The Substitute Teacher: Surprises galore

Std VI C wanted to do something about the ST but what and how?

November 27, 2022 11:37 pm | Updated 11:37 pm IST

The story so far:When the Substitute Teacher shakes things up in his first class, Std VI C is caught off guard.

After that first day, VI C waited for the Substitute Teacher (ST) to disappear. But, he was there the next day. And the next. It was a bit of a shock to see him every day, but VI C could have learnt to deal with that. The problem was that they saw too much of him.

He began by teaching them English, which was fine since he was taking Ratna Miss’ place. Of course, he could never be better than her; she had been the best teacher in the world. But, there was something fun and exciting about the way the ST taught them. It was no longer a subject to be tolerated; it was a journey, thrilling and unexpected.

When someone muttered, “Something must be done about the ST”, everyone agreed. Std VI C, which rarely agreed on anything, was startled by this. But what could they do? Someone suggested complaining; another spoke of telling the parents. But, they all knew that none of this would work. In any case, the ST was not here to stay. Before they knew it, he would be gone.

Questioning and suggesting

But the ST didn’t seem to know that it was time for him to go or that his reading circle created uncomfortable pairs. Or that teachers spent their free time in the staff room. Instead, he appeared in the playground just as VI C was walking in a jostling, chattering crowd. Jaws dropped when he announced that he was going to take Games. When someone whispered, “Something will have to be done”, everyone nodded. In the meanwhile, they had to get through Games. Any other teacher would have settled in the shade of a tree, but not the ST. He was everywhere, asking questions, offering suggestions, finding fault.

“Sir,” VI C pleaded, “this is how we play.”

“Why don’t you try my method?” he asked, sounding so humble that VI C was flattered and agreed.

They soon found that the ST had very firm views on Games. He wouldn’t let anyone relax in the shade and didn’t believe in friends playing together. Instead, he pulled the class together to play an energetic and completely mad game. It was part Dodge Ball, part Catch and the rest was based on crazy rules. Once they had understood these rules, the class threw itself into the game, running and screaming, forgetting completely that it had not wanted to play, forgetting everything it had decided about the ST.

Panting and excited, they streamed back to class. And again found themselves in agreement. This time, the question was: should something be done about the ST?

(To be continued)

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