Wednesday, May 12, 2010



Have you ever subbed for a school you used to be a student at? I'm sure it happens to anyone who teaches in the same area where they grew up, like me. It's very strange going back to your old alma mater, having not seen it literally since the last day of 3rd grade. Spring of 1994. A lot changes took place at Strawberry Fields Elementary in that time, but a remarkable amount stayed the same. Of course the hallways--I didn't remember them being quite that small and bright. I guess memory literally has dimmed them for me. The classrooms were exactly the same--all window-lined and cozy. And I never quite realized how hippie it all was. Nature murals on the walls, school mottos about peace, respect, love. Mandatory chorus productions for the lower grades, in which they sing songs with a 70s vibe about flowers growing and nature being happy. Holding their fingers in the "peace sign" as a way to tell others to be quiet (and the students do this, not the teachers!)

Yes, I had an absolutely wonderful day last Friday (not like the one I had there the week before--I'll save that for another post). It consisted of me acting as special ed. specialist, which was basically helping out the main teachers for a 2nd grade class and a 4th grade class (it goes up to 5th now! It was only K-3 when I went. Crazy.) Let me tell you it was the easiest, most delightful day. I got to help with some reading tests, help make bags for the children's Mother's Day gifts (decoupaged candle-holders), monitor them during chorus rehearsal (which was really just sitting in a metal chair in the cafeteria and watching their adorableness), play with them during recess, helping the other class make tissue paper flowers for their mothers, and my favorite part--we all went outside in the grass and sat in a circle, and opened some screened cages to set the class's butterflies free, which they had hatched themselves for science studies. The kids were delighted; butterflies landed on everyone and fluttered all around us like little orange petals in the wind.

Whoa, sorry, getting a little too hippie dippie there. Anyway, want to know the BEST part of subbing at your old elementary school?

You finally get to see the FACULTY LOUNGE!

Well, obviously it looks like every other teachers' lounge I've visited (not that exciting), but it was still a bit surreal to finally be on the other side of things. And the weirdest part is eating lunch with your former teacher, Mr. Baciagalupo. How weird to hear him be called just plain "Dave." I will never call him Dave. It's just not right.

And then there's the awkwardness of playing the memory game with your old teachers (only 2 of mine are still there--I was told I just missed my others by a year. Also the gym teacher, library teacher--just as scary as when I was young--and a reading specialist who I was never close to). My 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, remembered my last name and my talent, which was astonishing and touching. She didn't seem much like she wanted to talk though. Young and energetic (if firm) when I had her, she still retained that prettiness I remembered, although edged with age.

And Mr. B, well he was completely different from '94. I wonder now whether it's my memory that is wrong, or he acts different around kids than coworkers, or maybe the years of dealing with third graders has caught up with him, but he (I think) used to be upbeat and humorous, and now he is barely monosyllabic. Not to mention he went from black hair to gray, and his face is a lot more bedraggled than I recall. And he didn't remember me at all. Not at all.

Still, it was a wonderful day. I loved that school, and I hope I get to return to it before the year is ended.

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