I’ve literally been called in for every day for last week and next. I think teachers have a lot of sick days to burn or something. I even have a full day at the high school, which is a first (every HS assignment I’ve gotten has been half-day).

Right now I’m in the middle of my first four-day stint. I was initially excited about the prospect. One of the frustrations of substitute teaching is that you get to know the kids a little bit and then you’re on. I get excited when I see repeats. So a four day assignment? Awesome! Then I found out it was special ed, which lessened my excitement somewhat. But it was special ed at the middle school, which I’ve done before. Different teacher’s name, but the special ed room is chalk full of teachers, so it could be the same students regardless.

It wasn’t. It was, of course, the worst set of students I have ever had. I was warned. The teacher referred to them as “little pieces of…” {ask the student who arrived early to cover his ears} “shit.” Her expectations were basically null. Take a standardized test. They get as long as they need. They should finish in two days, but they have all four. Here’s the science lesson. If you get through this lesson, meant for one day, over the course of your tenure, you did okay.

The “special ed” in this case has a few kids with some learning disabilities, and surely a few others with disabilities I can’t see (a couple of them I had in regular classes and it never occurred to me that they would be special ed material), but mostly kids that needed to be put somewhere and for some reason not to the alternative school. Most of them seem not far below average, though a couple are. One student in particular had to answer a question about his opinion on evil corporations cutting down the forest and disrupting nature so that they can make evil profits. The “correct” answer was in the question (“I think it’s bad.”) but he couldn’t answer it. So I said, “Just put down what you think.” To which, he said with great exasperation, “I DON’T THINK!” He’s one of my favored students, along with an awesome girl who is Daria Morgandorffer with Aspergers. The rest would prefer throw stuff at one another or hit each other with rulers. I do what I can, but it isn’t much. Can you send a whole class to detention? A couple kids did get detention. One for throwing something right after I told him not to (easy to single that out) and another (not one of the few with obvious retardation, though clearly a kid with issues) for dropping his pants and farting in the face of another student. That was Day One. Day Two said kids refused to do their work because “I have detention this afternoon. I’ll do it then.”

So I’m two days in and dreading tomorrow and the next day something fierce. Fortunately, I had a weekend to unwind. But I’m not looking forward to tomorrow.

Almost any time I sub and talk to one of the other department teachers, they say “Look, if you have any problems, send them over to my room.” I got no such offers this time around. Over lunch I was asked by a teacher that I knew from having subbed for her before how the day was going. I told her it was a challenge in as diplomatic terms as I could. Another teacher – who is next door to me – said, “You’re just doing fantastic. I don’t think that they’ve ever been this quiet!”


Category: School

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

10 Responses to Special Ed: Minding The Hellspawn

  1. stone says:

    “One student in particular had to answer a question about his opinion on evil corporations cutting down the forest and disrupting nature so that they can make evil profits. The “correct” answer was in the question (”I think it’s bad.”) ”

    Seriously? I can’t believe it was really that bad.

  2. trumwill says:

    It didn’t use the word “evil”, but it was a pretty loaded question in its phrasing. Regardless of my thoughts, I wouldn’t have ventured an answer other than “it’s bad.” A few weeks ago there was a question in a different science class about oil drilling in South America that was worse. I’ve been contemplating a post on some of these “critical thinking” questions I am seeing.

  3. Peter says:

    another (not one of the few with obvious retardation, though clearly a kid with issues) for dropping his pants and farting in the face of another student

    That’s actually quite inventive.

  4. web says:

    This reminds me of one of my grad school classes, a post I’ve been holding back on for a while. Now may be a good time.

  5. SFG says:

    “an awesome girl who is Daria Morgandorffer with Aspergers”

    That must be amusing…any clever snark?

  6. Mike Hunt says:

    web: This reminds me of one of my grad school classes, a post I’ve been holding back on for a while. Now may be a good time.

    THIS reminds you of a grad school class. Please do a post regarding this class ASAP.

  7. web says:

    I meant to type “grade school.” My typo.

  8. trumwill says:

    SFG, an enemy of hers (an obnoxious girl that gets away with it on account of her looks) said, at some point, “I have an idea” (about how to get the projector working, I think) and “Daria” immediately got to work on a certificate for her very first idea.

  9. Mike Hunt says:

    @7

    I didn’t realize you made a typo. I thought maybe it was a class where you discussed special education.

  10. trumwill says:

    My first thought: Web, when did you start going to grad school? Was it some sort of secret?

    My second thought: Wait this behavior reminds you of something you saw there? My lord, man, what kind of grad school are you going to?!

    My third thought: wait, you’re probably talking about something in the grad school at Southern Tech.

    My fourth thought: Oh my god you’re seeing this sort of behavior at Southern Tech?!

    My fifth thought: Hmm, must be some conversation about some grade…

    My sixth thought: Wait, is this a typo?

    My mind took the long way around.

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