Subbing in Middle School: The 10th Circle of Hell

At 8 A. M. I was called by the sub teacher computer and asked if I would like an assignment that was for Tuesday at 7:30 A.M. Thinking it was Monday, I gladly accepted the job despite there being no instructions from the teacher.

About 15 seconds after disconnecting from the call, I realized that it was Tuesday and I needed to go out the door now. Throwing on presentable clothes and dashing out the door, I arrived in the office at 8:15. I was told my room number, signed in, checked the teacher's mail-box and went to the room.

When I got into the computer lab, that was my assignment, I was there to teach the computer skills class, I looked for the sub folder with everything I needed; lesson plans and class lists. However, I soon found out none existed. I noticed that there was a distinctly chaotic environment around the teacher's desk and in the general vicinity.

I did a sign in sheet for the first period and asked them to work on their projects. There were graphics, games, animation, and command creating from pre written code. They busied themselves and were rather on task.

My next period was free. I went to the office to obtain class lists. I walked a third of the way back to my classroom, when I realized the class assignment sheets did not have what period each section would be arriving. Also, there were three section 6's.

As the day wore on the students' ability to busy themselves with the projects deteriorated. One student created a scoring system in the game they were working on code for that just kept running up the score with every mouse click like an odometer in a vehicle traveling at 720 MPH or a mile every 10 seconds. I complimented the student and asked him to see if he could do a better hack. He was engaged for a while, but my suspicion is the program will not allow him to be creative.

Pubescent adolescents are incapable of sitting still for 50 minutes. Classes should not be longer than 30 minutes. Students are like jumping beans in a jug; bouncing off of each other and the walls. I found myself identifying with the Cuban system where middle school kids are put into the cane fields until 4 pm, then they start their lessons. The theory being, they will be too tired to imitate jumping beans and just might be able to concentrate for longer than 10 seconds.

My biggest problems were the terrible sense of wasted time not being able to engage these young people in productive learning activities and my gradual descent into the Hell of authoritarianism and officiousness. I was becoming everything I hated.

The students kept saying that the regular teacher was fired and suddenly I felt a sinking stomach sense as I realized I might be asked to return for the foreseeable future until they found a qualified and willing victim to throw into this 10th underworld circle.

At the end of the day I made my way to the office to check out. I was asked if I wanted to return. I asked if there would be a lesson plan? They replied probably not and informed me she (the teacher) had been placed on "directive leave." I told them I had no desire to be a baby sitter. If they had teaching work I was interested, but not what I had just experienced.

Upon returning to my house, while I listened to the Royals have their butts handed to them by the Giants, I poured an attitude soothing double tequila and waited with trepidation for the sub computer call.