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Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:36 PM

So I was called in to sub late this morning at our local rural elementary school

I don't have a teaching degree, but I do have a B.A., which enables me to be a substitute at my local rural school (I also grew up with parents who were teachers, so I'm quite familiar with the profession and pedagogy). I've been subbing there, all grades, for a few years now, since we moved here for my husband's job.

The reason I was called in later in the morning was ostensibly due to there being a local funeral that several of the teachers wanted to attend. While this was true, it was obvious that many of them were trying to keep it together and hold it in, for the kids, whom they really treasured. I'm familiar with most of the grades by now, and the children in them (I also know many of them from our community, since it's a small town in a rural area; some I also know from my church). When I was in the classroom of the young children, I looked at them, sitting in their seats and ready to go, fresh-faced, happy from a fun weekend and enjoying reading the story they'd been in the middle of. I saw my own now-grown son, the way he looked when he was that age. I just stood there frozen for a few moments, watching and listening.

Some of the children had their work out and were diligently following along, others were squirming around, some were talking and laughing with each other. One came up to tattle on another kid who "wasn't doing his work right"; another complained about the little boy sitting near her who kept drumming his fingers on his desk, "boddering me." Two were sharing complaints with each other about their siblings at home, how "bossy" one was and how "annoying" another one was. Three were talking with each other about their favorite tv show and how they couldn't wait to see it again, wondering aloud what would happen next time. Another was talking about what she was gonna get for Christmas and how they decorated the tree this past Saturday and she got to put the angel on top of it.

Their artwork and A papers were proudly posted all over the walls in the room; a couple of them happily pointed out to me those that had been posted since the last time I'd subbed for them in Sept. I found myself taking note of all of the large cabinets and closets throughout the room, cabinets and closets that had, in other rooms in another elementary school seven states away to the east, had been used by heroic teachers to stash and stow and shield their students, among all of the piles of art and school supplies and books, before those teachers themselves actually faced yet another madman with guns, a few giving up their lives in the process. I found myself quickly thinking of what to do and how to do it should the unthinkable, but increasingly likely (unfortunately), suddenly happen here. How quickly could these fifteen children be hidden there and how to keep them calm?

Because, see, those are the first thoughts of the vast majority of teachers, including my parents before they retired. How to shield, protect and save their students. Putting the children first, not themselves. Even if it means directly confronting gunmen while keeping your kids safe and hidden, and even if it means being gunned down yourself while those same young children are waiting terrified inside the closets and cabinets, safe to live their lives because of your sacrifice. Showing far more courage in doing so than the cowardly, pandering politicians who cower and grovel before the gun lobby, the same politicians who've been gleefully slashing rights, benefits and salaries of teachers while trashing, bashing, demonizing and scapegoating them, deriding them as overpaid, incompetent, lazy, "public leeches", and inciting society to do the same.

The children were happy, innocently sitting at their desks and eager to go about their lives, looking forward to the movie they were going to see in another classroom this afternoon. Children who just wanted to be safe, happy and free. Children who had no idea that there were people out there, far too many people, people in charge and powerful, who were more concerned with the rights and money of gun owners and gun lobbyists, and furthering their own careers of power, than with their rights, and the rights of their families and fellow citizens, to be safe, to be able to do something as simple as GROW UP.

Children who had no idea that these people, who were, unfortunately, far too numerous, considered their lives and the lives of their families and fellow Americans, to be expendable and collateral damage, considered their lives to be a fair price to pay for their "freedom" to have their metal phallic symbols of destruction, as much as they wanted and whenever, however and wherever they wanted. Who actually believed that the answer to the violence plaguing their fellow children and citizens was MORE OF THE SAME instruments of violence and death.

I felt a tug on my sleeve and looked down. "Mrs. ___________. Can we take turns reading the story now? We like to do the different voices."

FUCK.

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Reply So I was called in to sub late this morning at our local rural elementary school (Original post)
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Dec 2012 #1
valerief Dec 2012 #2
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #3
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #5
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #6
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #9
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #20
Hekate Dec 2012 #34
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #38
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #39
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #4
valerief Dec 2012 #7
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #8
Carolina Dec 2012 #10
mainstreetonce Dec 2012 #12
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #16
mainstreetonce Dec 2012 #19
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #21
duffyduff Dec 2012 #31
murielm99 Dec 2012 #33
pitbullgirl1965 Dec 2012 #11
Starry Messenger Dec 2012 #13
OneGrassRoot Dec 2012 #14
Dustlawyer Dec 2012 #15
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #17
heaven05 Dec 2012 #18
kmlisle Dec 2012 #22
shenmue Dec 2012 #23
tavalon Dec 2012 #26
iemitsu Dec 2012 #29
tavalon Dec 2012 #40
duffyduff Dec 2012 #32
Diclotican Dec 2012 #24
tavalon Dec 2012 #25
Surya Gayatri Dec 2012 #27
liberalhistorian Dec 2012 #28
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #30
Hekate Dec 2012 #35
Fumesucker Dec 2012 #36
Spazito Dec 2012 #37

Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:38 PM

1. Beautifully said...

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:40 PM

2. The only overpaid, incompetent, lazy, "public leeches" I know of are those we call legislators. nt

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Response to valerief (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:44 PM

3. 98% of them & appointed positions, about 80% of the administrators, and about 40% of the rest. n/t

 

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:52 PM

5. 80% of the administrators and

forty percent of the rest of what?

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:08 PM

6. Government employees. I spent many years working with almost every level and all

 

of the major federal agencies, It might not be 40% it might be 30%, but I'm also just as sure that the percentages are similar outside of government.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:21 PM

9. Well, that certainly isn't true

of teachers, I assure you.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:40 PM

20. In regard to teachers I have only my own experience to draw upon, but that experience

 

is contrary to that assertion. I have worked for 3 school districts on a professional level, but not the teachers.

K-12 (we moved often, so I had a lot of different teachers) and 6+ years post-secondary, I've had three exceptionally good ones and more than 20 terrible ones ranging from merely incompetent to horribly abusive, with the rest falling into the OK category. Of course, that was my experience and it was long ago, but see no evidence in the results achieved since that time that makes me think it is gotten any better.

Edited to add: I'm completely on the side of the teachers in the current program to destroy our public education system. I didn't want to give the impression that I favor what has been going on this last 14 years or so.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #20)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 01:32 PM

34. I'm sorry for your experience, but that wasn't the point of this powerful essay

I, too, have worked with "government employees" as an employee the county level and at the non-academic staff level at the local university. I come from a long line of school teachers, and my husband taught at community college.

There's some deadwood wherever you find human beings working. My experience has been that the vast majority of "government workers" are just people trying to do their chosen job, whether it is filling in potholes, guarding your streets, or teaching your children. Demonizing them demoralizes them and makes it easier for other people to treat them callously but does nothing to help.

You tar with too broad a brush (30% - 40% - 98%), and that's not really egalitarian, just ... kind of thuggish.

Let's get back to liberalhistorian, okay?

Hekate

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Response to Hekate (Reply #34)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 08:56 PM

38. Thank you, I was going to make

similar points, but was afraid I'd let my irritation at this poster for starting shit against teachers when he obviously doesn't know shit about it get ahead of me. The last thing I wanted was for this to get bogged down in another "defense of teachers" discussion, but too many people, unfortunately, feel perfectly free to stick their noses in it and display their ignorance just because they had a few bad teachers at one time.

And I just read the story of the dying six-year-old whose dying teacher held him in her arms as they both died together, as well as the stories of the other teachers who sacrificed their lives protecting their students and am almost rendered speechless. There's much I could post about it, but I'm simply unable to do so at this point. Except to say to the teacher bashers to just go away from this thread and stay away, please.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #38)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 09:47 AM

39. Apologies. Responded to the comment about legislators, didn't consider the context of your post.

 

We'll talk later.

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Response to valerief (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:51 PM

4. Indeed. But, to them,

they are the greatest thing since Mama's homemade apple pie, and they are only "doing what's best for the future" or some such bovine waste product. Most have no clue at all about education and have never stood before a classroom at all. And my favorite are those who rail against taxes, spending, government, etc., yet, when you ask them how they think they get paid and where their very generous benefits come from, they simply give a blank stare.

In our own state, they passed a horrendous education "reform" bill during our two-month legislative session last winter (thank God they're only in session for two months per year. They do enough damage during that time, God knows what they'd do year-round), that really slammed it to teachers and, I believe, was the opening salvo in attempting to go for more privatization. Oh, but it was done in the guise of "helping" teachers and schools. PFFFFTTTT.

Fortunately, enough signatures were gathered to put it on the fall ballot as a referendum, and it was not only defeated, it was RESOUNDINGLY smashed. It had been written by the governor and his minions with NO input from either teachers OR the public at all. They weren't interested in any feedback, they were going do what they wanted to do regardless of what the little people thought or what those who were actually in the trenches of the profession thought. They were a bit chastened by the defeat, but are now attempting to bring it back yet again this coming legislative session. Sigh. The fight against these people seems to NEVER end, and they NEVER get it.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:18 PM

7. I don't claim to know anything about teachers, except that my mother worked for

years as a secretary in several public city schools, and she knew how hard the teachers worked, how rough some of the kids' lives were, and the further up the food chain you went, the less it had to do with education.

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Response to valerief (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:21 PM

8. That's definitely true that teachers really are the

front-line soldiers and that the further up you go, the less true that is. Unfortunately, the very people who are in the trenches every day are the ones listened to and respected the least.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:38 PM

10. WOW!

beautiful and sad at the same time.

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Response to Carolina (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:51 PM

12. So many things

could be discussed about substitutes.

I give all the credit in the world to this teacher, but think about substitutes. Are they trained in the safety drills? Some don't even know the children by name.

If you think teachers are poorly paid,ask a sub what they get per day with no benefits.

Do only good caring people take these jobs? Truthfully sometimes they are filled by anyone who can't find other work.

When we talk about school safety,the sub problem is another troubling chapter.



In no way is this post meant to criticize the good person who started the thread.
It just brought up a lot more questions.

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Response to mainstreetonce (Reply #12)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:19 PM

16. Oh, I don't think it's critical at all, I think

you make a very valid point that is worth some strong consideration. Generally, schools don't just take anyone as a sub, you need to at least have a degree. And many do require orientation sessions where they review things like safety drills and procedures, etc. But many also don't do that and, if you're a sub for a district that encompasses numerous schools (unlike my rural one, where just one large school holds all twelve grades, plus a preschool for three and four-year-olds), you may only get such orientation for one or two of the schools and not know the specifics for the others.

You may, indeed, care (or not, as you pointed out), but not know the procedures or many of the students. I know many of the students from all of the grades because it's a small town and I've subbed there for three years now. But that's not always the case.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Reply #16)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:34 PM

19. Schools get into situations

where subs are in short supply and take anyone they can find. Sometimes even people without degrees.

City schools hire whoever they can get.

I have seen subs who don't speak English in a room with children who only speak English.

I could tell you horror stories, but I don't want to insult the good people who do take the very important job.

Many districts use agencies and the school system doesn't control who gets the assignments.


I will say, if you have children or grandchildren in school.check on the policies regarding subs.

They all get left alone with your children.

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Response to mainstreetonce (Reply #19)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:40 PM

21. Again, you make some valid points and I don't

doubt your knowledge. I think in a lot of ways it depends on the area and the district.

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Response to mainstreetonce (Reply #19)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:50 PM

31. Substitute teaching pools have been traditionally a hiring pool

for regular teachers. The vast majority of subs are certified teachers trying to get a regular gig or are retired teachers.

Many will sub for many years just to get their feet in the door.

It is virtually impossible unless you are a relative of a current employee to break into the system otherwise. Even if you have been laid off or wrongly canned from another school district, you have to start all over again by substituting.

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Response to mainstreetonce (Reply #12)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 01:27 PM

33. Bullshit, dearie.

I am a sub. I had to pass all the same background checks as the regular teachers. I had to be fingerprinted at my own expense. I had to sign the mandated reporter forms, too.

I work in three or four district around my home town. I know many of the students and their families. I see the kids on the streets and we talk. I have done this for twelve years.

I have a teaching degree and a master's degree. I chose to work at something else for many years before subbing, but I kept up my credentials.

I know many substitute teachers who have retired from the classroom, or from other professions.

As far as subs being people who can't find other work, you would be surprised how many professional people are subbing because they cannot get jobs in their field for other reasons. No one wants to pay them what they are worth! I know a pharmacist who is now working on a teaching credential because he likes teaching more. I know a research biologist who got sick of the politics in her chosen field, and decided to teach. There are other examples.

We subs are having a hard time right now, too. I turned down a first grade job the other day. I took middle school instead. I am not ready to interact with a group of innocent six and seven year olds right now. I would have a hard time not crying.

As far as safety, there are sub manuals. Teachers leave the safety procedures out in plain sight for their subs. The principals come around and check on subs. And the students are eager to correct the subs and show them the "right" way to do everything in the classroom.

I like subbing. If I don't get my kid fix once in awhile, I am not happy. And I am not the only sub who feels this way.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:43 PM

11. Your post was a tearjerker

and I don't usually get gooey over stories about kids. And how teachers are treated in this country is disgraceful.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:59 PM

14. Thank you so much. A most heartfelt K&R! n/t

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:03 PM

15. It would be great to start a thread with all of the Repugs who said all of the negative things about

teachers in the last year starting with Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Rick Scott and a host of others. I do not know how to, but I do know someone here would do it.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Reply #15)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:22 PM

17. Indeed, I'd like to see that also. And how many of us

can really see the likes of macho gun-ho (I just made that term up the other day) "tough guys" like Walker, Scott, Christie, et al., who are oh-so-tough on those awful, greedy teachers, police and fire officers, etc., stand up against real gunmen and give their lives the way these teachers and principal did? Anyone, anyone? Bueller, Bueller?

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:29 PM

18. beautiful

and eloquent.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:49 PM

22. Well written, eloquent and so true!

I just retired from 20 years full time teaching and another 5 years before that part time as a sub and long term sub. I was just thinking the other day about my big closet at school and how I kind of obsessed on where to place the kids so they were not in front of doors because the walls were concrete block and would better deflect any bullets. I also worried about light coming under the door if we left them on and since I taught Middle school keeping all the girls on one side and all the boys on the other. Also hoping that the more dramatic of my students would hold it together enough to stay quiet. Literally thinking the unthinkable like every teacher does today. we did some drills and sat in the dark several times. Our local High School was put on lock down and they sent in a swat team which was a scary because they come in in body armor with big weapons. We showed that video to our younger kids to prepare them for the unthinkable. That's what schools all over the country are doing today.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:53 PM

23. I'm thinking of going back to finish my teaching license

Now I have to admit I'm kind of freaked out.

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Response to shenmue (Reply #23)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 04:46 AM

26. As horrific as this was

Remember, it is very rare. Not nearly rare enough, but the likelihood of you facing this situation are greater walking down a metropolitan street than in a classroom. I hope one day this will be something that is just unheard of.

As a nurse, I am far likelier to face a dangerous person and yet, I wouldn't give up nursing for anything - 23 years and counting.

If it is your dream, do not let this killer kill your dreams as well as the people he actually killed.

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Response to tavalon (Reply #26)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 09:11 AM

29. A rare situation indeed but not so rare that this

teacher has not been present when a student was shot, and killed, at my school.
Those who try to categorize teachers into good, bad, and ugly need to remember that all of these teachers are important and valuable members of the community.
The recent attacks on teachers may make it seem legitimate, or perhaps require us to root out, some bad teachers.
Every teacher is unique, as are all students, and even if a given teacher does not match your learning style he/she probably does meet the needs of some other students.
The expectation that teachers be all things for all students is not reasonable. It is another ploy to justify privatization.
It takes a village.

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Response to iemitsu (Reply #29)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 02:08 AM

40. I agree with all you say, especially the last line

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Response to shenmue (Reply #23)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:52 PM

32. Save yourself the trouble

It's not worth it. If it isn't your life that is at risk, it's your career every single day thanks to the many sociopaths who run individual schools and school districts.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 06:11 PM

24. liberalhistorian

liberalhistorian

Thank you for being a teacher who also CARE for them who are in the school rom.. You are the type of teacher who they might remember 40 or 50 year down the road - as a great teacher who cared for them.. Even if they do not know your name longer, they will remember you...

And you point it out so good as anyone can do it - about children, their innocence - and the madness of grown ups...

I have no children (or at least as of now). But even I was shocked by what happened just a few days back when so many totally innocent youngsters was killed by a gun man... I have never understood the issue with weapon in the US, and I am more than ever convinced about the concept of having as few weapons in the society as posible... I would have been devastated to my core if I have had a children, who had been harmed, or killed by a madman like him.. I do know about how I would have reacted - but I doubt it would have been any other way than other parents who discover their children are in danger

Diclotican

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 04:43 AM

25. That was beautiful

Thank you.

I'm a nurse in a NICU and I would shield any of my babies. I've only had to deal with that once and it was de-escalated without anyone getting hurt.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 05:36 AM

27. Poignant and pertinent...bless the teachers and

screw the craven politicians.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #27)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 08:52 AM

28. Yes, that just

about sums it up!

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:39 PM

30. One of my kids asked me yesterday if I had heard about what happened in CT

I said yes and he looked at me and said "26" and shooked his head and walked away.

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 01:34 PM

35. Powerful and poignant


Thank you so much for writing this. Wish I could do more.

Hekate

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 01:41 PM

36. I have three grandkids in public schools, thank you for what you do and for caring n/t

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Response to liberalhistorian (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 01:44 PM

37. Very powerful OP...

Both moving and incredibly sad. Thank you for posting this.

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