As I am falling asleep I’m often writing in my head, reworking sentences into perfect prose. Last night I dozed off after writing a wonderful paragraph. I remember thinking that it would be a perfect blog post and that I needed to get it written down first thing in the morning. At dawn’s early light, okay maybe it was more like 10:00, I booted up my laptop and didn’t have anything to write. Not only can’t I remember the perfect sentences, I can’t even remember the topic. So, today’s post is some random thoughts from a recent week substituting.
A few weeks ago I was at a middle school covering a 6th grade reading class. At lunch time I was in the classroom reading the teacher’s lesson plan when a girl came in early and started to chat. After a few general comments she says, “I may run out of the classroom crying because my little brother’s father died last night.”
“Oh, that’s awful,” I tell her. “What happened”
“It happened in his home. I think it’s called a home cide,” she says.
“A homicide?” I ask her. “Someone killed him?”
This child is probably 11 years old and she’s telling me about a murder. She’s 11 and she’s discussing how her mother is worried that she won’t be able to collect social security for the baby because the baby daddy never officially declared paternity and now they had to make sure they got a DNA sample before he was buried. She’s only eleven. She’s a child. Children shouldn’t talk about homicides and DNA and paternity, especially with a substitute teacher that they’ve just met.
I’m a problem solver, a fixer. I’m good in an emergency. I know where to go for help and who to contact. It’s one of the challenges of substituting that the students tell me things and a part of me wants to take charge and make it better. It’s not my role to make it better. I can only listen.