Handing your class over to a substitute is one of those things teachers seem to universally feel some anxiety about.
You're not only handing over your space, but you're also handing over your kids, your plans, etc. Still, there are times that it's necessary and it's not like a substitute can mess things up too badly, right?
One Reddit user asked:
So listen, there are countless wonderful and amazing substitute teachers around the world who education systems would totally fail without.
This article is not about them.
This article is about the folks who need to be led away in handcuffs.
This article is about folks who wake up on the HGTV side of the bed and decide to give the teacher's classroom a total makeover.
This article is about ... well ... these people.
Adam's "Phone"i feel sick butters GIF by South Park Giphy
I had a Grade 1 and 2 class last year and one student had diabetes. Let's call him Adam.
So Adam had a cell phone that beeps when his blood sugar is too low/high. It's connected to the monitor in his arm/hip. The cell phone has no other uses, no apps, no data, not connected to the school wifi.
The substitute saw his phone on his desk and promptly took it away as per the "no devices" rule.
During gym class an EA comes in to make sure everything is ok. Adam is visibly ill. He is pale, sweating; the whole works. Luckily this EA knows Adams medical plan, instantly asks the Adam for the phone and he explains that the substitute took it away in the morning.
The EA then LOSES IT on the substitute demanding the phone. The substitute calls in the principal - to demand that they reprimand the EA.
Instead, she got reprimanded herself as obviously she did not read the students safety plans.
She was asked to leave and the principal taught the class the rest of the day. Adam was fine, drank a couple juice boxes and had a granola bar. Mom picked him up shortly after.
The Miracle Of Birth
Back when I was a teacher, I had a sub decide my plans weren't good enough for her and went rogue. She decided to show my students videos of animals giving birth on YouTube.
I taught sixth-grade English...
Making The Space Your Own
Re-arranged my room.
Not in a "Moved Student A away from Student B and put her by Student C" way.
In a "Move the giant rug over to the opposite corner of the room, and completely change the layout of student desks, and rearrange a bookshelf" way.
I had the same thing happen!
Except she took my three big bookshelves apart and threw them in the dumpster. She said that she didn't like them and they didn't look like they belong in the room anyway.
I came back to the books just in a big pile in the middle of the room. Definitely the weirdest experience as a teacher.
Went to sleep for 1.5 hours. My class was freaking amazing—the sweetest, most thoughtful group I've ever had. When I got back the next day, I asked how the sub was.
Me: How was the sub?
Them: uhhh... he was fine. He kinda took a nap for a while.
Me: WHAT?! What did you guys do?
Them: Worked quietly so that we wouldn't wake him up. Eventually we ran out of work, so we just had silent reading.
Me: For how long?
Them: From when we started working until it was time to go outside.
Me: That's a really long time! Look, I am glad that you guys were so thoughtful, but if something like that ever happens again, please wake the sub up. It's not safe for the sub to sleep. He needed to be awake in case something happened.
Them: We would have woken him up if we really needed to. But we also figured he probably really needed the sleep.
Seriously. The SWEETEST class ever!
Such An Intriguing Cat
I had a cool Chinese Lucky Cat that went missing after I had a sub.
My students said the sub seemed really intrigued by it, talked about it several times, and even moved it from the shelf where it sat and brought it over to my desk.
It was gone when I returned the next day. 😒
How The Grinch Ruined Christmasgrinning the grinch GIFGiphy
The first year I taught 5th grade, I really wanted to do something special for my students before Christmas vacation.
I spoke with my team and we came up with the idea to make every single student a personalized Christmas ornament. We were going to surprise them by displaying the ornaments on a Christmas tree the day before vacation and they would be able to take them home.
I was gone for a department thing the day before we were going to set up the tree, and one of the least liked subs was scheduled for my class. Since I had stored all the ornaments in my closet, I simply asked if the students needed any supplies, make sure to get them yourself and not let them see the surprise.
The thing about this sub, and the reason she wasn't liked, was that her first line of defense was always to threaten to take away something from for misbehaving: recess, free time, lunch, etc.
I think you know where I'm going with this...
Fast forward to the end of the day, I get back to my classroom in the last 30 min of class so I could dismiss them.
All of a sudden, I'm met with 25 kids asking about their ornaments. I tried to play dumb and asked them what they were talking about.
Of course the sub said something.
She told the students about the ornaments and said if they misbehaved, she would tell me and I would take away their ornaments.
Instantly, I was filled with horror that the surprise was ruined for all 5th grade. They're kids, they told the whole grade during recess.
Also anger because that damn sub ruined the surprise and disappointment because I really wanted to see their faces when they walked through the door the next day and saw a special Christmas tree with their personalized ornaments.
It's not the biggest deal or anything, but I was really upset that weekend. To this day, when I talk to my old partners, I still refer to her as the Grinch!
They Left A Note
There was a harpsichord in the front of the classroom used both for demonstration and performance.
Not knowing what he was doing, the sub tried to tune 3 notes that had gone mildly out of tune while I was away. He managed to break the strings on all 3 notes and left a message inside reading: "Sorry about that . . ."
In 45 Minutes
A few of the periods I taught were co-teach classes where a percentage of the students in the class have special needs but can work well enough in a general population classroom with assistance from a special education co-instructor.
These classes were often very rewarding to teach, but one downside of teaching that population from a logistical standpoint is that I was often required to attend 'ARD' meetings. Basically every special education student has a meeting about twice a year, sometimes more frequently depending on need, where administrators, teachers, counselors, parents/guardians, and the student themself all get together to go over their status and review the various educational accommodations the student is receiving to determine what may or may not need to change to best suit their needs.
I didn't have a problem with attending these meetings per se, but because they only take ~1 period, and several teachers are rotating through various meetings over the course of a day, the school had devoted 'ARD subs' who were more akin to babysitters (at best) than substitute educators. That means that during that one period, hell can randomly break loose.
One year I had a 'tough' student who had some serious attitude problems, but was a good person underneath it all and with whom I'd done a lot of work with to improve her engagement and interest in my class.
About half way through the year, I got called for an ARD meeting during the period I had said student. In my absence of ~45 minutes the sub decided to pick a petty argument with my kid, who was rightfully offended but unwisely overreacted.
Things escalated to making threats and nearly coming to blows with the sub. My student ended up with in-school suspension for a while.
Getting the story from all parties and witnesses involved later, it was pretty clear the sub was to blame, and the kid who I'd worked so hard with was back at square one. I eventually got her back on track, end she ended up with one of the highest grades in my class at the end of the year.
I could only imagine how much better she could've been without that setback and the amount of trust in adults she'd lost after being punished for something the substitute teacher was at fault for.
What Actually Happened
I came back after being gone ONE DAY and my students told me the substitute teacher flipped over tables in a rage and was escorted from the building by a cop.
That's not what actually happened, but it's not far off.
Apparently the sub left the room to take a 20 min phone call and the kids thought it would be funny to flip the tables over.
The substitute then had to flip the tables right side up while yelling at the kids.
That's what they called "flipping tables in a rage."
So now let's talk about what actually actually happened after the table thing.
During lunch, my Special Ed. Co-teacher came into my room to set up and caught the sub MAKING OUT WITH A STUDENT.
She was 18 to his 25. That 20 min phone call he took earlier was to set up the lunch meeting.
The principal then had him removed from the building by the resource officer; so yeah he was escorted from the building by a cop.
This is why I say having a sub is more work than just coming into school my damn self.
Hell And The Holocaust
I'm the student in this case, but I'll still share the story because to this day I'm still fuming about it.
When I was in year nine history we were learning about the Holocaust. My teacher was out that day, and we had a sub who no one had ever met.
We all went into the classroom, sat down, and waited for him to say something. His first words to us, and I quote, were "The only thing humans have done that is worse than the Holocaust is the crucifixion of Christ."
Literally. No hello, no introduction, just that.
Now, in the class there were a lot of kids who were atheists, and a few from other religions. There were also three Jewish siblings whose great grandparents were murdered in a concentration camp.
People went absolutely wild, yelling at the sub of how insensitive that was when we had Jewish students whose own family were victims of the Holocaust.
The sub went bright red and started screaming that we were all going to hell and that we had sinned so terribly he couldn't bear to look at us. He left the room and that was the last we ever saw of him.
Guy left his lunch plate in my room.
There was half a chicken thigh and rice on my desk when I showed up. That's bad enough, but it's not the worst part. The worst part was that it was a Friday sub.
I showed up on Monday. It smelled so bad.
NKOTB Oh Nohangin tough new kids on the block GIFGiphy
I'm definitely late to the party that was last week, but I think this was a good one. I am a teacher, but was reminded of what I horrified by as a student.
This happened in the 4th grade. It was 1989 and The New Kids on the Block were performing for the school that sent in the most index cards with their school's name on it.
The Student Council was pushing for this every say for what seemed like a full year. It had gotten annoying. But those 8th graders gave their final plea over the PA system.
It was a Friday and out sub looked like she was having "a day."
Throughout the announcement, my Catholic grade school friends snickered, giggled and poked fun. Our substitute was visibly upset, "shush"ing kids, while talking to herself under her breath.
At the end of the announcement, we all erupted in a low "BOOO!" to which the substitute screamed at us: "EXCUSE ME! That is enough!"
She began to sob and cry, "How dare you do that to those people..."
Huh? We were more than a little confused.
"Put yourself in their shoes. What if you were a new person in a new city or town. Wouldn't you want people to be welcoming and loving when you arrived? How dare you laugh and make fun? and 'Boo' of all things! You should be ashamed of yourselves!"
Wiping her tears with crusty tissues from her pocket, she pointed to one of my classmates who raised her hand. "What, Meaghan?!"
The New Kids are a singing group.
Fuming Over Fumes
Oh my gosh. I totally forgot my best sub story until I read some of the others lol.
One day I was absent for district training. Most of my team was out, too. So there were several subs around. During first period, several of my students started complaining that a strong gasoline type smell was giving them a headache. It was really bad, and the substitute kept telling them she didn't smell anything. Same thing happened again the next period, but one of my students happened to be a principal's daughter. She texted her mom, who came to investigate. The smell was strong they smelled it in the hallway. They had to evacuate the entire 3600 student school while the fire department came to check it out. By the time they came, the smell in my room was gone.
However, several people still smelled the gasoline outside. The other substitutes were crowded together, and realized the smell was coming from MY SUBSTITUTE.
It was such a strange smell to be on a person that no one realized it was her. One of the principals asked her to go home and come back after lunch, after she had gotten rid of the smell (they didn't have any spare substitutes to cover my afternoon classes).
She came back...but this time she smelled like gasoline mixed with a bucket of perfume. She hadn't even changed clothes! It was so wild to hear that evening haha.
Mr. Retired Art Teacher
We have a retired art teacher who subs in our district, that pretty much ignores lesson plans and just does art all day. Long story short: I was recruited in November to take a class of 4th graders after their teacher just walked out of the classroom and quit.
I've got 13 days before parent/teacher conferences and I want my new classroom to look nice and welcoming for the kids and parents, so I spend the entire weekend decorating the classroom.
The following week I have to go to the district office for some training, paperwork etc. so I schedule a sub. Guess who I get?
Yep, Mr. Retired Art teacher - nobody had warned me about him at that point!
Not only does he ignore my lesson plan and do art all day, he takes down ALL of my decorations, kids work, required postings etc. and fills the walls with his "art." He took down everything I had just worked so hard doing.
Plus he throws my stuff in the garbage! That old man does not know how close he was to death when I saw what he did!!!
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