A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call from the Principal’s Secretary. My Mother-in-Law was a Principal’s Secretary and later a Superintendent’s Secretary. She is a kind and caring person and would NEVER purposely sabotage someone. But she is, I believe the exception to the rule. Let me tell you my thoughts about Principals’ Secretaries. In the school, they have a lot of power. So, you want them to be your friend. You make sure you say “hi” and chat for a bit. You make sure that you always respond to their emails.
When I found out that I got the job at the High School, the Principal’s Secretary was the first person I made sure I got to know. In fact, I didn’t meet the Principal until I started working at the school, but I made sure that I met his Secretary as soon as was appropriate. I had a discussion with her about Chris’ condition before I spoke to the Principal (she walked me into his office and stood in support of me while I told him). Anyway, it is just smart to be nice to the office staff (and the custodians – we have “substitutes” since I started, but I always say “hi” when I see them in the hall).
Anyway, when the Principal’s Secretary calls, you take the call. I happened to be in the building when she called me. The first thing she said to me was, “Robin, I need a favor.” That favor was subbing for one of the PE teachers. Thankfully, I was already subbing 2 of my 3 free periods of the day. I say thankfully because if I wasn’t already subbing, I would have had to sub for 3 periods in PE.
I have made a big deal about being able (and willing) to sub in the building whenever possible. When I sub, I make decent money (if I sub for 3 hours, I make more than when I was in the sub pool and subbed for full days). I also get the opportunity to meet other staff in the building, different students and show myself as a team player.
So, on this particular day, I said “yes” to subbing 1 period of PE and “I’m sorry, I’m already subbing for another teacher for 2 periods.” However, this meant that I had to find my way to the Main Gym (apparently we have a number of gyms in the two buildings) and sub in Team Sports. The sub plans left by the regular teacher were sparse. They basically told me to have 2 students do warm-ups with the kids and then have them shoot baskets. Shooting baskets isn’t a team sport, but I’m not a PE teacher. Ok, seemed easy enough.
I found the gym. I found some of my students and made sure that I was in the right gym. No lights on in the gym, and no basketballs to be found. Sent two kids to see if they could find another one of the PE teachers and tell them that the lights weren’t on, there weren’t any basketballs (needed per the lesson plan) and that my keys didn’t work in the storage room door (of course they didn’t work, I’m an English teacher and my keys work in the English rooms). They came back because they couldn’t find anyone.
Wonderful. So, I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what I am going to do with 35 kids who are supposed to be playing team sports, but actually shooting baskets, in a dark gym without basketballs. Not coming up with anything. Send the boys back out to try to find a real PE teacher. Finally, they come back and tell me that someone is on the way. Thank goodness!
The PE teacher comes in with a cart of basketballs and turns on the lights. He seemed surprised when I asked him if he wanted me to bring the basketballs somewhere when class was finished. But, since there was another team sports class that had a sub later in the day, it wasn’t necessary for me to do anything.
I took attendance. Asked the 5 girls in the class if any of them wanted to lead warm-ups (I figured one girl and one boy). They pointed out a group of boys who I should ask – so I did. The kids did warm-ups and then went to shoot baskets. Taking attendance and warm-ups took about 15 minutes (the kids had to change into PE clothes before I could take attendance) and I was to let them go to the locker rooms about 10 minutes before the end of class. That left almost an hour of shooting baskets. How boring. Of course, I figured I would be busy, so I didn’t bring anything to do. I ended up watching kids shoot baskets for an hour.
What I can tell you is that PE class hasn’t changed. Some kids gathered around the gym talking and passing a ball around or shooting every so often. Some kids found creative ways to shoot basketballs (I let them, until they were doing front flips and shooting – I told them that Administration wouldn’t appreciate having blood all over the gym floor and having me having to call 911 during my first month as a high school teacher). They shot from across the gym, they sat down and shot backwards, they lay on the floor on their back and did a sit-up shot.
Amazing. Nearly 25 years have gone by since I was a high school student and PE class hasn’t changed. In fact, boys haven’t changed. And honestly, if I never get asked to sub in PE again, I will be very happy. Although, I think that it is highly unlikely that the Principal’s Secretary will forget to call and ask me next time she needs to find a sub in PE. I guess I’ve accomplished my goal of having her on my side – but it comes with a price.