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June 3, 2011 / Sarah Ludwig

The particular sadness of not being a classroom teacher

The title of this post sounds very depressing, but I just chose it because the title of that book came to mind (I couldn’t finish the book, honestly, because I was feeling sad about something at the time and didn’t think it would improve my mood). The truth is, this post comes out of a very happy experience.

I was a sub for a 7th grade math class.

(This might be some people’s worst nightmare? For me, my worst nightmare would be subbing AP Lit… which I tried to do once; I couldn’t remember anything from college and ended up feeling stupid.) But anyway, subbing in 7th grade math was awesome. The kids were funny and only slightly crazy (today is their last day of class), they made me laugh and they did their work very earnestly.

When you’re a librarian or in educational tech, you don’t get a classroom, per se. If you’re a librarian, your classroom belongs to everyone, and if you’re in educational technology, everyone’s classroom is your classroom for a few hours or days. I do teach lower grades, but they’re in love with their homeroom teachers, not me. And when I was a school librarian, I did teach a few English classes (which I loved), but for the most part, both then and now, I was a piece of the bigger curricular pie. This has a lot of advantages, like the fact that it allows me to get to know a greater number of students than some other teachers. It also means that I rarely get bogged down in the sometimes-difficult day-to-days of the classroom teacher, which I know I should appreciate.

But man, there’s something to be said for being a classroom teacher. At the end of 50 minutes today, I was so happy and had such warm feelings for those students. And I feel that way every time I teach…. okay, most times. So wouldn’t it be great to sustain that, to see kids through their journey? What I do is amazing, it really is, but sometimes it’s hard to walk away, right when things are getting good.

Takeaway? At the very least: middle schoolers are awesome.


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