I have the privilege of being a substitute teacher in our local elementary. I have, on occasion, worked in the middle school as well, but I LOVE to work at the elementary. I enjoy the children there, and our elementary is top notch.
Subbing can be a challenge... for the most part, students of all ages have one universal rule... if there is a sub, it must be a free day. What a shock they get when I enter the classroom. You see, I worked at the elementary for three years, the last of which was as the "full-time sub". Kind of strange, I know, but I spent every day in a different classroom, and was always there and available. Often times, I might have a class for up to a week at a time. I loved that job, and only left in order to take care of my granddaughter and great-nephew after their births. And while I loved being able to do that, I truly missed my job at the school. After the paper closed, I decided to go back to subbing as much as I could.
Days are pretty plentiful around the holidays as teachers take personal days in order to complete their shopping. I have worked pretty steady over the past three weeks (with the exception of my time off with the flu, received from a student in 1st grade!) I do my best to complete assignments for the teachers, grading what I can, and making sure that the students have a day that is as close to normal as possible. Because I try to do that, I am often requested by teachers, who are always happy to stay as close to their lesson plans as possible throughout the year.
Walking into a classroom can be a very eye opening experience. I can usually tell within the first few minutes which children have good home lives, and which ones are craving attention of any kind, even if it means they are acting out to get it. As I look at many of these children I wonder what their home lives must be like. Do they have enough to eat each day? Do their parents spend any quality time with them? (Or any time AT ALL, quality or not?) How many of these little ones go home to an empty house, unsupervised? How many have a warm bed? How many receive a hug? Or just a kind word? It can actually be very heart-wrenching at times.
Every day as we begin our day, the classes stand to recite the Pledge (and yes, we still say ONE NATION UNDER GOD! in our little town!) This is followed by a moment of silence... and I have found myself saying a little prayer for the day, and for these children. I have been asking God to let Jesus shine through me to these little ones. And you know, even with the flu running rampant through our school, I still find myself handing out hugs... followed by liberal amounts of hand sanitizer... but I am still handing them out. I am firm, and I demand their respect, but I am also ready and eager to praise a job well done. I love working with these children, and I truly believe that they can sense that. Even the classes who are considered by other subs to be "the worst" go well for me... and I know that the prayers that begin each day are the reason.
I know that I might not always have the opportunity to do this type of work, you never know when I might find a job elsewhere that is more permanent, but while I have the opportunity, I plan to make the most of it... and show these kids that not only do I care about them, but Jesus does as well! Does it get any better than that???