You’re A Badass Substitute, Girl

Once upon a time I was the queen of the high wire. I flipped and teetered above the crowd with unheralded confidence. I made them gasp with delight while making it all appear effortless. I glided through my carefully planned routines for years, until one day I got dizzy. The rope wasn’t what I knew anymore. It had changed, grown looser and more treacherous. I removed myself before I fell, splattering my practiced poise all over the audience. Knowing it was time to let younger, braver, and bolder performers take over the show, I quietly walked away from what I had been doing for years to pursue a new act. 

Lately, though, I have stepped back into the old circus, but only for a show or two. I no longer hang upside down, wowing the crowds. Now I periodically hold a spot while a star performer takes a bathroom break. No one remembers my name. I am like those seat holders at award shows. I’m just filling in until the main attraction returns.

This is the life of a substitute teacher. I am not required to develop lesson plans. I am not about to learn names. I don’t bring home piles of papers to grade. I can leave at the final bell. And most importantly, I am not required to be at school every day. 

After subbing a few select days this past month, here are my observations:

  1. It is good to be around kids…for a short time. It’s kind of like grand parenting. You can always send them home with their parents when they start to get cranky.
  2. I don’t want to have my own classroom anymore. It’s refreshing to glide in and out of different teachers’ rooms.
  3. I mainly get paid to read.
  4. I really really really love my days at home.
  5. I enjoy talking to former colleagues, but I realize I am not part of the the workings of the school anymore, and THAT IS OKAY.
  6. When I hear teachers complain, I listen and nod with understanding, and then move on. It is not my circus anymore. 
  7. I will always follow the teacher’s instructions for the day, but will gladly admit ignorance on certain subjects, especially math and science…and perhaps even physical education. ( I never could throw or kick or even toss a ball.)
  8. It’s kind of fun to be called Mrs. Sub Teacher. I like it.
  9. I can’t take the credit anymore, but I sure don’t miss taking the blame either.
  10. I am not there to change things, take over, or develop grand ideas. It is freeing to acknowledge this. I am a sub, not the queen.
 graphic courtesy of
graphic courtesy of

“I am not authorized to fire the substitute teacher.” – Bart Simpson

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