Barely out of college I started substitute teaching. I looked so young I figured I’d try and find some old man teacher stereotype clothing – my oversized concert t’s, grunge flannels, and faded jeans just weren’t going to cut it. I also grew a beard to try and age myself a bit – of course turns out patchy beards are kind of a tell.
I’d bring along Wallace & Gromit (VHS edition of course) in case the teacher totally left me without any guidance or plan (too often). My signature “trick” as a sub was to play the Sherlock Holmes game of trying to figure out as much as possible about the kids as they came into class and then work it in, seemed to keep their attention (and sometimes just plain freak them out). Some things are easy, catching names on their binders while they walk in, others a bit more subtle, if a girl has hair to her waist and it’s in perfect braids at age 8 you can bet she’s an only child, no mom of more than one has that kind of time in the morning. And of course kids with siblings in high school usually dress older or “cooler” than counterparts that don’t have that influence. When they’d start saying things like, “how’d you know that!” I’d pull out the worn paperback complete Sherlock Holmes (that I stole off that boat in AK no less) and read the section where Holmes asks Watson how many steps there are from the sidewalk up to their 2b apartment, then chides him with that classic, “you see my dear Watson, but you do not observe”.
Couple other things I picked up:
Heck yeah I’m using a red pen.
No, you really can’t be friends with them. Really. Really.
Oh and when that slightly “mature” female student pulls you aside and tells you she thinks she might be pregnant and how would she know? Grab that female PE teacher and get her over QUICK.
Brooks Brothers Shirt and Tie (which in rural Northern California really stood out. Sigh.)
Clark’s Desert Boot
Leather Postal Messenger bag by J. Crew (*note that the one I actually carried was, well more appropriate to a sub’s pay)
Zach Galifianakis beard