Picture this: 27 kids, somewhere around 11 years old, in costumes and make-up, who have spent an hour in the gym playing Hallowe'en games (including those gross-out favourites in which you deliberately stick your hand in cold spaghetti labelled "Intestines"), all excited about Trick-or-Treating to come. They have all (and I mean ALL) brought in candy from home - more candy than my kids collected on their rounds last night. Presumably, the parental thinking behind this was that their particular child could share with classmates - but since every other kid's parents thought the same thing, each kid has a massive bag of sugar to munch on steadily over the course of the day.
Final ingredient: a substitute teacher. Namely, me.
Oh, and did I mention that their regular teacher left me to assign them 3 pages of math homework due the next day? You don't understand the concept of "plaintive" until you've heard a chorus of kids shouting "but Miss, it's Hallowe'en!"
But I survived! And from what I hear from the other teachers, and from my aunt, who has been teaching elementary school for, like, ever, Hallowe'en is scary even if you're not the substitute. So, if I can get through October 31st, I can handle just about any other day.
My day started at 10:10, although I showed up about an hour beforehand to fill out the requisite forms for the school board files (scariest part of Hallowe'en? Starting the day with forms in one's second language from the federal and provincial tax people). The teacher I was replacing left a very complete set of instructions, so it was relatively easy to get through the various classes. I started in the gym, helping to supervise the activities mentioned above. Then I "helped" the 2nd Grade teacher (in other words, sat in the class while she corrected their homework with them).
It was only well after 11 a.m. that I finally met "my" class, for a half hour Religion class. Nothing too complex or oppressive, they were working on artwork they made for an anti-violence campaign. After lunch, I helped in the Kindergarten class for an hour, which was fun. The teacher had a great activity - she had a huge pumpkin on lots and lots of the brown paper that no kindergarten class should be without. The kids sat around the pumpkin and took turns pulling out the seeds and pumpkin guts. Then they had to guess how many seeds there were, and then count them all. It was great! Some of the kids were right in there, digging away, and others were squeamish, but not for long. There were 153 seeds.
Finally, I ended the day with the infamous math assignment with the Grade 6 class. We managed to do about half the assignment in class, so they didn't have quite so much homework. Plus I totally blamed their regular teacher for the homework. I definitely do not want to teach at this level on a permanent basis, but it's kinda fun to be in that environment once in a while. And the kids were not bad - one boy gave me some of his candy, a girl took my picture (brought the camera for Hallowe'en, I assume) and (this is the part that makes me happiest) the one boy that the other teachers warned me about (and I mean, low whispers in the hallway, sinister type warnings) was an angel.