Last week found me racing back and forth between classrooms in whirlwind days at the middle school with barely, if any, time for a lunch break. Yet, even during these hectic days, I am reminded of the gifts that arise out of this adventure in subbing the middle grades. I, inevitably, learn something. Last week, I learned that it was no big deal to read aloud to a group of middle schoolers.
Allow me to add a backstory. It is, I believe, no accident that I have chosen to substitute teach in the grades where my self-confidence was shattered when I was in school. It was during these formative years when I learned how to doubt my voice and blush at the drop of a hat. Now, subbing in the middle grades is another opportunity for me to grow and learn. Challenge pushes us to the doorway and asks whether we’re ready to step through.
Last week I realized how far I had come since my own middle school years. This growth hasn’t happened over night. It’s been many years now since I’ve found myself turning red in the face each time I meet someone new or step into the spotlight to use my voice, but I had not realized how comfortable I’d become in being placed on the spot until last week. It was, as I sat reading aloud from a book I had never picked up, with a classroom of middle-schoolers listening (or not) to every word I read, and fluorescent lights glaring down at my face, no big deal. I was performing the role that I had been tasked to perform and it felt as natural as washing the dishes.
Of course my audience helped. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be subbing in a district where the students are, for the most part, courteous and well-behaved when it really counts. When a German world appeared during my reading aloud and I mispronounced it, a student called out the proper pronunciation and we moved on. No big deal.
And what a cool experience that was, I thought, as I continued to read.