I wanted it badly. It was the perfect job at exactly the right time. It was coming at a moment when I was reconsidering my career and looking for a stream of revenue to sustain my family. As much as I adore the world of home furnishings and interior design, my friends know that I frequently feel the pull to shift gears and teach. This two-month assignment would have given me a more realistic picture of the teaching experience than what random substitute teaching has provided so far, and it would have paid a lot better too. (see my previous blog about substitute teacher pay.)
My mistake was not going directly to the principal at the earliest possible time. I was aware that the principal had to approve the selection, (Broward Schools's Substitute Teacher Handbook, page 9) yet I waited patiently for the English teacher and her administrator to introduce me. I nudged her every 7-10 days to make sure I was still on track for the job. And I totally seemed to be.
Their mistake was not recommending me to the principal at the earliest possible time especially when, to everyone's surprise, the teacher took leave 4 weeks ahead of schedule. On Monday October 12th, I sat in her classroom, getting the skinny on the curriculum and daily routines. She thought I was taking over, but then, got a phone call telling her the position had been filled by someone else...a person she didn't know. The pregnant teacher apologized but there seemed to be no recourse. I was deeply disappointed, and cried intermittently throughout the day. I'm just like that.
Two days later, I got a call from the principal. He was responding to an email I had written the night before asking for an explanation of interim sub protocol. He told me how important it was to find the right person for a job of this scope, and that he had no idea about me until it was too late. The woman he had approved was a former Monarch teacher whom he already knew and trusted to fill the job.
|Gianna (left) and Sammi en route to deliver the petition.|
As a parent and storyteller, I imagined that the petition delivery scene might have unfolded in a more dynamic way. I envisioned that the principal would have been genuinely touched by their desire to challenge the system and the peaceful and organized way in which they went about it. I was hoping he might have offered some acknowledgment, such as, "Wow! I am sure that you mom is a great teacher, and I am impressed by your persistence. But because of several factors, it just didn't work out. I spoke with your mom earlier his week, and hope to meet her soon."
The interim sub starts today. For the past 8 school days since the teacher took leave, however, there was a different substitute, who according to my daughter, was a self-confessed non-language artsy guy. He began each class with the vocab and grammar warm-up as instructed by the teacher, and then told the students, "The rest of the period is yours." "So what did you do?" I asked Sam. "We mostly played on our phones, talked quietly, and listened to music." I calculated this as 5 hours of wasted instructional time.
For my daughter's sake, I hope this interim substitute teaches, inspires, and carries forth in a way that would make Ms. Freeman proud.