Substituting Stephanie

Colorful classroom.

Colorful classroom.

On Wednesday afternoon and all day on Thursday, I assumed the moniker “Mrs. Robertson” and served as a substitute science teacher at my daughter’s school.

I only had the 3rd grade on Wednesday. When they came in the classroom, I had a Youtube video of a Fogo volcano (off the coast of Africa) blasting away on the projector. The children liked that! After we gathered rocks, moss, and twigs, the kids came back inside; each table teamed up to build their own volcano out of a paper cup (to use as a crater), paper plate (to set the cup on), and modeling clay. That’s about all the time we had for Wednesday.

I went to bed around 9:30 that night, which is very early for me.

I’m not a morning person, but I got up ready to go the next day. I had the 5th, 6th, 4th, and 3rd grades, respectively. I was amazed at how well the kids behaved. Talkative and giggley at times, yes. Disrespectful, no. I loved them!

I’m not sure if they are ever going to call me back to sub, though, after the 3rd grade volcano blast.

No, I’m serious!

Each team put their volcanoes into plastic bins. (Their regular teacher had suggested this so that we would avoid a huge mess.) I took pictures of each team with their volcano. They added baking soda and I squirted dish detergent in so that the “lava” would last longer. Then I went to each table and poured on the reactant: vinegar. (I learned a lot about reactants, chemical changes, and physical changes when I taught the 4th grade class.)


Each volcano erupted, and so did the kids!

I didn’t hold them back.

They yelled, cheered, squealed, and laughed. It was so loud!

I went around again and doused their infernos with more fuel. The kids went crazy. And then I was like, “Oh, maybe I should calm them down.”

Believe it or not, I turned off the lights and they calmed down. I tried an old stand-by that Mom used for her students and got the kids to put their heads on their desks (this was after I collected the volcano and canisters). It worked.


I asked the teacher next door, “Um…were we loud? Did we disturb you?”

She said that we were loud, but it was okay. We hadn’t bothered her. Whew! She’s a good sport!

Here’s the kicker: I had allowed one videographer for each table. Their regular teacher is going to get some surprise on Monday morning when the kids show her their volcano videos on their tablets!!!

I may not ever be hired back to be “Mrs. Robertson” again, but I’ll bet those little cuties won’t forget the day the science class exploded.

And I fell asleep at 8:30 last night!

The volcano bins.

The volcano bins.

The science class degus.

The science class degus.

The science class turtles, Crush and Callie.

The science class turtles, Crush and Callie.

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The Substitute Teacher was Mean as a Snake and Southern as They Come

Wheeeee!  One little leaf goes fluttering to the ground.

Wheeeee! One little leaf goes fluttering to the ground.

Today is a very cool day in north Alabama. The sky is crystal clear, the sunshine deceptive. Yesterday, a blustery artic wind blew in from the north and shook the leaves of the ancient oak trees outside of Princess Buttercup’s school, where I was working as a substitute for her class.

The wind would blow, and the leaves pelted the windows of the old school building. I finally figured out how to use the remote control to get the heater working.

The kids were very sweet, good, and respectful. Buttercup goes to a good school.

Being a sub is no easy job. The teachers have their schedules down to a science: how to teach that many subjects within the allotted time. I did my best but was far behind schedule. I think we did just three subjects! Not to mention, I had to explain some math concepts, and math is not my best subject. Poor kids.

I remember having subs when I was growing up in rural Alabama. It was a tricky proposition. You never knew what kind of sub you were going to get. Sometimes they were push-overs. Sometimes they were strict and stalwart as wooden sticks. But it was always nice to have a change of pace from the regular teacher.

Mom tells about one of our relatives that used to substitute for her high school class. This was when Mom was a girl, growing up in Jachin. The kids would always manage to get this substitute to talk about “the Yankees,” no matter what subject they were on. I think the lady’s father or grandfather must have fought in “The War.”

Interestingly enough, I got the lady’s daughter as a teacher when I was in the fourth grade. It started off when the school year began and we got some fresh-from-college teacher named Miss M. Miss M was very young and very new at teaching. She barely tolerated our class, and by Christmas had decided to call calf-rope. (That means that she decided to call it quits.) I think my class got to her. The last thing we ever heard was that she had decided to go to graduate school. She probably decided to go to grad school in something completely different and to her liking such as—who knows what…political science, maybe?

That’s when Mrs. S, our relative and a divorcee with a young son, stepped in. She was mean as a snake and southern as they come. I thought that she would be nice to me, since she was a distant relative. But not so fast, my friend. She treated me with the same unshakable firmness that she doled out for the rest of the class. Like an Army sergeant, she called us all by our last names.
One day when she was calling out names while passing out graded papers, I spoke up and asked her, if she pleased, to call me by my first name. Her eyes burned with the fire that surely came from her Confederate forefathers. “I will not!” she said and contemptuously handed me my paper.

Somehow I made it through the rest of the year. That was the only year that cousin Mrs. S taught at my school. The next class had a luckier time, getting a new teacher who stayed all year.

I, however, enjoyed substituting yesterday, and I hope that the kids enjoyed it, too. I don’t really have a picture to go along with this blog, but I do have pictures of pretty fall leaves that I’ve taken. Hope you enjoy!










Leaves falling all over the road before the cars can chase them off.  Small Alabama town.

Leaves falling all over the road before the cars can chase them off. Small Alabama town.

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