Fifth graders are planting flowers (left) and designing a trellis with string and wooden stakes in a small container garden outside my friend’s classroom. My volunteer time in her garden has been curtailed (again) by a long-term sub assignment. Across campus this time, I’ve taken over a classroom of fourth graders after a teacher was fired. It’s a first for me. The fired part, that is. It’s my fourth time as a long-term substitute in elementary school.
Whether a teacher quits or is released from her job, the kids ask the same question: Hey, where’s our teacher? My job (should I choose to accept it) is to keep the students’ academic progress on track until a permanent replacement can be found. Eight weeks is my limit. Being in the classroom watching kids learn and grow is a joy, yes. But it’s also stressful, fast-paced, unrelenting, and a lot of work. I’m a retired teacher. I’d like to spend most weeks writing or working in the yard.