Every time the teacher across the hall, Mrs. B, is absent (which has been 8 days so far this year), I get that question. My response is always “unless I’m confined to my bed, I’ll be here.” While some students groan and complain about this, the majority are happy that I’m going to be an ever-present force in my classroom. I don’t flatter myself by thinking that every single lesson I teach is going to change the world, or even my students’ thinking, but I do see value in being consistently present and prepared.
Our school, like many others, has a subbing problem. The subs are treated and thought of as glorified babysitters, and students automatically assume they have a day off whenever the teacher is not present. At the most, there is a worksheet or book work for the students to do, often disconnected from the current topic of study or assessing students at a middle school level. These missed days emphasize a lackadaisical attitude among students – one that I’ve noticed is hard to overcome when the teacher returns to school.
At the beginning of the school year, I have my students fill out a survey. One of the questions on this survey asks students to identify three things they believe they will need from me this school year. One of my students identified his number one request as “No Substitutes – be here everyday.” His powerful recognition of just how important it is for a teacher to be in the classroom every day is what drives me to get up, even when I go to school while its dark and drive home in the dark. When I see him every day during 6th period, I think of his passionate desire to learn, to use time effectively, to constantly push forward toward his end goal of going to college and becoming a lawyer.
Last year, I got sick a few times (germy.students.), and had a few other issues (car accident, etc) that prevented me from being in school every single day. So far this year, I’ve missed none – something I’m proud of and want to maintain. Don’t get me wrong, I love having days off, and am enjoying sitting on my couch and taking a well-deserved break (Thank you, Veterans!), but I’m also getting ready for Monday.
Because my students are waiting.
And no, we won’t have a sub.