Be careful what you wish for

Just a heads-up: this is a bit of a rant, prompted by frustration…

After spending months applying for teaching jobs and not getting hired for a full-time position, I was relieved to be offered a long-term subbing position in the district in which I student taught. I am teaching general and honors biology, and overall it’s a very good experience.

Some days, such as today, I wonder what I was thinking when I decided to go back into teaching. All of my classes have some challenging students, but second and fourth hours in particular. There is a student in my second hour who has told me several times how much she dislikes me. That doesn’t even bother me all that much: I am there to educate them, not be their best friend.

The attitude of some of the students is what floors me. They are disrespectful, both to me and to other students. There are a few that butt heads with me on a daily basis, and they refuse to accept that they are supposed to do what I tell them to do. It’s not like I’m telling them to translate their textbooks into Yiddish or something. Simple instructions, such as stop talking while I’m talking, don’t eat in class (which is a school rule, not just mine), and act like adults if you wish to be treated as such, are all scornfully dismissed with rolled eyes, sighs of contempt, and muttered comments.

I am thankful for the job, no doubt about it. At the same time, it is wearing me down. The students feel they don’t need to treat me with any respect, because I am just a sub. Just a sub who puts in 12-14 hour days planning, grading, and preparing. Just a sub for at least four weeks of their school year, who treats the class as her own, and takes the time to get to know the students, even though I am not there permanently. Just a teacher who wants to get it right, to reach the reluctant students, to make biology at least bearable, if not exactly enjoyable for most.

Can you hear the frustration in my words? I do my best to be a good teacher, but these students make me question myself on a daily basis. Tomorrow should be better. I hope.

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