Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Substitute Teachers

Is that a random enough title for you? =)

Yesterday as Xoe and I were doing our math lesson, Rowyn came in needing help with something. I asked Xoe to finish the exercise she was working on while I followed Rowyn out to see what he needed. I came back in two minutes later to a cackling almost-5-year-old who had worked ahead into today's lesson. What, you wonder, lured her so irresistibly? Addition. I laughingly related this to David last night, and his question was, "Did she do it right?" (Keeping in mind we're still in our first month of kindergarten.)

I was happy to report that she did indeed get them all right. Yes, this is still the addition that comes complete with hash marks to count, but still. She recognized that they were addition problems, saw how to fill them in herself, and correctly added them together. Not bad for a kid not even five!

Talking about it got my honey reminiscing about how he worked ahead in Algebra once when he had a substitute, who just laid out a few basics and said, "Go ahead!" To which I replied, "Mr. Twigg, right? I remember him giving a speech once about how English was good and necessary, but math--math was actually useful." LOL

Thoughts of good ol' Mr. Twigg had me thinking about the roles substitutes can play in the life of a school child (something my kids won't often have the pleasure of, mwa ha ha ha). I remember Mr. Twigg in particular. He was a full time sub, filling in somewhere in the county every day. We all loved him. He made us work, but he always put a different spin on things. Like letting us work ahead, telling us what he really thought about subjects . . . and showing us how to apply it to life in ways our regular teachers didn't do. Perhaps it was because he was from a different generation, who knows. Whatever the reason, I remember him as well as or better than I remember my regular teachers.

You know one of the best lessons he ever taught me in my 7th grade pre-algebra class? What makes a good handshake, and how a handshake helps make a good impression. No, that has nothing to do with math. But it has to do with life, and no one else ever bothered to teach us something as simple as "Don't let your hand be a dead fish, but don't squeeze the life out of the other person. Firm, but not hard. It shows strength and confidence." He had ever single student come up and shake his hand (would that even be allowed today??? LOL), and he critiqued us.

Maybe the lesson stuck because I could tell from his critiques that it really did show a person's character. And you can bet that every time I shake someone's hand, somewhere in the back of my mind I hear, "Don't let your hand be a dead fish, but don't squeeze the life out of the other person. Firm, but not hard."

Do you have any lessons you remember that came not from a regular teacher, but from a sub?


  1. Roseanna are you guys homeschooling? We have been thinking about it, but haven't done much "homework" on it yet. What a great story about Xoe and her excited interest in her new-found skills! :)

  2. Yep, we're homeschooling. Given that Xoe's birthday's the end of October, that was our only choice if we wanted to do kindergarten this year. Plus we'd always planned on it. =)

  3. Homeschooling is a JOB, but if you enjoy it and can instill a love of learning in her, plus saving her from a lot of negative influence that going to a public system could give her, she'll be blessed all her life.

    btw: we taught our boys to read before they ever went to school (either/both private & homeschool). To this day, they LOVE to read. :)
    What a lifesaver for us while we traveled.
    Thanks for the ntwked follower signup!

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