There is at least one truth that I have recognized after nearly twenty years (on and off) of substitute teaching. The students that I teach are generally direct and clear reflections of their full-time teachers, good or bad.

It’s quite rare that there are exceptions to this statement. Every now and then, I’ll encounter a child who is a terror but has an entirely remarkable teacher. This is usually a child who has an absent parent or parents, abuse, homelessness, or a similar situation. While I seldom see this type of student, he or she will demand and receive special love and attention from me.

In most other cases, when I see undisciplined students, the full-time teacher is either apathetic or inept and I see it in the attitudes of their class. Yesterday was a perfect example.

Most days I have one class per day or half day. Because of teacher meetings yesterday, I had a total of six classes and going from one to the next was the experience of going from a cyclone to a warm spring day. In the first case, the teacher’s classroom was messy and disorganized. Her notes to me were scant and not very helpful. Accordingly, many students in the class were rude, disrespectful, and unpleasant.

From there, I went to a class led by a gentleman who is kind, focused, and thorough. And the class was polite, fun, respectful, and eager to engage in conversation.

Somewhere and somehow, this must be an accurate representation of life outside the classroom. Of course, there are some messy teachers who are kind and dedicated. There are also some who are well-organized tyrants.

Many work environments, most likely, fall into the same types of patterns as my classrooms. Good managers generally have dedicated and happy employees while the despots are often going to have the employees who are sour and unappreciated.  It’s a good possibility that parenting has similar patterns. And so it goes, when I am fortunate enough to meet the parents of a special child, they are usually just as special. Shalom.

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