Sometimes I try to remember what it feels like to be on the student side of the teacher-student equation. When I remind myself that I was immovable in my determination to be the perfect student, my own experience is simplified.

But here we are, some years later, with few kids displaying cooperation and obedience. Here’s what I think is going on in the minds of many of my students:

Oh, no. We have a sub today. I’ve seen her in the school before, but I don’t know anything about her. I bet she’s mean.

I have my fidget spinner with me, and I bet she knows. I’m sure she knows that we’re not supposed to have one in school. If I’m careful, she won’t see it.

Wonder if she knows what she’s doing. She has gray hair so she’s either slow or she’s been teaching for a long time.

I’m going to have to show her what to do. We do a lot of stuff every day and she won’t be able to figure out how our schedule goes.

I’ll tell her that I am [regular teacher’s] special helper. That way she won’t get confused.

She brought a bag into school with her. I hope she has candy.

Hope it’s lunch soon. I want to be outside with my friends.

Just for comparison, here’s what’s not going on in the minds of my students:

I’m going to figure out how to do everything right.

My job is to be the best kid she’s ever had.

I wonder if one hug per hour is too much.

My job is to help keep all of the other kids in the class doing their work.

Perhaps I’m overestimating the capabilities of students in grades K-5. If I do that, they continue to have the potential for exceeding my expectations. Happily, no matter what they choose to do, my kids always educate and inspire me. Shalom.

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