By Jane Bokun
I know I haven’t written for a while and that’s because I was out working jobs for you. It’s so you know where to go when retirement sneaks up on you and you spent your last dime on car insurance. Since I moved back to my hometown with an eye toward leaving, I have been trying to work in menial labor to see if it’s everything everyone has said.
Substitute teaching is truly awful. I would say, the awfullest, but that’s putting it mildly. So, first up, let’s try on the substitute teacher. It’s the best and by best I mean you get to sit down. I had always been taught to believe this was a cushy babysitting job for the elderly who had spent all their younger money. It would be perfect for the almost-dead.
I started substitute teaching at a local public school (I went private myself). The children talked throughout the teaching and I said nothing. They danced, jumped on each other and even air dropped movies and games on the wall. What did I say? Nothing. It was like watching a car accident, I really didn’t want to get involved. That went okay for a month and then they decided to make me a full-time substitute teacher when a real teacher had foot surgery. It was clear she didn’t want to come back and I really didn’t blame her. The classes were either too large or small and the teacher was remiss with lesson plans. She was on pain killers, she explained.
One of the things I was looking forward to was teaching journalism. I spent about 25 years in the field and I never thought it was a job. It was my chosen career and I thanked God everyday for it.
However, when I went to teach journalism, I found the children had been teaching themselves and they didn’t really want to have a record of it. They tweeted sports news every once in a while in case Don Lemon was listening. But they had no actual newspaper on their school site. They stood on desks and bounced on balls and screamed, but they had no real news and most importantly, no deadlines.
I wanted to teach them what a great career journalism could be if done right. They told me to sit down and shut up. Some people and some environments are unteachable, I thought. I kept trying although they seemed to need medication. I got it. They had been given too much freedom with no real direction. That is the problem with most things, but I would say public schools most of all.
One day I was called to the principles’ office to tell me there was a racist incident in my class. At the time, I thought it was a joke. Some kids were playing their own music when other kids told them they didn’t like their music. They wanted to hear K-pop. I, of course, didn’t say much. When does the babysitting kick in? I asked myself. I had already driven to the teacher’s house some miles away to take her and her son to the dentist.
When I got back to the classroom, an almost college sports star asked me, “is Miami a city?”
“I quit,” I said.