Once upon a time
I got a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and was employed as both an Infant/Toddler Classroom teacher and as a Preschool Teacher. I have always loved people, especially tiny people, and learning about their development and how to support their development was a natural turn for me. I developed many close bonds with many different kiddos, after all, I spent 8 hours a day with them 5 days a week. I knew which baby needed to be rocked a little extra, which one needed her binky, which toddler loved to have his face tickled, and who really needed to be sung to during a diaper change. I knew which little guy was having a hard time adjusting to a new place and needed to be tucked under my wing and be my little shadow for a few weeks. I knew which little girly would be my copy cat, naming her imaginary boyfriend Jicheal when I mentioned my husband was named Micheal. I knew which little squirt would challenge the "Where is tall man?" verse of that childhood song during circle time. I knew who needed a little extra help learning the open-close-open-close rhythm of cutting. I knew them well. I loved them well. And, they loved me back.
But here is the thing, though I was a major caregiver in their lives, I was never a substitute for their parents. So parents, trust your teachers, know they love your children and know your children, but also don't worry that they are ever at risk of taking your place. Even if they do call their teacher, "Mom." (Ahem. It does sting a bit when that happens on the mom end.)
Now upon a time
Both my daughters are in school full-time, so last year I started substitute teaching in our district, only at our preschool and my daughters' elementary school. I learned through our district that there is a substitute shortage, not just locally, but nationwide. And, having subbed more than a few times, it isn't really surprising. Subbing is hard work and affirms my belief that teachers are not valued enough in our society, nor payed enough. Amen?
But, at least teachers are better equipped than I at classroom management for the older kiddos, super well-versed in curriculum implementation, and more at home in their own classrooms (obvi). Subs are just doing their best to figure out plans and schedules and lists and policies and forms and systems, while getting totally played by the students. Add to that the lack of consistent or full-time work (which for me is actually perfect) and it totally makes sense there is a shortage, right?
So, I am glad to do my part, and teachers are great about letting me know they appreciate me. And, I have noticed a similarity to my early childhood teaching days. In the same way that I would not, could not ever be a substitute for a child's parent then, I am not, cannot be a true substitute for a child's regular teacher. I can be a fun novelty, I can do a good job, I can maintain order and administer assignments, but I can never know the children like their teacher.
What follows is a true doodle from a recent sub job, completed in between monitoring the room and answering questions about the assignments.
Thanks, teachers, for doing amazing, tough work that benefits all of society!