In my lifetime I have had to supplement my income with many different occupations to support my ART habit. I have worked in restaurants (fast & natural food), bars & a memorable 9 years at a grocery with a deli. Boring & tedious work!! But art jobs (murals, portraits, signs, faux finis, etc) only covered about 40% of the bills. It was brought to my attention that I could use my Bachelor of Fine Art degree to substitute teach at the local schools. Heck! I like short people, I could always find another food industry job if it didn't work out & it would certainly be a change... Little did I realize 3 1/2 years ago how much of a change.
In the 4 schools I work at, on an almost full time basis, I know over 400 names. I used to be the kind of person who forgot a name 30 seconds after being introduced. As a substitute teacher it is a mandatory survival technique to remember. Most of my precious ideals about the nature of children, like innocence, hope, love, endless possibilities, etc., have had to be modified to include the instinctive animal nature of the young to test their boundaries to its' limits. There are universal laws about how children will behave when a substitute comes in the room. You know them, 1. Try to get away with as much as possible. 2. Pretend ignorance of all the usual rules. 3. Disrupt or stall the lesson plan, claim that the class has already done this assignment, or has no clue where that book is... 4. Try to trick the substitute with: name switches, language problems, "we always do it this way" instructions, " our teacher lets us do this", etc. 5. Or just plain old ignore the teacher, (usually this technique is used by older kids). I must say, working as a substitute teacher is never boring!!! I am challenged every day to communicate effectively, keep modeling polite, positive behavior & practice forgiveness (sometimes by the minute...). I am human & sometimes don't live up to perfection...yet I keep trying. If I had to write a job description for this kind of work it would read: Intelligent, Loving, self confident, kind, generous, forgiving, open, communicative, adaptable, creative, sympathetic, calm, thoughtful, compassionate, quick witted, benevolent, humane, considerate, understanding, tender, composed, diplomatic, gentle yet firm dominatrix desired for temporary work with impressionable & volatile young people. Must bring own carrot & (figurative) stick... If anyone knows where to find that effective cologne 'Essence of Authority' I would gladly pay any reasonable price.
When I began working at school, I didn't realize how much I would carry home with me. It is a lot like being the stone that skips across the lake, I don't get to have deep relationships with the students, but, I do get to know a little about all of them. My heart holds them with hope; there is good in each & every one. It seems the human condition is to have to struggle, I don't know anyone who has had a perfectly easy life & trial by fire seems to be how we are formed. We make choices, amid the chaos, which shape our evolution towards being human. (personal definition, Human: to be self responsible, honest & compassionate.)
December 3, 2005
When the little munchkins interrupt an instruction with "We don't do it that way or we always do it this way..." I ask them "Who is the teacher today?... That's right, ME the Pirate Teacher & we're going to do this MY way. Arrrghhh" It saves me from having to find the actual teachers personal props or take the extra ( vital to holding little minds attention) time to read more instructions... This has led to a certain infamy with some children. There is something ineffably touching about having a small person see me around campus or even at the grocery store yell out " Hi Pirate Teacher!"
Occasionally a student will pop out with "If you're a pirate, what have you plundered ?" (to paraphrase) At which point I must hang my head in mock shame explaining " I am a pirate with a moral problem . . . I have morals, which is a severe handicap in the pirate business. That is why you are lucky enough to have me as your teacher today."
Children need be reminded of basic facts almost continuously on the road to self responsibility. Often when confronting a child with a misbehavior, I will ask, "How can I get you to remember to ? "(play nice, be respectful or be safe) "Should I hang you upside down & pull your ears or should you say "I will play safe" 10 times?" Hardly anyone ever chooses the physical torture method of memorization & the rare child who calls my bluff gets "I'll work that into my schedule, I have a backlog of tormenting to catch up with. Now say 10 times . . . ."
Dread Pirate Bonney
Like the famous Dread Pirate Roberts, you have a keen head for how to make a profit. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!