Subbing is an adventure.

Some days, you get to have a blast teaching Kindergarteners about how to write a 2 (“boys and girls make sure after you make the belly on the two you make a pointy spot before you do the line”) and have them in stitches giggling at Duck on a Bike


Kids loved it.  “The duck is on a BIKE!” Giggles all around.

(no the book doesn’t have anything deeper to make it super funny.  It’s a duck.  On a bike.  The kids were rolling on the ground laughing.  I went with it).

But some days, the teacher you’re subbing for calls you the night before and describes her class.  “They’re like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park”


Adding to the list of things I’ve taught where I’m unqualified:  special ed, middle school, Russian immersion (seriously I’ve taught it), PE, and…. dinosaurs.

I student taught at this school.  It’s a tough school.  The poorest in the district last I checked.  In a housing project.  These kids have a lot going on at home.  There are teachers there who are just burned out.

It was going to be a long day.

There was a late start, but I still had to be there at 7:45.  I corrected some papers, ate breakfast
I never drink enough water unless my blood sugar is really effed (in which case I cannot drink enough.).  I get different water-ish things to make myself drink more.  Currently I’m all about the seltzer water.  Plus Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt (with an absurd amount of cinnamon stirred in.  So good.)

And wrote a blog post.  Which somehow was eaten.

Good morning, you’re teaching velociraptors and technology hates you.


Then I got a text from the teacher, asking me to please have the kids put their stuff into plastic garbage bags


Oh there’s a bedbug infestation in the housing project this school is located in.

Clearly, my day was just getting better and better.

And they’d added in a scripted reading program.

“Scripted” means I get a book like this
Blue = I read.  “Signal” = I snap, and the kids are supposed to respond.  The snapping feels like dog training or something.   Not a fan.

I had leftover soup for lunch
(which was tasty!) and got through the rest of the day.

After the bell rang, two girls asked if they could stay to work on homework. Most of the kids go to the Boys and Girls club after school, and there should be space and staff to help with homework.  But I hear it’s kinda crazy down there.  So as much as I wanted a dinosaur-less room, a snack, and an advil, I let them stay.

One of them, at the end, looked up at me with big eyes and said “I’ve never had a teacher help me with homework before!”

She’s in third grade.  And she hasn’t ever had a teacher take 5 minutes to help her with homework.

There’s a reason kids turn into velociraptors.

When you live in a neighborhood where people get murdered outside your school?  (yeah, that happened this summer)  When it takes your 4th year at a school before a teacher helps you?  When vandalism is such a problem at your school that you get ONE chance, and only one chance, to use the bathroom all morning?

And the problem is, I can’t undo it all.

But I can take a deep breath and say “sure” to something a child asks, even if I don’t want to.

Because really, I didn’t get into teaching just because I loved using pointers and white boards

(although I do love both)

And when you feel like you’ve got a classroom full of velociraptors, you have to remember that your job is to help them become people.

(and when you get home from working on helping dinosaurs become people, ice cream and ibuprofen are a totally acceptable after school snack)


9 responses to “Velociraptors

  1. Lovely post Kalin! Will you be my unborn baby’s teacher? Try to get a job at Glencoe 🙂

  2. Damn your post for making me cry. As a teacher, I have a soft place for kids who just need you to spend a little time with them. Good job.

  3. You are my favorite.
    I am kind of weirded out that they had you correcting papers. Is that normal? I’ve never graded anything while subbing so I’m mystified.

    holy shit. BED BUGS? The snapping scripted reading? So weird. So so weird.

    You are a great teacher and I love that about you. You care. You haven’t given up on the kids. You have empathy. Which is more than a lot of teachers can say.

    Today seems like an appropriate day for Fossil Fuel ice cream no?

  4. WOW I am crying over here…I come here to laugh not cry but its okay, I still love ya!

    “And when you feel like you’ve got a classroom full of velociraptors, you have to remember that your job is to help them become people.” Love this!!!!! you are amazing honey =)

  5. I loved this post!!! Being a teacher, I can totally relate.

    Why do you have to be there at 7:45 – that is super early!? What time does the day start?

  6. You’re amazing, Kalin. I think teachers actually have it harder than journalists. I used to wanna be a teacher to the deaf and blind, and then I realized I just don’t have what it takes: patience, undying patience, determination, all that good humanity stuff. Glad someone like you do, though, or this place will be a whole lot uglier!

  7. I usually come here for laughs. I loved this post- I think it’s one of your best yet. Your students are lucky to have you. Sometimes it’s not fair and those kids don’t deserve to live in those conditions. You are doing a great service to people, really.

  8. this was a really good post. my friend works with kids in the “hood” in Houston as well and it’s hella hard but it’s worse for the kids at home. At least you CARED…most of my friend’s coworkers don’t give a sh*t about the kids anymore.

  9. Pingback: The Shout Out Post « My Marble Rye

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