A colleague was absent today. She is a favorite among the students and class seemed difficult without her - or so I heard.
Our sub was not accustomed to our school culture. She was strict - which is fair when you have to be the sub. But her strictness felt like meanness to some of my students.
I stopped in to check in with a student about an entirely different matter and was met with furious whispering. "What should we do?" "She is so mean!"
My advice was simple. "You got this. Stay calm. Do your work. Be kind and remember that the sub is new."
About five minutes later, I got some emails.
"There is a problem. Please come back," one student wrote.
"I just got yelled at and it wasn't my fault," wrote another.
My reply remained the same: "Stay calm. Be kind. Remember she in new here."
The reply from KP was the best: "I will stay calm." For her, this is real growth.
After the period was over, they all came to my class. "She didn't know our names! I want to be called by MY name not 'young lady!' I'm gonna tell Ms. Martin when she comes back!"
For all of us, this was a great opportunity to appreciate each other.
For all of us, we appreciate the awesome work that Ms. Martin does and we keenly felt her absence today.
For me, I appreciated my students for asking for my help and my advice - and for accepting it. Each of the frustrated students came back ready to process and move on. The irony is that a month and a half ago, they thought I was overly strict and did not see me as a means of help or solutions. Today, that changed a little.
For the students, they appreciated their school. We are not an overly "schooly" place. We care about each other. We help. We are allowed to be a little bit messy. When those parts of who were are were missing, we noticed just how much we rely on them each day.
I am not sure if the sub will come back. She indicated to another colleague that "the jury was still out" on whether or not we were a good school. I sincerely hope that she does come back. I'd like my students to have the opportunity to try again to face a new situation - this time with more tools and greater understanding. And I like for her to see the students as I saw them today - as people who care about their thinking, care about how they are treated and care about their school.