You remember the movie, Never Been Kissed, how Drew Barrymore goes back to her high school as an undercover reporter and gets a second chance at learning high school lessons? My experience is nothing like that. However, today I was a substitute teacher at my middle school and worked alongside the same teachers I had studied under ten years ago. This is an incredibly eye opening experience – to see that even teachers swear during their lunch period, are nicer when they don’t have to discipline pre-teen boys, and at the end of the day – they’re rushing to their cars like we always rushed to the buses.
Great Oak Middle School has now seen FOUR Lindemann children, I introduced myself to a teacher as part of a town-dynasty at one point during the day. The last of our dynasty will graduate this coming June and the Lindemann name will only be a memory to the teachers and staff of the middle school. “So much has happened since I roamed those halls during my awkward years,” I thought to myself as I walked by the picture of my graduating class: the class of 2000, “it feels like a different lifetime.” I walked by my locker (third from the left in the eighth grade hallway) and a feeling of nostalgia came over me – but not one strong enough to make me feel like I’m thirteen again. No, I’ve since grown up. Now I am the one wearing heals that firmly walk the tile floors, with determination in my step and knowledge in my mind. I am the one who can look up the answers in the teachers’ book because I cannot remember how to figure out that math problem (what is the purpose of stem-and-leaf graphs ANYWAY?). And I am the one who tears up a little at the end of reading The Pigman because I now know what it feels like to lose someone close. Even furthermore, I am the one who no longer takes the comment: “You’re my favorite substitute!” as a compliment – because it means I haven’t disciplined well enough.
Though I woke up this morning preparing to teach the future of America, I came out learning more than I expected to. Isn’t that what school is all about?