This week wrapped up my eleventh year as a substitute teacher. I’ve slowed down the last three; in fact I officially retired in 2013 and have just worked a day or two a week during that period. But it’s still a lot of fun (most of the time) and I have another year on my license, so I plan to be back at it again in three months.
One of the rewards is seeing how the kids I met in middle school, sometimes even elementary school, are turning out. Four years ago, I had a long-term job with students with emotional problems in the 2nd through 5th grades. One of those students just completed his first year of high school. He still has some progress to make, but he’s doing much better than when I first met him. (He’s also taller than me now.) I also met a young lady in middle school about three years ago. She was hobbling on crutches at that time; this year as a high school freshman she was in a dance class. I remember two Chinese students arriving at middle school two years ago. At the time they spoke no English and were being tutored in their new language every day during their lunch study period. Once one of them missed his school bus home because there had been a bus substitution and his language skills weren’t good enough to understand the change. I saw them this year in an “English as a Second Language” course, along with an Egyptian and a Syrian; all seem to be progressing well. It’s all part of growing up.
One of my goals this summer is to find my old slide rule from college. It’s somewhere in the house and pretty battered, but I want to show the kids what we used before electronic calculators. Slide rules were amazingly accurate; airplanes have been designed with them. It’ll be a good lesson in how fast technology is changing. Speaking of change, this reminds me of the time a test bonus question was “Who was president when you were born?”. I was an aide in that class the day they reviewed the test, and I freaked everyone out (especially their teacher) when I said “Harry Truman.”
There is so much to learn these days. I’m just trying to do my part.