Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bad Flashbacks - High School Gym Class

Today was interesting, to say the least.  I got a call at 10:15, asking me rather frantically if I'd be available to substitute in a high school gym class, right now.  I have to confess, I wasn't dressed yet (although I was up, breakfasted and spinning laundry by then), but I didn't tell them that.  I told them I'd be there in 15 minutes, threw my clothes and makeup on, and hit the road.  It turns out that someone forgot to request subs for the gym teachers that would be helping with today's Special Olympics events at the high school.  So, I was IT in every sense of the word.  I was literally the only sub they could get to come in - I have no idea if they had others decline the invitation to sub in a gym class, lol.

So, in the apparently closed-loop default routine of gym classes all over the United States for the past 75 years, I came in to get several classes through KICKBALL.  (Actually, it was the variation that my own schools called "mat ball," since the "bases" were 4' x 6' gym mats, so multiple kids could be "on base" at any given time, although when I called it mat ball today the kids looked at me like I was from Mars.)  Anyhow, the class divided themselves into two teams, with a fairly even mix of jocks, popular girls, sporty girls, unathletic/possibly nerdy guys and girls, and the usual handful of "I don't give a rat's behind" kids who just stand around and talk while the ball and other kids whiz by them in random trajectories.  By the end of the first class, I'd established that I really could yell as loudly as my mother (who has a voice projection gift that's legendary in our family), and I really could keep the upper hand among 20+ high school students, even the ones who tried to sneak out early to get to lunch.

Then we came to the second class.  Somehow, mysteriously, between the first class and the second class, one of the kickballs had gone missing, and one was stuck up above the scoreboard (tossed there by guys fooling around with it, naturally).  No kickballs to use, the ball locker was LOCKED, and the only other available equipment was for FLOOR HOCKEY.  Oh-kay.  I took my life in my hands and issued hockey sticks and a whiffle ball to the kids.  My voice got an even better workout with this class, full of high-sticking, rowdy guys and a handful of brave girls.  I only had to sideline two kids, and only two fingers got mashed.  Small victory.  (Did I mention it's homecoming week, and it was costume/twins day?  So I had a set of guys dressed as giant mustard and ketchup containers playing hockey.  Mustard got benched.)

Finally, the third class, of about 40 students - a double class.  By this point one of the two gym teachers normally in there was supposed to return from their Special Olympics duties.  The class started, and I was still solo.  (Thinking, "Oh crap, what am I going to do with 40 high school kids in the gym for 40 minutes?!")  I was just getting ready to have the kids play "capture the flag" (at the suggestion of one genuinely helpful young man in the class) when two things happened:  the missing kickball suddenly reappeared from heaven only knows where, and one of the gym teachers returned.  I was saved!  He got out a small electric personnel lift used for hanging banners and changing light bulbs, and retrieved the stuck ball.  (Obviously this was almost a daily occurrence, retrieving objects stuck in the rafters and scoreboards - he might have been going to get coffee, it was so routine.)  I was SO grateful to see him!  More kickball/mat ball ensued, with no more injuries (although I had to duck one kicked ball that would have taken my head off - at least I still have decent reflexes).

I was relieved to survive the gym, but the day wasn't over.  I'll be subbing in a special ed class on Friday, and the teacher came down to ask me if I could stop by during the last period (when I had no gym class) to talk with her about her students.  She works as a 7th-8th grade resource/push-in teacher in several classes, and has a small math class as well.   This teacher will be going on maternity leave soon, and I may be asked to take over her class for a while, as a long-term sub. (The assistant principal asked me about the possibility last week.)  It was good to talk with her and meet some of her students, and I think if I'm asked to, I'll accept the long-term sub position, which would be at least up to Christmas break. 

Busy, busy!  But in a good way.