Ah, subs. If you have a cool one, it’s a ticket to good times. If you have a strict one, you’ll end up wishing for your teacher’s speedy return. Here are some of the substitutes that I’ve classified in my experience. Use this guide to recognize friend from foe.
The Vet is a retired teacher who is a pro and will usually be calm. The Vet will loosely follow the lesson plan, adding her input to make it more interesting. The Veteran knows how to control the class and will accept some fun banter and even show up the rowdier students. The Veteran will listen to the voice of reason if the whole class asks not to take a quiz.
Common sayings: “I know every trick in the book.” “This isn’t my first rodeo.”
The Grudge will fixate on one student and keep calling him out for some minor offense like whispering in class. The student will often not even be a troublemaker, just someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Grudge will leave a note for the teacher that every student knows will not be taken seriously.
Common saying: “You think you’re funny?”
The Dictator will follow the lesson plan like it is the teaching gospel. She will not tolerate talking or whispering, even if your teacher lets you work in groups. She will not hesitate to yell at anyone who is talking. The Dictator is usually reading a book but will almost always be staring at the class with an unhappy face. Watch out: the Dictator has no chill.
Common saying: “Your teacher may let you do that, but I’m not your teacher.”
When you walk into class and there are no adults in sight, but all of a sudden some kid starts addressing the room, you’ve got the Rookie. He looks no older than a student and sometimes dresses like a student too, which doesn’t help his case. He’s quiet, and he won’t care about anything very much.
Common sayings: “Whatever.” “Dude.”
She appears to be about to fall asleep, if she hasn’t already. She looks like a kindly grandmother, and you’ll find yourself following her instructions just because you don’t want to make her sad. If you’re in a history class, brace yourself, because The Oldy will have rambling anecdotes about the past that may or may not relate to the lesson. Sometimes the stories are interesting and informative; other times they’re too long for comfort.
Common saying: “Back in my day ...”
He is educated in pun humor, and is better at making himself laugh than the class. This teacher is all right if you don’t mind the possibility of a joke at your expense. Just sit back and relax, because this class period won’t be too difficult.
Common saying: “A broken pencil is pretty pointless.” (Loud guffawing.)
The Insider knows too much; you can’t pull one over on her. Her BS radar is powerful. She knows school procedures and can tell if the signature on your hall pass is real. If you ask to go to the bathroom, don’t dally – she knows how far it is from your classroom and will catch you if you take too long.
Common saying: “If you really get extra time on tests, your teacher would’ve left me a note.”
The Lingerer shows up when your teacher purposely wants to give you a break and has the class watch a movie. The Lingerer will wait for you to start whispering, stand behind you until she hears whispering in another part of the class, then plunk herself over there. Wherever she goes, an aura of discomfort follows.
Common saying: “Shhhhh.”
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.