I’ve come to learn that teachers’ pets are actually a little like pets. Some are like hounds or shephards, and they can really help you out. Others, for the most part, just want to hump your leg. Then there are those that are exceptionally nice to you because they know that when you walk upstairs, you’ll discover that they pooped by your bed.

My first assignment had a teacher’s pet named Marinda. I really thought she was a godsend as she helped guide me through the class. The first half-day, she was quite helpful. By the end of the second day, I found her to be extremely annoying. I would specifically ask others for help, when I needed it, because she simply wouldn’t stop… everything. She just wouldn’t stop. I’ve learned to pick up on this type pretty quickly and go to others for help. If nothing else, there’s usually a quiet girl in the back of the class who likes things orderly and tidy and will answer any of your questions to keep the status quo. I can more easily understand teacher bias towards girls in this respect. At least in grade school, they like orderly and tidy a lot more than boys.

Most of the helpful boys fall into that third category. They’re actually not the best behaved kids in the room. Sometimes, they’re among the worst. They know this. It seems like they really can’t help themselves. They try to compensate by, when they’re not being bad, by being as helpful as possible, hoping to mitigate the negativity in the note I leave behind. Or else, the bad behavior and the help both trace back to the root cause. Outgoing kids with pent up energy. An inability to be quiet and sit still. A natural force that can be used for good, evil, or frequently both.

It’s difficult to understate the degree to which substitutes have to rely on classroom helpers. Or at least I do. No amount of note-leaving by the teacher will explain everything. A lot of times, if you do something “wrong” (something other than the way it is usually done), you will have ten or so objections at once. Of course, sometimes it’s contradictory. I’ll pick a certain way to do something and the kids who prefer it that way will say “Yeah, we do that sometimes” while the rest will say “nuh-uh!” Fortunately, you can tell by a straw poll and by the words they use “we do it that way sometimes” versus “we always do it this way.” That’s when it gets complicated, though, because you have at least a couple kids excited about what you said you were going to do. Their hopes were up and everything.

Interestingly, one thing I haven’t really seen that I would have expected to is animosity towards teachers pets. I would think that Kid A would be upset with Kid B when Kid B informs me that the teacher doesn’t let the class do what Kid A is doing. But really, the Kid A’s seem to accept their fate with a stunning grace. Oh. Well. Busted. At most, they’ll try to negotiate. But whether they’re guide dogs or leg humpers, the teachers pets do not seem to be as ostracized as I would expect. It makes it easier to ask that quiet girl in the back of the class what we are supposed to do, knowing that I am not putting a target on their back.


Category: School

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2 Responses to Teacher’s Pets

  1. Mike Hunt says:

    Your observations about child psychology in the classroom are keen.

    Have you considered actually becoming a full-time classroom teacher?

    If your wife ever goes into private practice, having you being a public employee saves you both on health insurance, ironically.

  2. trumwill says:

    Glad you like them! More on the way.

    Becoming a full-time classroom teacher requires a degree of retraining that is pretty unattractive, given the relatively low pay and the likelihood that I would not qualify for a pension.

    We can’t really ask for a better health care plan than we’re getting. Though it would be nice to have something if we were to be looking for work again.

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