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when writing a casual note...

Monday, May 8, 2017
...to an acquaintance, I mentioned  my sub. teaching experience today. Which reminded  me of my early days doing that sort of thankless work. When daughters were fairly young, and I was desperate to have funds that I did not have to 'ask for'. I did a good bit of the fill-in work for the school district. Some of the jobs were long term, replacing teachers who were planning to be away from their employment due to medical reasons. (Why pregnancy and childbirth is a medical condition I will never understand.)

In the course of going to many different elementary schools, I met most of the art teachers. And would give my contact info., ask them to call me when they expected to be absent. Back when the school system was willing to replace people that are now considered expendable or optional: music, art, PE teachers. And would pay a substitute to fill in and do their jobs when they were not available.

I had a couple of jobs where I filled positions for art teachers, and even though it was at times frustrating and difficult, back when I thought I wanted to be an art teacher, I did enjoy those extended weeks of working. If I am remembering correctly, the long term jobs were for either nine or twelve weeks, whatever the maximum the district would allow.The art teachers at that time were (and some still are) 'itenerant', meaning they traveled, and during the course of the week would be at two or three different schools. Going to one school for maybe two days a week, then another for two more, then the third school on the fifth day. Hauling materials in the back of your vehicle, and storing your tools and equipment in a closet. Feeling like someone's red-headed step-child.

But I was young, energetic, and probably anxiously hoping to get my foot in the door for the time when I would want to be employed, work full time. As I said, back when I thought I wanted to be a teacher and work in the public school system. I see people now who are retiring after putting in their time, devoting evenings and weekends to study for additional degrees to improve their retirement pay. And will occasionally kick myself, thinking: if you had put in the years, you would be sitting in the sand chair on the beach, watching the waves, with a cooler within reach.

But the things you have to do to get to that point, relazing, with the surf lapping at your toes: not such joy. I expect more and more of the teachers who are capable, with the years of experience needed to manage discipline problems while actually imparting knowledge are just waiting until they can exit.  Counting off the days or weeks until they can do the paperwork and tell the school district where to send their retirement checks.


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