I love substitute teaching. I love the variety and daily change of pace. Even when I’ve done long term assignments each day is different. One of the other nice aspects is being able to look at the politics of a work environment and celebrate not being a part of it. I like getting to know students and trainees and seeing their bad sides (and subs always see the worst part of students) knowing they are essentially good people–for the most part, I hate seeing the mean in some kids and I’ve hated seeing bullying. I also love getting to know the faculty at the different schools I work at.

Today was the last day for one of the Faculty in Assembly. She left half-way through the day and got the chance to say good-bye to all the trainees she worked with. Some of them were brought to tears and some are not sure what happened. She left for the reasons most people leave: greener-pastures, better pay and benefits and a change of pace. She wanted to continue in Assembly and work at the new job as well, but conflicting training schedules ruled that out. Things like this happen.

The difference in this experience and when a teacher leaves mid-term at a main-line school is the student rumor-mill. Like Assembly, faculty do not tell students why someone leave. It rightfully isn’t their business. At school, the student rumor-mill goes into over drive. The students try to figure out why something they don’t understand happened. Particularly with popular people like the faculty-member who left today. Sometimes dark-hints from less than ethical faculty will cause student-body ire to fall on administration or other faculty. In Assembly, the trainees cry and admit how much they will miss someone, but only occasionally is there a bru-ha-ha.

When I first started subbing at Assembly, I was replacing a faculty member who left under dubious conditions. The rest of the faculty was glad to see her go, but not many trainees. When I took over, I was answering questions about the now gone faculty-member and when was she coming back for two weeks. A couple even told me it was my fault (usually after I told them to do something). Still, acceptance settles in faster in Assembly than at a main-line school.

To me, the reason is simple: constant turnover. At the institutional care most of the Assembly trainees live in, there is a lot of turn-over. The work is hard. I couldn’t do it. I can’t deal with adults who need bathrooming help and I gag at the smell of poop. There is not a lot of long term continuity and so the trainees get used to people going in and out of their lives. The trainees know I am a sub and that I work with every population group. They are used to the idea that I will be working with them one day, at a middle-school another day and then magically, I am back with them or with a different group in the facility like Laundry or Brick.

While I am very glad the particular faculty-member left today (she did give notice and was quite professional) and agree with why she went, I find the consistency of the trainees lives lacking. Even here, some of the faculty have been in Assembly for years. One for thirty-two years, but it just isn’t the same. Living on a bed of sand is not good for anyone.


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