Tag Archives: substitute teacher

Percentage Whores

30 Jul

People who create 20% of the results will begin believing they deserve 80% of the rewards. — Pat Riley

Amen brother.

English: From the left: Shaquille O'Neal, Pat ...

English: From the left: Shaquille O’Neal, Pat Riley and Micky Arison at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is something that I constantly come across. At one point this statistic had me going to anger management because it proved to be true so many times and in every facet of my life back then. It didn’t help that I was a substitute teacher either. I wasn’t flying off the handle and attacking clerks in public. But I did have anger permeating throughout my body so much that I thought it was best to deal with it before I had a heart attack and imploded.

These people exist. Percentage whores.

Many of them exist in office spaces, family dynamics, social settings, and school environments. I’ve encountered them in every space, but nothing more so than the school environment as a student and a teacher.

As a substitute teacher I got a lot of information that I wasn’t supposed to receive. Most people write you off, because they think they’re never going to see you again. You’re a sub and they don’t. But in my case, with all these special assignments thrown my way I quickly learned who these percentage whores were, some of them even up in the ranks of Vice Principal. You know … walkie-talkie people.

These are some of the biggest percentage whores, walking around the campus all with their secret 10-4 and copy that codes.

But what do you do when you encounter a percentage whore? A teacher or an administrator that walks around claiming 80 percent when you know they’re at the 20 percent mark, what do you do with that information?

Do you confront them?

No. Most of the time if they don’t interfere with you or your business, you let them be. But once they cross you or make you pick up the slack for their so-called  impressive work ethic you bust out some Soprano-like tactics and make sure they know you and that you really know them. It’s the only way to release your anger in a constructive format.

As a substitute teacher for middle school you get a conference period, an hour to relax and take a breather. Gather your thoughts and maybe wish you’d brought some chocolate with you. However sometimes you get pulled from this haven to cover a class. In the district where I worked, full-time teachers got paid to do this, subs did not.

Now I wouldn’t mind taking a random hit every now and then, but when I found out this one was deliberate, I sort of lost it. Confrontation ensued.

I left a note. I stated what a disaster the experience of covering this class had been.

Teacher X,

For someone who constantly screamed professionalism and appeared to be the “poster child” for it you suck at it. You’re not the success you claim to be, you’re a mirage and you suck at your job. Your students are a reflection of the kind of teacher you are and it’s no wonder that school’s are fudging their stats. People like you exist. They have to hide you. Don’t ever call me to cover your class. There was nothing great about it. There were no textbooks, no notebooks, no worksheets, no lesson plans. Just your coffee mug on a messy desk. If it weren’t for my creative mind, there probably would not have been class. Do not convince the office that my time is not as valuable as yours. I know you were not at a parent conference. The parent did not show. If you needed another hour break in addition to your conference period, you should have just stayed home. Please don’t manipulate the office into having me cover for you again. Don’t call me to cover your class at all

The next morning I ran into the teacher. The teacher was making announcements on the loud speaker at school, full of school spirit, and posing with their best percentage whore personality.

The teacher, who was with two other co-workers approached me.

“Are you the teacher that covered my class yesterday? Did you leave that note?”

“Yeah. I did. And I meant it. You should be embarrassed. Don’t call me again.”


I walked out.

The You-Need-To-Care Moment

18 Apr

Some jobs make you want to drink. Others make you want to jump off a cliff. This one made me want to do both.

Middle School Substitute Teacher. It’s the worst job I’ve ever had. It was supposed to be one of those transition jobs, but it never ended. I met all kinds on this gig. But most of my time was spent with hostile teenagers who constantly used profanity and avoided classwork and homework at all costs. They mastered the eye-roll and the smacking of the lips, most of the time accompanied with sarcasm.

I often wondered, what’s up with your parents? Do they even care? I got the response when I met Crystal’s mom.

Crystal was a piece of work. I often filled in for this teacher and most of her classes were filled with tough kids here and there. And most of the time I got comments like, how come you never smile? I was pretty much all business when I was in classroom. I wasn’t the I’m-your-friend kind of teacher. I didn’t need 13-year old friends, especially someone of Crystal’s caliber.

Social Studies classroom at Port Charlotte Hig...

Classroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During our reading comprehension part of the class, Crystal made it a point not to comprehend. I used to give kids three chances — three check marks next to their names — three opportunities to correct themselves before handing out detention, campus beautification, dean’s office referrals, or parent communication. They knew it. They were well-informed. Most kids stopped acting up after the first check mark and campus beautification. They hated cleaning up other kids’ trash. But Crystal was different.

As I explained the assignment for the third time, to make sure every one understood, I see Crystal smacking her gum, like a cow chewing grass. What’s up with kids and gum? I wasn’t a fan of gum, neither was her regular teacher. She knew it. The whole class knew it. So I didn’t understand why she was confused about the rule.

After giving me attitude and a sassy remark, she spit it out. Then came the I’m-not-going-to-do-the-stupid-assignment attitude.

After telling her to start the assignment for the fifth time, I switched her seat so that she wouldn’t distract others. She continued her lackluster effort of paying attention and decided to listen to music.

I took her headphones away and said she could have them back when she finished.

“I don’t care, keep them. I have another pair.”

“Don’t use them here, or I’ll take them away and give you campus beautification.”

“I don’t care, give me campus beautification.”

“I don’t understand, if you don’t want to do the work, don’t come to school. If you want to listen to music stay at home. Just don’t come to school then, because I expect you to do the work. If you don’t do the work you’ll get campus beautification. You’re not just going to sit there and absorb electricity.”

“I don’t care.”

“Oh. You don’t care, do you? That’s one check.”

“I don’t care.”

“Fine you have campus beautification for two days.”

“So what. It’s not like I’m gonna do it.”

“If you don’t do your punishment, you’ll get after-school detention two days.”

“I don’t care.”

“I don’t like your attitude, or your disrespect. That’s two checks for you. If you choose not to do your work or your punishments, there will be consequences.”

“I don’t care. I don’t care about your !#*&@^! consequences or your stupid check marks.”

The class is silent. Waiting on me and my reaction. I was so irritated by this kid. I was done.

“You know what, I’m not even gonna bother sending you to the Dean’s Office. I’m just gonna call your parents myself.”

“I don’t care go ahead.”

Calling parents usually got some kids to shut up and do their work. Some parents actually did some parenting and consequences were involved. Others, well … they needed some assistance. Some sort of intervention miracle.

I don’t know what kind of parents Crystal had, but I was hoping to find out. I wondered if they tolerated Crystal’s eye-roll, the flicking of her fingernails with the other fingernail, and the smacking of the lips, followed by the ever so famous teenager exasperated sigh.

After another thirty minutes of her attitude the bell rang. She collected her books and waited. Most kids tend to bolt as soon as the bell rings, so I often made it a point to hang on to their backpacks until I make the phone call.

I dial the number on file. Disconnected. I dial the emergency contact. The number is no longer in service. She smiles.

I pick up her backpack and have her follow me to the attendance office. There has to be someone, some adult, some relative that can scare her straight. She’s strutting down the hall without a care in the world. All I can think of  was I’m never going to reach anybody related to her, and it’s too early to be pissed off because of some bratty kid. But there I was, frustrated and irritated by a disrespectful sixth grader. Yeah she was in the sixth grade.

As I walk into the attendance office with miserable hopes of getting anything resolved, I run into her mother.

Duuuuuuuuuuuude. Sweet.

I smile and look at the mom.

“I was just on my way here to get your number. Apparently Crystal does not know how to reach you. So we had to make a trip over to the attendance office.”

“I was just here to pick her up early.”

“Well, I’m glad I caught you then. I wanted to speak with you about Crystal’s disrespectful attitude and defiance …”

I explained the events as they occurred and mentioned my three-checks system and the opportunities I gave Crystal to correct her behavior. I looked at the mom:

“All she kept saying was that she didn’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. When I told her I was going to call you, she said I don’t care.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the mother raised her hand and … SLAP!!!


All I saw was Crystal’s hair flying wildly to the left as her head turned.

The entire attendance office staff was silent. The students sitting in the waiting area froze. The parents picking up their kids mouthed the word “Ooooooh.”

 Crystal definitely cared the next day.

How Country Music Snuck Up on Me

17 Jan

Ever wake up wretched…thinking I need a damn miracle today? That’s how I used to feel every day while working as a substitute middle school teacher years ago. I know what you’re thinking…why didn’t you just slit your wrists? Yeah I know. But bills were bills and there were no writing gigs. So there I was classroom after classroom of pimples and raging hormones.

Feeling like jumping off a cliff everyday at three o’clock. Then while I was driving home, I turned the radio dial and found Allan Jackson with Jimmy Buffett  and thought damn…it is five o’clock somewhere. Giddy up!

 I don’t know how it happened but after that I’d become a country music fan. Growing up in the inner city you don’t really hear Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Allan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Reba, Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks or Alabama…it’s more Sonora Dynamita, Fito Olivares, El Buki, Bronco, and songs like “I’m Your Puppet,” “Supersonic,” or “Rapper’s Delight” that blasted the boombox. I wasn’t aware of something called country music until college, but I thought that belonged to the Texas Longhorns, hillbillies, or people living in Nashville. I didn’t want hear songs about dogs or tractors by someone with a twang…and now I wish I had a deep twang. Ohh Josh Turner. Ohh.

I probably could have used country music all my life, including, relationships. These chicks are badass and the guys aren’t bad to look at either. They got lungs and the twang. But what drew me in were the stories. They had their happy songs but the ones with guts hit the spot…talking about failure and surviving it. I thought damn! These are my people, even if they do drink whiskey. They might not use a lot humor in their songs, but they got a little sass and adventure, and that always makes me laugh.

I knew I was a fan when I started raising the volume and little by little the dial went up from a seven to a twenty. And there I was singing away at stop light, but I was still undercover as the windows were rolled up. Couldn’t be singing away by King Taco…that’s Banda Macho territory. I needed to be blasting “El Gato y el Raton,” or Enrique Iglesias.

But after a couple of years I heard the one…the one that made me roll down the windows. She was fairly new on the country scene but this song…made every chick carry a bat in the back of her car. They felt her pain. They knew what she was talking about because they thought if that ever happened to me I would do that too. Carrie Underwood…“Before He Cheats.” I rolled down that window, pumped up the volume, and turned up my best karaoke voice. The guy with the shades in the spruced up, cherry Impala just slightly lowered his glasses, snuck a peek and shook his head in laughter.

We’re chicks…we’re crazy like that.