Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Real Talk

Its a well known fact that, in general, substitutes don't command a whole lot of respect in the hallways. Students figure that they can venture pretty far over the line before the typical sub will expend the significant amount of time and energy it takes to get a student in trouble.

Pretty much everyday, I walk into the boys room and walk in on some group of boys smoking. Most of the time its a cigarette, occasionally its the other thing kids smoke in school bathrooms. In either case nothing usually comes of it. They put whatever they were smoking out, and I pee. At least they show me some deference by extinguishing their smokes.

With each day I spend at Gateway, kids get to know me better and show me a little more respect. Recently, during the passing periods, when I'm standing in the hallway and a student I have in class calls someone a motherfucker, they usually follow it with a sincere and appreciated 'Sorry, Mr. Awesome.'

That's why I was so astounded today when a student in my third period class was standing next to me during the passing period and said to a girl walking down the hall 'Hey Porsche, you should take your shirt off.' I was stunned. But Porsche was calm. She responded, 'why?'

His answer? 'So we can see your breasts.'

I guess I've still got a long way to go.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


My classroom was dark for most of the first two periods yesterday morning. Apparently UE was having some problems with the lines that ran to the school. The lack of fluorescent lighting combined with an overcast sky made for some very dark classrooms.

Weird stuff happens in a blackout. Even if only lasts for an hour and a half.

While the lights were out:

A student across the hall spontaneously puked all over Mr. Sheffield's floor without even trying to get out of her seat or make it toward the trash can.

A student in Ms. Winfred's class launched into an uncontrollable screaming fit that lasted for the better part of 5 minutes.

A student in one of the classrooms at the far end of the 4th floor hall passed out and had to be wheeled out by the EMT students on a wheeled medical cot.

Then the lights came on just in time for third period. The rest of the day was normal. As normal as any day can be in a Public High School.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Uniform

I've said it before, but a big part of being a substitute teacher is waking up early. As a sub in the St. Louis Public Schools its not uncommon for the Automated Substitute System to call as early as 5:30am. Since I have been working most of this year as a long term sub I haven't been subject to nearly as many 5:30am wake up calls. That being said, I have to be at school in my classroom by 7:05, so I'm not exactly sleeping in.

I can adjust to waking up early pretty well. But in order for me to be someone who is not, not a morning person, there are certain measures I have to take. First and foremost is that I go to bed early, its not uncommon for me to be in bed lights out at 9:30. I set my alarm to ring at the last possible minute and never snooze. Snoozing is dry-humping.

One reason that I can live a 10 minute drive away from school and set my alarm for for 6:45 is that I have a routine. NPR comes on at 6:45, I jump out of bed, go to the bathroom with the lights off, pee sitting down, flip on the lights, scrape my tongue, brush my teeth and get dressed, grab my backpack and walk out the door.

I never have to waste valuable sleeping minutes deciding what to wear because I wear the exact same thing to work everyday. This is my uniform: a white short sleeve business shirt, black Rustler brand jeans and black skate shoes with white laces. In the winter I add my blue winter coat.

After 3 years of subbing most days at Gateway, I think that pretty much every student and teacher has noticed that I wear the same clothes everyday. I imagine they find it amusing. One time I had a teacher down the hall wave me over to his doorway during the passing period. When I got to his doorway he told me that 'someday you've got to switch it up Mr. Lee, give the girls a new look.'

Today, during the passing period after lunch, I heard a couple of girls coming down the hallway. The one was saying to the other 'I'm gonna buy him a new outfit.' I told them that this was my uniform and and if they wanted spend some money on me, they could buy me new black jeans and a white short sleeve shirt. She said, 'I'm gonna buy you a black shirt... and white jeans, and white shoes with black laces.'

I really hope that she comes through on her promise. It would be the perfect outfit for opposite day.

p.s. The 'Snoozing is dry-humping' joke is a Jim Utz original.