Mrs. Shop Girl*

(via: http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/pju/lowres/pjun937l.jpg)

What. a. whirlwind.

As you know, after a year of pestering the Head Honcho Hiring Man of my school board he took pity on me and finally gave a spot on the supply list. (If you live outside of Ontario, you may know this as an occasional or substitute teaching position. Same deal.)  I received the email to come in for a sign up session / sign all the paperwork  at the board office last Tuesday.

So, bright and early Tuesday morning I donned my pretty teacher clothes, arrived way too early and sat in my car imagining my life as a supply teacher. I tried to imagine how long it would take for them to process my criminal record check and all the paperwork so that I could begin teaching as quickly as possible. I had my fingers crossed for a week from that day.

I walked into the room and found about 20 other teachers all waiting for the same session I was. I sat at a table and quickly did introductions and found that most of the people there were in the same boat as me–we’d all graduated the year before and had been volunteering / working crap part-time jobs waiting for something to open up.

Except for that one girl who had graduated teacher’s college the day before her interview. (secretly I hated her just a little bit. Don’t judge me. haha)

It was supposed to be a two-hour session, but we are just so smart that we flew through the paperwork in record time and after 45 minutes the woman in charge asked if any of us we available to being teaching a little earlier than expected. In an unexpected turn of events I somehow ended up with the entire week off work so I raised my hand in the air, as did a handful of others. She asked us to stay behind and those not ready to begin teaching filtered out of the room.

She then picked up a stack of assignments and told us they needed teachers for that afternoon. I had no time to think, no time to be afraid, I just stood up, walked to the front and took my assignment–elementary gym coverage.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m a high school English, History and Special Education teacher? haha

I wasn’t given any other details, only that I should bring running shoes with me. I drove home, changed into something a little less dressy, grabbed my runners and headed out the door. I arrived a little early so I have time to look over the lesson plans left for me and get a sense of the gym classes I’d have that day. The office was chaos when I got there, but finally the principal came out and asked who I was. I explained that I was in for Mr. Gym Teacher.

He looked utterly perplexed.

Apparently this teacher hadn’t even bothered to let him know that he’d be gone for the afternoon and had just booked a supply without telling the office. haha! He then told me that I wasn’t teaching gym. I had 29 grade 7’s for the five afternoon periods. The principal then told me that there were 10 IEP’s in the class and that it had a bit of a “reputation”.

And there were no lesson plans.

Not only were there no plans, there wasn’t even a schedule of what his regular subjects for the afternoon were. Awesome.

Tiiiiiiime to improvise. I got the kids into the library for two periods, then it was up to me to throw together a literacy and math lesson to cover the remainder of the afternoon. It was a challenging class, but thankfully I was able to draw from my experience of teaching grade 7 last year and made it through without too much difficulty. I didn’t have to send anyone to the office and we got through a fair bit of work.

At the end of the day the teacher who has the same class in the mornings came in to check on me and was surprised to see that I was still in one piece. She then told me that the last two supply teachers had run out of the room bawling at the end of the day and had asked not to be requested back.

Ha. Wimps. (KIDDING.)

I cleaned up the room, left a detailed note for the teacher and walked to my car and realized that I had just finished my first assignment. For months I had dreamed about how terrifying it would be to walk into a school I that I was unfamiliar with. How terrible it would be to get into a class and find that there were no plans left for me. To have to teach a huge class with a reputation for their behavior with supply teachers.

I got all three on my first day.

I not only survived, I loved it. No plans? Behaviour kids? BRING IT ON.

I had a call every day last week. The rest were all in different high schools and it was so fun. I’ve taught English, Literature, Civics and Careers, and tomorrow I’ve already been called back to a school to teach Business and Computers all day. I know it’s still new, but I can safely say that I don’t just like supply teaching, I LOVE it. I love being in a different class every day. I love meeting new people and taking on new challenges.  I love winning over a group of kids who try and pull the regular tricks on their supply teachers.

I am excited to begin every day, and words cannot express how good it feels to feel that way again. I knew that I missed teaching, but I didn’t realize just how much. I finally feel like I’m on my way.

I also decided to keep my part-time job for the time being. My manager has graciously offered to let me work Saturdays until the end of the school year, then I’ll work through the summer and permanently leave in September. As tempted as I was to run into the store waving my resignation the same day I got the job offer, I decided to suck it up and take the extra money over the summer.

September’s not that far away, right?

In the meantime, I’ll just stay on this supply teaching high as long as I can. I’m already collecting a wealth of stories that I cannot wait to share with you.

Life is good.

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