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Current Issue Table of Contents | Back Issues

MAY 2001
Volume 2 Number 5

Harry & Rosemary Wong offer advice on motivating your students. Tune in to this month's Gazette cover story and pick up tips from the experts to enhance your students' performance....
Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
Alfie Kohn Article
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
BCL Classroom by Kim Tracy
Around the Block With...
The Unsinkable Sub
Interview: Cheryl Sigmon
Role Of The Online Teacher
Browser Maintenance
Poetic License Information
Learning Improvement Tools
Mars Society Contest For Students
Book Review: Cloud Woman
Family Library Visit
Stellar Walk of Fame
Emotions of A Sight Impaired Child
SFA and Research
Poll: Do You Hoard Supplies?
Upcoming Ed Conferences
Humor from the Classroom
Letters to the Editor
New in the Lesson Bank
Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
Gazette Back Issues
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Margy Ferguson...
Margy Ferguson was born in Iowa, grew up in St. Louis, and has been married to a watercolor artist for 36 years. They live in Eastern Washington. After her two kids left the nest, she returned to college, graduating at the age of 51 in 1994 with a degree in Elementary Education. She has been subbing ever since, averaging 120/180 days a year, for which she is grateful. A 'career sub' by choice, she subs K-6, library, Title, Skill Center, PE, music, and even noon recess when they are desparate. She has been known to wear two different sneakers, just to see if anyone notices, and is famous in certain circles for her unique earrings.

She owns one inside cat, and is owned by two outside cats. She enjoys reading (anything but romance novels and slashers), watching old movies, sewing and daydreaming. A former Brownie leader, 4-H leader (rabbits), soccer and basketball mom, she loves working with kids, and often volunteers at school when she has a 'day off' from subbing. She plans to sub until "'s no fun anymore, or I'm 65, whichever comes first."

Email Margy Ferguson at

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Teacher Feature...
The (Usually) Unsinkable Sub (Part 3)
"Survivor" - the REAL one - a Reference List

by Margy Ferguson

Continued from April Gazette

Along with many of you, I have watched bits and pieces of those "Survivor" shows on TV. And, I bet, along with many of you, I have laughed my head off at the stupidity of the shows, and some of the people who are supposed to be 'surviving.' I have hurled snotty remarks, insults, and the occasional rolled-up sock (doesn't break the screen) at the mostly young, mostly buff, frequently fluff-brained people who don't mind appearing dumb as a box of rocks on national television.

Yes, I have scoffed at these 'survivors', because they don't have clue one as to the true meaning of the word.

Webster's New World Dictionary defines a 'survivor' as "someone capable of surviving changing conditions, misfortune, etc."

Hey, on those TV shows, 'changing conditions' means the wind is blowing, and 'misfortune' means an empty sunscreen bottle!

I double-dog-dare any of those wimps to substitute in elementary school for a week straight, in four different grade levels in five days. (HA! I knew it!! Don't see any hands raised, do ya?)

In the world of subbing, 'changing conditions' could be any of the following:

  • the sunny day turns to a downpour 5 min. before recess - three times that day

  • you come in prepared to sub in a 2nd grade and are told you've been switched to 6th

  • you come in prepared to sub in a 6th grade and are told you've been switched to P.E.

  • you come in prepared to sub in a 6th grade and are told you've been switched to P.E. and you are wearing heels and a skirt

  • the other same-grade teacher gets sick and has to go home and they can't find a sub for him, so they put all the kids in your room for the day (see also 'misfortune')

  • the music/PE teacher is sick and there's no sub, so there goes your prep time

"Misfortune" is when:

  • the class hamster croaks and one of the kids notices

  • there are no lesson plans - nothing - not even from the previous day

  • the worst kid in class comes to school all week

  • the VCR doesn't work

  • you left home in such a hurry that you forgot your lunch and are forced to eat Cook's Choice

  • there's an all-day, out-of-town field trip that wasn't mentioned when they called you to sub

  • the bathroom nearest your classroom is out of order

  • the copier doesn't work, either

  • there's an unannounced fire/tornado/hurricane/lockdown/monsoon/volcanic eruption drill

  • there's an unannounced fire/tornado/hurricane/lockdown/monsoon/volcanic eruption drill, and you can't lock the classroom door because subs don't have keys

  • the kid who ate a whole bag of gummy bears at lunch barfs on the floor and you can't get hold of the custodian

  • the pop machine in the teacher's lounge eats all your change and you still don't get that Pepsi

  • you have two classes in one room most of the day, but are told you are only being paid for one (see also 'changing conditions')

  • a bee flies into the room

  • you look at the clock and it's only 10:15

Taking all of this into account, I think most subs would agree that

    Survivor is when you are called at 7:45, school begins at 8:20, and you are there with 5 minutes to spare.

    Survivor is forming an alliance with the nearest teacher-you watch her kids so she can run to the bathroom, and vice-versa.

    Survivor is watching in disgust as a student eats a live worm on the playground, and there's no prize for doing so.

    Survivor is holding a pet snake without fainting.

    Survivor is popping in an educational video when you realize you don't understand the math assignment.

    Survivor is handing out M & M's to the kids who are NOT swinging from the lights because they've had 4 subs in 5 days, an entire week of indoor recess, and state-mandated testing for the past 3 days.

    Survivor is returning from that all-day, out-of-town field trip with all the kids, and all of them safe.

    Survivor is staying cool, calm and collected even though there is no TV camera on you.

    Survivor is grinning at the end of the day because you got through most of the plans, nobody got sick or hurt, and 4 kids said they wished you'd come back tomorrow.