Out of all the substitute teachers I've had only two are really memorable, and one of them only is because she let us sit on a big aerobics ball instead of a chair for a few minutes if we were good (she was a child psychologist or something).

I don't remember his name but he was tall and black with a loud voice and extremely white, perfect teeth. He had a medium frame and looked strong like he worked out or something. He spoke like he was raised in a white family or a rich suburb.

The main thing about him was his energy and his drive. He didn't spend much time sitting at his desk and didn't spend much time being still at all really. I could tell he was a competitive type, the very definition of type A. I really do hope he works out because he must have been working up a risk for heart disease his whole life.

I wonder if the school secretly hired him as a motivational speaker or if that is just what he thought his job was. He didn't start the day with the lesson plan like subs are supposed to do, instead he told us that there are 175 days in the school year and asked how many of those we actually care about school. He took a lot of answers, most kids lied and said 175 or something close to it, one or two thought it would be funny to say 0 and a few said 20 or 30. Apparently this wasn't an opinion kind of question and when he felt he had heard enough he gave us the 'right' answer.

He raised his voice to a booming volume and I wondered if he was yelling at us for the wrong answers or just trying to get our attention (it wasn't like he didn't have it). "5!!!" He held up 5 fingers and practically blew our hair back with his voice. "175 days in a year and you only care about 5! You all care about the first day of school, you wonder who you're teacher's gonna be and you wonder who's going to be in your classes. And then you care about when you get your report cards, you wonder what you're gonna get and how you're gonna show your parents." He counted off the days on his hand and really exaggerated it like he was on a stage or something. This was how he started a speech about "always give 100%" and trying as hard as you can, all day, everyday. One line that really stuck was when he raised his voice again (somehow) and said, "At the end of the day you all should be crying, every one of you! Because you all didn't give 100% in here and you know it and you should be crying every day! I know my kids always give it 100% and they'd be crying if they didn't and if I was you I'd be crying if I didn't give it my best!" I think it should be mentioned that I was in 3rd grade at the time.

He was a real perfectionist about everything and always demanded our "best". He was angry when we couldn't multiply well enough or didn't know the history questions or a few of us hadn't done our homework... this usually lead to him telling us some bullshit about how he'd spend two hours every night doing times-tables or he'd read books until his fingers bled and he did it because that was the only way he'd ever make something of himself or something like that (all when he was 8 years old!). By the end of the day I was thinking I really didn't like that guy. I think he struck a chord with some of us and a few kids actually were crying at the end of the day.

I think I did try harder at school for a few days after he was gone (he only taught our class one day) until I realized something: If I always demanded of myself "the best" and did as he told... I'd be just like him.

I've been a slacker ever since.

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