No Substitute

Today was an interesting day.

I was called in at the crack of dawn to substitute teach in a different district, about an hour away.

Me Tommy, Tommy Lee Jones. Me too. 

Sometimes I dread subbing. You don’t have as much preparation time, you don’t know your way around, and often, you are reminded of how… “unusual,” for lack of a better word, you are. It’s such a stupid cliche that I hate to even acknowledge it, but I am the only white teacher at any of the schools where I teach so I guess that’s the best way to phrase it. I have had children scream in shock when I walk into their class. Multiple times in the same day. The downsides of subbing comes with perks though. The expectations are lower, you get to see a different style of teaching than what you are used to, and often you can spend a lot of time on introductions, just discussing your culture.

It was a nice school. Teachers were very friendly, and I was set up to teach four 5th grade classes throughout the day. Early on, I noticed a larger number of foreign kids from around the world in my classes; many of them seemed bored out of their skulls at the somewhat basic sentences we were reviewing. One adorable kid asked if I liked history and then started telling me about his favorite era, the Sengoku Jidai, in Japanese. I was pleased that I caught a bit of it.

The more I walked around the class and asked questions, I started hearing…  something unusual.

Different variations of English language accents.


I asked a teacher in the staff lounge (who, coincidentally, had a flawless Vancouver accent)
The part of town I was subbing in hosts the international headquarters for a few companies, as well as some government agencies, so people regularly move back and forth overseas. I was hearing Australian, English, New Zealand, Floridian, Nebraskan accents all throughout the school.

My last class, the homeroom teacher asked if I had any questions for her class. I asked the kids to raise their hand if they had lived in a different country. Around 1/3 of the students raised their hand, having had lived or studied abroad. All of them were around 10 years old.



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