I had to take last Friday off (for travel to Suckromento), and it was the first time I’d taken a day off this year. It’s always the same the first time I tell them I will be gone. There’s a mixture of yeas and ooohs. I always play it up,

“I see how it is. I’ll miss you guys too…”

Then there’s the chorus of,

“You should get ______. (S)he is the best!” (Insert three or four names of pushover-type “guest teachers” who resort to videos or games of Heads Up Seven Up.)

Then there’s me saying,

“I never request a particular sub, sorry–guest teacher; you guys will have to learn to cope with whomever they send at you. Sometimes they will send you a bonehead. In your life you will sometime, no doubt, have a bonehead for a boss. But guess what? He’s still the boss! So the watchwords are: silence and respect. If you end up with a bonehead, let me know, and he won’t be back. But you better be better for the sub than you are for me.”


“I believe I said, ‘You better be better for the sub than you are for me.’ I was a sub back in the day, so I know from subbing. I’ll just share with you the first thing I put in my sub plan every time I’m gone: Kick _ss and take names.”


“Stop. I give them a seating chart, and if you’re a pain in the heinie, all they have to do is put a little mark next to your name, and when I get back, you’re…well let’s just say that it won’t be pretty. Plus I have them rate each class on its behavior and cooperation on a scale of 1-10. You get anything less than an eight, and I go old-school on you:

‘I must be obedient and respectful for the guest teacher.’ Fifty times. Hand-written. Capitals, periods, whole nine yards. Whole class… ”

“No way.”

“Way. Unless, I guess, you guys give up whoever was the real culprit…”


“Of course, if you get a ten, there’s a reward.”

“Yea! Candy!”

“Then you woke up. Something way better, but I’m not going to tell you now. I want you to be especially jealous of the classes that earn it.” (The classes that receive tens don’t have to do the KBARR response that week–it gets them out of a page of writing, and once the other classes find out, they are literally green with envy.)

So I get back on Monday, and I read the note.

It’s a bit skimpy; I like a lot of details in my sub notes, but…ok. Two classes got nines, one eight (living dangerously), and two tens. Not bad. I never believe it when they all get tens.  Then I look at the name, and a bell goes off. I ask the kids,

“So how was Mr. B.?”

“He was awesome! We told him that you sometimes kicked our desks when we weren’t paying attention, and about your stick. He said, ‘Like this?’ and threw Jake’s desk across the room. Luckily Jake was absent. The teacher from the room next door is weird.”

“What does that have anything to do with anything?”

“When he threw the desk, it hit the wall, and he was sort of making a lot of noise. She came in and told him to be quiet. Then we did the test. He showed us a picture of his fiance. He was awesome.”

“Did he follow the plan?”

“I guess.”

“Did he tell you what his secret was? Why he was awesome? Why he was so good at chucking stuff around? Where he got his coolness?”


“Mr. B was in this class. Back in the day. Sixteen years ago, I think. He learned from the best.”

“Nuh uh.”

“Yuh huh.”