Did you gnow (the “g” is silent, as in know) a substitute teacher is entitled to work only 90 days in the nine-month school year for Springfield School District 186? Subs may work morer days if they sign up with school districts beyond Springfield and with parochial schools. I figure if a teacher can afford a car that will transport him/her beyond Koke Mill and Dirksen, he/she probably doesn’t need the work that much to begin with, but that’s parbably just gme (the “g” is silent as in nome). My heart belongs to Springfield public schools, so that’s where my motley countenance trots all too infrequently when I answer the calling.
Monday was one of my most rewarding days in this 90 day avocation. Mr. H’s English class at SoEa High truly impressed me with his rapport with his class, his enthusiasm for the finer points of grammics (as #43 might say) and his welcoming the news that I’m a Vachel Lindsay semi-scholar and complete reciter. When I told him about Vachel’s poem Simon Legree, he asked me to recite it to every class. I had arrived in time to watch him teach half a period (which is how I came to be so impressed with him) and he stayed as I recited the poem.
Call me a simpletune, but I THOUGHT the poem (you should Google it) SPOKE to a class of mostly black ladies and gentlemen with terrific-looking hair. I even made them listen to my mini-lecture that encourages students NOT to base their opinion of poetry on their experiences of hearing grownups read it aloud. I also pointed out how THEY should find a poem they like, memorize it and recite it when they want to impress their parents and recite it when they want to drive their friends into Macon County. (ha ha ha — they GOT it! Sharp students, these.) Then I recited the poem. If you’ve ever had Wayne Newton sing Dankashoen directly into your eyes as a live TV broadcast camera focused just on the two of you (and by now, what woman over 70 has not?) you will understand the reaction of most of the students as I recited the poem. And that’s okay. I did what I wanted to do, what Mr. H. asked me to do, bless him, and every student in his classes now lives, marked for life, and for the better, from the experience. Yes, there were some marmbled remurks, during those roller coastering 4.39 minutes of actual reciting time, but I stayed in character, and taught myself a few things while teaching them. I HOPE I am privileged to return to that terrific class room again.
No poetry disrupted life as SpHi science students have come to slouch through it. If poetry isn’t relevant, I don’t bring it up. But still I learned, I learned, I learned. (with apologies to Maya Angelou). Iin the 32 minutes I sat munching, lunching with some other science teachers, I asked for their advice. My new tactic of threatening delayed dismissal was not working out as will with the more worldly-wisely highly school students as it had with the middle schoolers. My mention of delaying dismissal by five seconds brought sardonic laughter instead of the anticipated brief return to quiet study. I said I am tired of having only putative threats to make; not promises of positive outcome. There was no POSITIVE incentive I could offer them. Just punishment. So what techniques to these experienced hands use in their classrooms. A friend, wife of a neighborhood association associate laughed, “When you find something, Job, be sure and let us know!”
Of the five classes, I kept two late, supported 100% by the school management. The first time, a black young lady with beautiful hair rose from her seat and approached me as though she had the pigskin and 30 yards and me between her and the end zone. When I physically blocked her, and adjusted as she tried to go under my arm, she returned to her seat. I thought she was learning something. Turns out, the security person I had called to come to my room (because I anticipated such a confrontation) arrived and stood with me at the door until I dismissed them. Second time, a white young lady with wonderful hair emulated her schoolmate. She explained to me (as most of the rest of the class remained seated) I had no right to punish the whole class because a few had misbehaved. I had not anticipated trouble with this class, so I had no reinforcements, but I engaged her in conversation after determining she would NOT return to her seat, and after the 30 second delay had elapsed I dismissed the class. I should have written referrals for both of these young ladies, but at times like these, I was in no mood for taking names. I do look forward to returning to that class, however, not because of the prideful malcontents . . . . but because of the prideful contents which 90 percent of them are. There is pleasure to be reaped from the good folks. That’s why I’m so glad to be in this line of work until I can find a full-time job.
I’m not done with this subject. But I’m running out of space and can’t share the universal lesson learned in science class. That’s in my planning book for this weekend. Stay attuned.
Thanks for reading this.
Live long . . . . . . and proper.