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Expectations

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Before you are permitted to make any disparaging remarks about teachers, you must first meet each of the expectations listed below:

You will be my substitute for the day. Just you. All day.

You must arrive at my classroom no later than 7:55 a.m. Children will be arriving at that time. Open the door and let them in. Make sure that they are getting their free breakfast as you also watch to make sure that they are getting ready for their first class of the day and not running around the room. At the same time, stand at the door and monitor the flow of students to other classes as they proceed through the hallway.

You may use my lesson plans if you like. Please be aware that the copier has been down for most of the week. Likewise, the Smart Board has had issues and the student laptops have been severely limited due to poor Wi-Fi. You may have to “monitor and adjust,” as we teachers like to say. At all times, however, you must adhere to the State Standards as stated and meticulously described within the three-inch binder next to my desk.

Please refrain from using your cellphone in class. Do not make doctor appointments or other arrangements during the school day. These must be scheduled for after school times.

Take attendance as soon as the bell rings. There are 27 seventh graders in my homeroom class. Five will, more than likely, be tardy and will interrupt your instruction. Calmly, inform them that they will need to get a late pass from the office.

One of my boys has Tourette’s Syndrome and will have sudden outbursts, many of which will include obscenities. Simply ignore these and continue working.

Another boy often tries to make himself throw up so that he can get out of work. Place the garbage can next to his desk.

Three girls belong to a gang and love to talk and throw signs across the room when they think the teacher is not looking. Remind them of your expectations and insist that they mind you.

Two of the boys and one of the girls are diagnosed with ADHD. The parents of each have yet to be able to afford medication. Insist that they “buckle down” and work.

Many of the children are deep within the throes of puberty and will, without notice, roll their eyes at you, talk back, and refuse to work. Please do not send them to the office. Simply remind them of your expectations, and everything should be just fine.

By the way, the teacher next door will be absent today as well. No sub was found for her class. Therefore, her classes will be split, and you will have an extra seven students each hour. Have them bring a chair from her class and line them up on the tile by the sink. If they don’t have work, you will need to come up with an assignment for them.

We have art class after second period. However, the art teacher is at a conference today, so your specials have been cancelled. Unfortunately, you will not be able to take a break. But you can take the kids outside for a quick recess if you would like.

It is supposed to be windy today. That always seems to do something to the kids. Just tell them to calm down when it is time to take them back to class. They should behave for you.

Be prepared for several interruptions after lunch. Many kids will need to get a drink or go to the restroom or go to the nurse or go to the counselor or go to the library. Just remind them of your expectations. They need to get to work.

The room is going to be hot. I’m sorry. There’s not much to do about that. With over thirty warm bodies in the room, the air conditioner can barely keep up. We cannot leave the door open to be safe. The windows do not open.

The telephone will ring at least ten times during the afternoon. Several children will be called to the office for behavior issues. Many more will be summoned as they have secretly texted their parents to pick them up early. Make sure you give them the homework they need.

We are supposed to have a practice lockdown drill this afternoon. Seventh graders are more than capable of following the procedures. Just remain calm and restate your expectations if necessary.

Because our school is in an area with a high crime rate, a real lockdown may be called at any time. See above…and pray.

Rain is expected around two. Kids love rain. Rain is fun. Watching rain from the classroom windows is exciting. Watch the little drops fall to the ground. Drip, drip, drip.

Usually during a storm, the power goes off. Don’t worry. Kids can work in the dark. Just remind them of your expectations.

You will need to cover my afternoon duty at the front of the school. Your responsibilities include moving the traffic through the lot, moving the kids down the sidewalk, and breaking up any fights that might be brewing. You must wear the bright green safety vest while you are out there. A little sunscreen and a hat might be a good idea as well. Perhaps it will still be raining.

Hurry back to the classroom as soon as you leave your duty post. Kids will be waiting for after-school tutoring. Teach them what they need to learn.

If possible, please answer any of the calls from parents that have been recorded on the classroom phone’s voicemail. Some parents may need a translator. Others may be angry at you and may need to be calmed down. Some may need both.

At 4:00 p.m., pack up the work you have assigned. You will need to grade it at home tonight and return it to me by tomorrow morning so that I can pick up where you left off. Don’t worry, it will only take about three hours of your “free time.”

If you have any comments about the teaching profession, feel free to call me in the morning.

Otherwise, repeat these words – slowly and sincerely:

“Thank you for all you do!”

Copyright, Tim Ramsey, 2018.

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Tim Ramsey has been an educator since 1983.  He taught middle school and high school for 15 years and served as a school administrator for 15 years before retiring in 2013.  He returned to the classroom where he now teaches writing to seventh graders by day and reading to college freshmen by night.  Tim is an avid writer and has been featured in six Chicken Soup for the Soul compilations.  In addition he has received several first place honors from the Arizona English Teachers Association for its annual “Teachers as Writers Contest.”

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Guest Saturday, 20 October 2018