I have crossed over to the other side…substitute teaching at a high school. Mind you, this is not your ordinary high school. Before I tell you my experiences there, let me tell you that any references or examples I use to describe the school is done in kindness. I say this because when I was telling my husband about it yesterday, he accused me of making fun of the students. That is not my intention, it’s just that there were some kids that stood out to me more because of some previous experience or recollection. (Yes Frank, I just told my blog followers that you were being mean to me. :p So you better behave.)
I know I am going to be showing my age in some of my references, but that is okay. To those younger readers that never experienced the 70’s or 80’s, I’m sorry, but they were some great times. And to those of you that are my age or older, I hope this post will give you a walk down memory lane.
Like I said, it was not your ordinary high school. It is a public school, I believe they call it a magnet school, that specializes in Arts and Sciences. Imagine the school on the show ‘Fame’, but take out all the dancing. There might have been dancing, but it wasn’t in my area. I was the substitute teacher for Jazz Band, which meant I sat in class and listened to a lot of loud music.
When I say loud, I don’t mean ‘bad’ music, I mean that the speakers were turned up so high and the room was so small that you could feel the music vibrating on the desk. Also, this was not your basic music, it was J.B. Rides Again and other jazzy tunes. Some of it was just the kids jamming together, making it up as they went along.
I was totally honest with the kids and told them that I was not a music teacher and had no way of helping them with their instruments. But I could listen to them play and appreciate the good music they were making. Since they were happy to be there and much more mature than my normal students, things went smoothly. But I won’t lie, I had a few moments of doubt that day.
I am ashamed to say that while I was there, I had to break down some stereotypes that I had created in my mind. I was expecting to meet a lot of thugs that day, but instead, I met a lot of mature teenage students that were not trying to play a fast one on an old woman like me. There was always one student, normally a boy, who took on the role as leader in the class. They sort of filled in for the teacher as far as directing went.
However, there were a few things that stood out from the previous schools I have taught at. It was a public school, not a catholic school. So no uniforms, lots of colored hair, extra body piercings and a good number of boys with long hair that was not in a ponytail. It was definitely a whole new world.
The classes I had did not consist of all one school grade. I had a variety of 9th – 12th grade students in every class. Some of the students made an impact and in my mind I have dubbed them as certain celebrities that I have seen on TV. For instance, there was a boy in one of my classes that reminded me of Josh from the TV show ‘Drake and Josh’. He was a sweet and happy boy who just happened to be in Speech and Debate club, so he was trying to sell me some popcorn for a fundraiser. When I told him that I might not be back to get the popcorn, he promised me in a very good salesmanship manner that he could have the popcorn mailed to my address. Or he would even deliver it personally to my house. LOL
I would have loved to help him out, but I didn’t have any money to buy popcorn. Besides, in the middle of his sales pitch, his classmate (a beautiful Asian girl who chose to wear black lipstick that matched her long hair) decided to get in on the action. So she grabbed the flyer out of his hands and was up in my face (in a comical way) asking me to buy from her instead. I declined them both, but told the boy that he must have really been paying attention in his Speech and Debate classes, because he was a smooth talker. I then had to explain to the girl in a comical way that she was sort of scaring me and that she was tipping more toward the stalker side and less on the salesperson side.
Then there was the boy that could have walked right into a Flock of Seagulls concert and been lost with all the other fans. If you are like me, you probably don’t know who the Flock of Seagulls are. But you probably saw the “Friends” episode when they flash back to Ross and Chandler’s college days. There was an episode where they came home for Thanksgiving to Ross’ parent’s house and Chandler’s hair was swooped over and really flat on top. (Now that I think about it, Donald Trump has a similar hairdo. lol) Anyway, the boy in my class reminded me of Chandler instantly.
Then I had a boy that came up to me at the beginning of class. He introduced himself and as I was telling him my name, he shook my hand. Very odd in an environment like that. But that wasn’t the only thing that got my attention. No, the boy’s hair was my main focus. This boy, which was just a bit shorter than me, had the biggest bush of brown curly hair on his head. I think that if he got his hair buzzed, he would probably be a half a foot shorter. If he dyed his hair red, he could pass for the comedian Carrot Top. No lie!!!
Then there were a number of boys with the long, long hair and some of them also sporting a mustache and beard. (Or a boy’s version of one) Which sort of makes sense, since they were musicians. Think about all the rock bands where the guys sport long hair. Of course, none of them had the good-looking hair that Harry Styles has. 🙂 There were more boys than there were girls in my classes and the girls all seemed to be your typical looking high school girls. However, I did see a girl walking down the hall at the end of the day that had long purple hair. If the girl was dressed in a black outfit, she could have passed for Mal off of the new Disney movie Descendants.
I really enjoyed my teaching experience that day. Yes, it’s true that I was afraid to use the Girls Restroom for several reasons. First, I didn’t want to see or hear something that I wasn’t meant to. Second, I didn’t want them to think I was checking up on them. Third, I have seen too many movies and I was afraid I might get knifed or something. So I sought out the Teacher’s Lounge and found a restroom in there to use. So, would I go back if they ask me to? Sure, I’m willing to take the challenge again. Am I ready to venture into a more standard city high school as a substitute teacher? Not yet. But eventually I might be. I have decided that if I can handle this sort of high school environment, I might be able to handle a Catholic high school. So that might be my next step.