Tag Archives: high school

Tales from the Trenches: Conversations of a Substitute Teacher

I started working as a substitute teacher about six weeks ago. It’s been interesting, challenging, but especially hilarious. Here are some real-life conversations and humorous situations that have occurred.

The end of the day is approaching. I am very tired.
5 Year Old: I like to eat pizza sometimes.
Me (in a tired monotone): Fascinating.
5 YO:(suddenly enraged): No! NOT FASCINATING!!!!
Me: Whoa, whoa, sorry! No, not interesting in the least!

A student I know shown in the recent Deseret News article “More Utah students may get access to breakfast in the classroom.” Photo by Ravell Call. Check out the link to see other hilarious photos of kids in costume for Halloween.

Kindergarten teachers often supervise students during recess. I walked inside to check on a student supposedly getting a drink. She has fetched a gallon-size carton of rainbow goldfish crackers down from a cupboard and is eating them by the handful.
Me: What are you doing with those crackers?
Kindergartner: Our teacher lets us eat these when she’s not here!
Me: I doubt that, portly child. I doubt that a lot.

Some elementary schools get a healthy snack for lower-income kids in the afternoon.
Kindergartners: What are these?
Me: They’re pomegranate seeds. Try them! They’re really good. See, Aisha likes them.
Aisha: Yeah. I’ve had these before.
**Kids pick cautiously at pomegranate seeds for a minute or two. One kid decides they have had enough.**
Incite A Riot Child: Bleggggh! These are GROSS!
Every Other Child (besides Aisha): Eww! Gross! Disgusting! Bleggggh! Pbbththth!
**throw away virtually untouched pomegranate seeds into trash can while screaming**

Middle School
7th Grade Resource
7th Grader:  I don’t want to do homework. I just want to go home and sleep.
Me: So do I, kid, so do I.
7th Grader: What?
Me: What?
Me (muttering under breath): One day you’ll understand.

Me: Today we are learning about Neil Armstrong. He was an astronaut. Who here wants to be an astronaut?
1st Graders (raising hands): Me! Me! Mee!
Me: I also wanted to be an astronaut when I was little. Now I am a substitute teacher.
Observing Student Teacher:  **facepalms**

The following conversation is all in Spanish.
1st grader: You speak Spanish?
Me: No. I don’t speak understand any Spanish.
1st Grader: Oh. Wait—you’re speaking in Spanish right now.
Me: What? No, I’m not. How could I speak Spanish? I’m just a sub.
1st Grader: See?!? How did you learn that?
Me: I’m terribly sorry, I don’t understand a single thing you just said.


Worksheets won’t lay flat and sort of bend in half down the middle hot-dog ways because they were stored in a bag
5th grader: Hey, this paper won’t flatten out? What happened?
Me: You see, we were teaching the papers to do backflips before school and some of them forgot how to untuck, so now they’re stuck like that, folded all weird.Cool, right?
5th grader: Oh, okay.
**2 minutes pass**
5th grader (with a perplexed expression): Uh, teacher?
Me: Yes?
5th grader: Oh… um… never mind.

High School
Me: Hey, can you put your phone away please?
11th grader: Our teacher lets us have our phones out.
Me: Does. He. Really.
11th grader, sadly: No, not really.
**puts away phone**

10th grader: So, are you gonna be a sub your whole life?
Me: O_O

11th Grade Girl: So, are you married?
Me: O_O

Me: Guys, pay attention. This is the good part of the documentary, where people eat termites. Apparently they taste like a mixture of peanut butter and bone marrow, but who’s to say otherwise?
9th Grader: It’s true! I ate some in northern Ethiopia!
Me: Oohhkay then. I’m not jealous. Not at all.

At my old high school
12th graders: Our teacher told us to ask you about your six pack!
Me: She did not.
12th graders: She did.
Me, to trustworthy teen: Did she?
Trustworthy Teen: Yes, she did.
12th graders: Show us your abs!
Me: Ab-solutely not.

In the spirit of decorum I would like to clarify my six-pack was indeed public knowledge (due to swim team, a satirical “man pageant” and a shirtless poster of me placed at one point in a hallway… It’s a long story). But hey, I did have sweet abs.

Stats Break, because TMI
Days worked as a sub
: 12
Days that have felt like the first day at a new job: 12
Most likely to ask for a Band-Aid for any real or perceived malady: 1st Grade
Most likely to cry after they’ve pushed someone else over: Kindergarten
Number of children I’ve accidentally driven to tears: 3-4
Number of children I’ve made cry simply by walking in the classroom:1
Best at zoning out: High School
Most likely to livestream class: High School
Best philosophical conversations: Theory of Knowledge class in High School
Most likely to actually listen and participate: 4th Grade

More Kindergarten
Kindergarten lunch recess. I am conversing with a fellow twenty-something student aide.
Me: These kids are so crazy when they run out here from lunch.
Dhanya: Really. It’s like they’ve escapped from prison.
**2 minutes pass. A commotion is heard. A little girl has wrestled a boy to his stomach on the ground and has placed locking toy handcuffs around his wrists, a la Hawaii 5.0**
Dhanya, freeing hapless child: Sophie, we do not bring toys from home!

A few minutes after third coloring assignment of the day has been passed out.
Kindergartner: I can’t take all this coloring any more!
**slumps face-first onto desk**
Me: That’s the spirit.

I am shifting kids up and down on a chart that quantifies their behavior. Kids are reacting. A lot.
Me: It’s crazy that you kids are motivated by this completely arbitrary chart. I move it up, you get excited. I move it down, you cry.  It’s like you’ll do anything for peer validation.
**goes home and logs on Facebook**

Thanks for reading! Do you know a teacher? please give them a hug, some chocolate, and probably $50 because school supplies don’t buy themselves. Especially in Utah.

Still here? Check out that news article from earlier for great pictures, because I know most of those guys and they are hilarious. Except for you, Goldfish Cracker thief. You would weasel your way into a major news outlet.