My current part-time job is as a substitute teacher. The bad parts about this job are that sometimes I get really early morning calls (yes, 5:30 am is when they start), sometimes I don’t know where I’m going until I need to be out the door, often kids are rude, rowdy or worse, teachers leave horrible lesson plans and I have to stand up all day and maneuver around unfamiliar schools all the time. The good parts are that it’s probably the best $$ per hour that I could find, I dont’ have to do any prep, grade any papers or go to any meetings, and I can choose days I want to work and days I don’t, and there will ALWAYS be a job for me if I want it.

One constant about doing this is that it is always unpredictable and full of variety. For instance, tomorrow I’m going to do a 1st grade class at a small Christian school. Today, I did 11th grade American Lit at one of the largest high schools in town. The public high schools (6 in town) can be particularly intimidating, because they are HUGE, and the parking lots are HUGE, and I’m assigned to park in a specific numbered spot. (Often which are not marked clearly, or found on a one-way maze of a lot.) Also, if you have a “break period” or a prep, often they send you to the other side of the school to cover another class because there wasn’t enough subs for each teacher to have their own.

Today I went to one huge high school, found my parking space, went to check in at the office, and was told that I needed to cover a 1st period weights/PE class. I’m sure she could see the severe hesitation on my face. First, I’m wearing dress shoes, slacks and a sweater. Second, I’m 5 months preggo and not feeling very athletic, strong or graceful. I asked where to go, and she gave me a long list of directions to a side of the school that I had never been. Plucking up my courage, I set off, repeating her directions to myself, trying to look like I knew what I was doing. Following the directions exactly, I turned to open the weight room door and instead found….the men’s locker room. Sigh.

20 minutes of wandering, asking students (whom I’m guessing by their mohawks, dog collars, spiked tongues and purple hair have never voluntarily taken a weight training class in their lives) where the room was, I was directed to go through a completely dark gym to find a dark, huge, old, smelly, creepy weight room. By that time, there was only a few minutes left until school started, and I hadn’t seen any students. I tried to call the office, the weight room phone wasn’t working. No lesson plans, no teacher’s desk–no sign of life anywhere. And one minute until I’m supposed to have 34 kids in there.

I grabbed my bag and walked back through the dark gym to the hallway in the athletic wing and saw a handful of kids hanging out. “Hmmm..” I thought. “They are going to late for class! Tsk, tsk” the teacher in me thought. Then I realized…DUH! Maybe they are in my class! So I asked, and one of them told me that he is in another teacher’s weight training/PE class, but they usually start off all together. FYOOSH. Also, they aren’t allowed to go in the weight room or gym until the bell rings. Also, you have to make noise to get the lights to turn on. Gee, information that would have been helpful 20 minutes ago! So, then, 65 kids spilled into the gym, kind of stretching and looking at me, still with dress shoes and no lesson plans. FINALLY, 15 minutes after the first bell rings, the other teacher came in. He is actually very nice and helpful (he asked about my belly and said his wife is pregs and due in August) although tardy, and he split the class in half, sending me with the advanced kids and a student aide who took roll and who pretty much ran the class on stairs and sprints while I stood next to him and we chatted about his girlfriend and his freethrow percentages. It totally turned out fine, but it was just another example of the kinds of surprises I manage to find in this little “job” I have!