Woo hoo!” and “Awesome! It’s my favourite sub!” As I walked the halls of MSJH, students said hello, asked how I was doing, and welcomed me. Once again, I am reminded of how well-regarded I am as a teacher, and particularly as a substitute teacher.

After I got home, I checked on the various education-related blogs that I have started following recently, and I saw this interesting post about whether or not substituting is, in some ways, a popularity contest. This was my response:

Subbing is absolutely a popularity contest! But it is a popularity based on willingness to follow a teacher’s plans, demonstrating excellent classroom management, and makes the best of the time. Quality subs are also able to connect with the students, so that the class will ask the teacher to have him or her return.

I have been fortunate enough to sub nearly every single working day this entire school year, primarily in two districts. The reason? I am popular with teachers, students, and the administration. Quality subs rise to the top.

I had been warned that some of the classes might be difficult. My two Language Arts classes were great, though. They were reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders while listening to an audiobook recording of it. The last period study hall has been quite crazy as of late. I told them that their teacher left a note that anyone whose name was written down would receive an automatic detention. Then one of the administrators came in and told them that if I had to send anyone up to her office, it would be an automatic Saturday detention. There was not a peep out of anyone the rest of the period. Yet, even before the warnings were made, the class was already working quietly. Popularity certainly has its benefits!

The year is quickly coming to a close, and I expect the number of assignments to dwindle as a result. I have no idea what I’ll be doing next year, or even this summer, but I am looking forward to these last weeks of working with my many thousands of students in two districts!

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