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On my first day as a substitute teacher I was feeling so many emotions all at once. I recently moved back to my hometown so my first job as a substitute teacher was at my alumni elementary school! I was nervous, excited, and I had no idea what to expect. I woke up the morning of my first day exhausted because I couldn't sleep the night before but ready! When I arrived I was greeted by all my old teachers and it was the best and warmest welcoming I could have experienced on my very first day.
After receiving the notes from the teacher, being shown the classroom, and receiving keys and codes to the copiers, I began to breathe a little easier. I made copies of the assignments for the day and went back to the classroom to sit at the desk and read over the teacher's notes. I began to notice that something was missing... THE KIDS. I read the notes over and over and couldn't figure out what was happening—later, I realized it was a late start day. The kids wouldn't arrive for another 50 minutes... I sat there feeling kind of silly but then I began to panic... The notes I had were all incorrect because they were for the wrong day! I frantically searched for her lesson book to see what she had planned for the day. That's when the next problem was about to show its ugly face...
Unorganized Paper Chaos
The classroom itself was a disaster! There were piles of papers everywhere and nothing seemed to have a home or a place. I began to feel the panic burn deeper and deeper in my chest. The office must have sensed my panic because one of my old elementary school teachers walked through the door into the classroom to help me search through papers and piles of books for the lesson book. After searching for the lesson book we discovered how much time we had wasted—there was nothing written down for Wednesday in the book...
First Grade Arrival
So, on my first day as a substitute, I am expecting 19 second graders with very little planned for the entire day. I started the class off with math, the only thing the teacher had planned for the day, and they did math until the first recess. While the students were at recess, my old teacher and I got cracking on a lesson plan for the day. I must admit, if you are wanting to be an educator, this was extremely fun—stressful, but fun! The students at this school are working on "Kindness," so a lot of our activities revolved around kindness and how the students view kindness.
One of the activities that we came up with was a worksheet on "My Best friend." I asked the kids to write about their best friend, to draw a picture of their best friend, to describe their favorite things about their best friend, and why their best friend is their best friend. This activity allowed the students to reflect on important people in their life and why they are indeed important.
After a long day of stressful, last minute, lesson planning, I walked the kids out to the busses and ended their school day. My worst nightmare as a substitute came true. The teacher left zero lesson plans and I had no idea what the students were learning or what any of their goals were—the classroom was a disaster and this made not having a lesson plan so much more stressful. BUT, with the help of other teachers and staff members, it was the best first day I could have asked for. I was blessed with the privilege to kick off my career where I started my education. The moral of this stressful story is, as educators, it's extremely important to work together. There's no stealing from one teacher to another, there's only passing along useful information that could help shape the future generation. I'm sure the students won't remember this day 20 years from now, but I will, and I won't forget the kindness that my fellow educators showed me and I hope I carry it with me to when I'm an experienced educator and there's another teacher who needs my help.