It’s official: I’m an employee of the Clark County School District. For five weeks, I’ve been bitter as I wake up and drive forty minutes across town to Legacy High School. Bitter as I correct student papers knowing with each passing minute that this isn’t my job. I’m just a substitute. Bitter when students leave their gum on the ground for me to pick up and whine with every given assignment. I feel cheated when I get paid.
On Wednesday, I got a phone call during my prep. The district told me I had been hired as a full-time teacher. I’d get all the benefits that go with it—even a new nametag that said, “Teacher” rather than “Visiting Teacher.”
At first, I called Brad and sobbed to him during my prep. Then I called my mom and sobbed to her. My face was still splotchy when my next class came in. So much of me didn’t want the school district to offer me the job. I’d feel better if they told me they couldn’t fit it into the budget to hire one more teacher. And then I could leave feeling more bitter and more angry towards the school district. I could hate them forever. But this?! Now they’re offering me a job that I don’t even want but know I have to take.
But something changed Thursday morning. It was my first official day as a real teacher. None of the students and most of the teachers didn’t know a difference. They didn’t know about the transition between long-term substitute and full-time, contracted teacher. But I knew, and I had a new sense of confidence in the classroom, my classroom. The discipline problems weren’t a problem. I wasn’t bothered by the girl who screams out, “MISS!” every time she gets another assignment because I’m somehow ruining her life by giving her class work. I wasn’t bothered by the boy who picked his nose all throughout the class, thinking that no one could see him as he covered his nose with one hand and picked with the other. I wasn’t bothered by the know-it-all teacher because now I am on her same level. She cannot talk down to me anymore: I’m a teacher too. And I plan to be a much better teacher than I was a substitute.