Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
I thank my lucky educational stars that I’ve never had to substitute teach. So many movies and books document the horrors of entering a classroom full of adolescents ready to pounce on every mistake and misunderstanding. As a man once a teenager, I remember the exhale that came when I walked into a room void of the regular teacher.
I love hearing stories from other teachers about students that I’ve come to love over the years. This one made me laugh harder than ever. I taught a pair of identical twin boys for the past two years. This year they escaped the torment of my classroom, and it seems they’ve carried their mischievous ways to the 7th grade wing.
Jimmy and Johnny have English class 1st and 2nd period, respectively, and interestingly enough sit in the exact same seat during those classes. As fate would have it, our 7th grade English teacher stayed home sick last Monday. The substitute enjoyed a calm and peaceful 1st period full of idioms, suffixes, and homophones. As 2nd period began, Johnny settled into his seat, probably still warm from Jimmy’s presence there. Not long into class, the substitute turned to see Johnny and recognized his face from 1st period.
“Jimmy, why are you still here? You cannot come for two straight classes. Go to your 2nd period class.”
“But Mrs. Smith, this is my 2nd period class.”
“No it isn’t. You were here last period.”
A sly grin spread across the face of Johnny’s friends, and they couldn’t resist, “Yeah, Johnny! You’re not supposed to be in this class. You have English 1st period! What are you doing here anyway?”
Beginning to feel cornered, Johnny again offered his defense, “But, I am..”
“Don’t get smart young man,” Mrs. Smith built on the momentum. “Take a seat in the hall.”
Johnny sat slumped in hallway with his head down for ten minutes, overpowered by his conniving friends and the innocent sub. Eventually another teacher strolled by and, whereupon hearing the story, informed the substitute that indeed Johnny belonged in 2nd period English, and it was his identical twin, Jimmy, that attended the 1st period class.