I have mentioned before that I am a substitute teacher. We call our kind Guest Teachers in my district, but I still say sub. I am a fully credentialed History Teacher, but I have not yet landed a full-time gig. I am hoping that will happen before the next school year.
So, I sub for now, and it can be a rough gig, but it can also be very rewarding at times. Occasionally, I get a group of kids from a particular classroom who truly appreciates me for being a good sub; one who actually teaches rather than putting his feet up and letting the class do busy work all period long. We have fun, and we learn, and they end up liking me a lot.
Some of them show their appreciation by drawing pictures for me, or making cards—just a way to express how much they like having me there that day.
Some students take it a bit further and draw a portrait of me. These are my favorite little tokens of appreciation. I managed to save four of them by documenting them on the spot. I took a picture with my iPhone and saved them in my Pictures folder.
This first one came from last year when I was Student Teaching 7th– and 8th-grade History. The kids were rather rough on me at first, and I was not convinced that I would get out alive. One student in particular gave me the cold shoulder at first, and even called me a “square” (do kids actually say that still?). Eventually, she drew this…
Now, I cannot say that she drew this with the tenderest of intentions, but it eventually became a symbol of how much they liked having me in the class with them. I had been subbing for three years at this point; so I had already been through a lot, but these kids eventually took to me and gave me my first portrait, drawn on the white board, and kept there throughout my entire tenure there.
This next one came in similar fashion, just a couple months later at a different school. I was Student Teaching my second assignment, which was 10th– and 11th-grade History. Whereas my first assignment was tough, and I spent most of the time disciplining the students, this second job was much more difficult because my Master Teachers disowned me right from the start, and left all duties in my control. Plus, this second school was a high-achieving school with high expectations. I went from hardly teaching and mainly disciplining to teaching, creating lesson plans, grading, entering grades, meeting with students, meeting with parents, meeting with counselors, and so on, with little preparation and no support. I felt way in over my head at this school, at first.
Again, the students, while respectful, gave me the cold shoulder at first because they wanted my Master Teacher instead of me. She was kind of a Rock Star at the school, and everybody wanted her classes. Still, I managed to win them over, and one student in my Sophomores class drew this…
Again, I cannot say that this was not done in mockery at first, but it later became a symbol of their acceptance of me. I do not know why I am so buff, have bird legs, and am apparently punching an alien, but the portrait stayed on the white board for a few weeks
The next portrait came from a sub job last September. This was at my son’s school, and although he was not in the class, many of the students that he went to school with since Kindergarten were there. I love those kids. I have seen them grow up from little kids into big kids. Every time I go there, I am greeted with a rush of hugs, high-fives, and fist-bumps. I love it.
This portrait was drawn in a 7th-grade Math class.
I often tell students that I will give them 1,000 extra credit points if they can guess the country of origin for my last name, Marckx (it’s Belgium, by-the-way). Of course, I have no authority to issue any extra credit, but that is part of the joke. Once it was determined that I was part Belgian, a round of 20-Questions started, and we got way off task. I had to work hard to get them all back on task, and apparently, this student got bored having to do actual work. I love that she documented what time I sneezed.
Finally, a sixth-grade student whose class I frequent did this last portrait last week…
She and I talk a lot about the cartoon, Adventure Time, and one of our favorite characters is “Lemongrab.” You might need to watch this clip to get some context for the drawing.
I do not always say this in their classroom, but I should, since they are often quite “unacceptable!” The fact that she turned me into one of our favorite characters simply made my day. This can be a rough school, and I do not always like going there. However, I am good at my job, and I can handle the rougher students, so they constantly call me back.
This class in particular is one that I look forward to teaching. I wish they could all be like that!