Posted tagged ‘influencing’

Why I Substitute Teach

August 18, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    August 18, 2018

                                     

School began again this past Wednesday in our area! At Timberview Middle School four hundred or so sixth graders waited outside the doors that first day. Seventh and eighth graders came back on Thursday.

The school staff waited inside the doors and cheered them on as they entered the building for their first middle school experience.

And I was one of the cheering high five-ing staff members!

I’m a substitute teacher, but had been asked to teach the first three days of school by a teacher back in April because of a family wedding she would be attending out-of-state.

Other staff members asked the question: “Mr. Wolfe, subbing already?” Yes, in fact, out of 13 August school days I’m scheduled to sub 10 of them for 7 different teachers. 

I often have people ask me why I substitute teach? Am I a masochist? Is it the appropriate level for how mature I act? Will no one else hire me? Am I reliving my junior high days?

Truthfully, I substitute teach because I enjoy it! I’m serious! One of the best months of my life was when I was asked to do a long-term 7th Grade Social Studies teaching position. I had to work like crazy that month preparing for each day of instruction and interaction, but I was a bit sad when the new teacher was hired. She’s a great teacher (who I have subbed for several times since!), but I missed the kids who I was privileged enough to teach, challenge, and converse with each day. 

That experience has probably influenced my feelings on substitute teaching more than anything else. It imparted confidence in me and brought me to the point where each school day was seen as being an opportunity to influence and educate, as opposed to enduring and dreading.

I don’t substitute teach because we need the income. We’re okay regardless of whether I decide to take the month off or appear in a classroom every school day of that month. The pay, in my mind, is simply a side benefit for doing something I enjoy doing. 

I substitute teach because of the relationships with staff, parents, and students. A few of my best friends are now teachers, who are on staff at Timberview. One of them has been on two mission trips with me. I officiated at the funeral service for another teacher friend who succumbed to cancer two years ago. 

I substitute teach at middle school because it’s an impressionable time for the children who enter there and three years later exit as teenagers. It’s an uncertain and confusing part of their life journeys. I remember my junior high days. They were not that pleasant. I was the smallest kid in my whole class. Other boys in my eighth grade class were beginning to sport facial hair and armpit hair that was dense and long enough to take a weed whacker to. I didn’t even have peach fuzz! I was still like a facial hair desert, void of signs of adolescence!

As a sub I have the opportunity to give a word of encouragement, bring a class to laughter, and grace students with nicknames. I have the opportunity to make a school day more than just books and study sheets. I’m able to make it an experience.

It’s a bit flattering to hear good things being said about me. I’m scheduled to teach 8th Grade social studies for two weeks at the end of October and beginning of November. The teacher came up to me on Thursday and told me she had shared with her classes that I’d be subbing for her during that time. 

“They were so excited!”

Wow! Putting the pressure on me! But, you know something? I’m also excited! I am a blessed man!

Coaching Twelve Year Old Football Rookies

August 31, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             August 31, 2016

                          

Yesterday was the first game for the Timberview Middle School Timberwolves 7th Grade football team. Thirty-one excited twelve year olds boarded the yellow school bus for the slow forty minute ride to one of the southern schools in our league. Most of them even had their uniforms on correctly!

With their blue game pants and blue jerseys on this is still the greenest group of kids I’ve ever coached! Most of them are more familiar with Madden 2016 than what a Spread Formation looks like. There are some powerful thumbs in this group, but have them drop and do push-ups and you quickly realize that the power begins and ends in the big digits.

This “green” blue team is a great group of kids, and I love coaching with Coach Steve Achor, but we knew we weren’t ready for our first game. Lightning had forced us inside so much in our first week that we had only been able to have three days of player to player contact. Understand that those three days included the coaching discoveries of who even wanted to tackle and who wanted to just hang out by the water cooler as we were tackling. Middle school football always has kids who just aren’t totally convinced they want to be there. It sounded good to them upfront, with the uniforms being sharp and all, but once the contact started and a few of those hot August afternoons in full football pads arrive, the scent of uncertainty becomes as profound as the odor in the boy’s locker room.

A few years ago I had a player who was in his first year of playing football. He was never entirely convinced that it was a good thing to do. One day in practice he was playing cornerback and was so close to the sideline he looked like a pony trying to make a break for the open range. I said to him, “Teddy (Not his real name)! Come on in some closer to the play! There’s no one over there!” He looked at me, and with his high-pitched voice said, “No! I’m okay out here!”

And so we traveled with excitement and uncertainty. More than half of our squad had never played football before. Several of them are not tall enough to ride roller coasters at the amusement parks yet. Several others would be too timid to ride a roller coaster yet. Last Friday we had a controlled intra-squad scrimmage…after the lightning storm had passed and we were allowed to go outside! It gave some of our players a warped idea of how good they were, as the first-team running backs kept running for touchdowns against the second unit defense. Could it be this easy? Players answer: Yes! Coaches’ answer: No! No! No!

The plan was to keep the play calling simple. Amazingly no turnovers happened the whole game. On the other hand, every play had something that needed correcting. The good thing about first games is they show you so many things that need to be worked on in practice.

The final score was 28-8, and the home team’s last TD came in the last minute of the game. My back-up quarterback had to play the last quarter. Let me emphasize…my back-up quarterback who I had just discovered in an informal conversation the day before to have played some quarterback and had not practiced that position yet…yes, that back-up quarterback…had to play the last quarter. We scored our touchdown at the beginning of that quarter on a seventy yard sweep run. I sent the play in for the two-point conversion, and quickly noticed everyone standing around in confusion. I yelled “Let’s go! Let’s go!”, and I heard one player say “Coach, we’re missing Brandon!” Brandon is the back-up quarterback. He had been watching Peyton Manning too much, and Peyton Manning was never in for the PAT. Welcome to middle school football!

But you know something! I love coaching these kids! Coach Achor and I have the unique privilege and opportunity to teach them about the game and life, to help them experience what it means to be a team with ups and downs, trials and successes. Bottom line: I am truly blessed!