Hello again! I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about this story, just because it was so ridiculous and crazy and well, that’s why I’m sharing it here.

I’ve taught in a ton of schools, worked with every grade, and with all different populations in Israel. The school that I sometimes substitute for is called The American School, or the Martin Buber Jerusalem American International School for short. It has kids from Kindergarten to 8th grade and really the kids are so sweet and also like, trilingual because they’re the kids of diplomats and stuff and just are very worldly and sweet.

Most of my experience has been in the middle school, and it’s pretty simple to sub, except that one day I had a double period of math and the kids would be like, what’s the answer? and I’d be like, it says the answer is 10x, and I have no idea why.

God, I hate math. Sorry, dad.

Anyway, this particular day I would be the Main Teacher for 3rd grade. The issue with that is you’re with the same class all day, and you have to teach all subjects. 3rd graders are pretty cute, but the 3rd grade had A Reputation that year. You know the class. The girls are catty. The boys love to steal a glue gun and suddenly everything’s sticky and the classroom is in chaos.

I arrive early, which as you know, is unusual for me. I had put in my contacts that day, because it’s annoying when you’re near-sighted to wear glasses and look closely at a student’s paper for mistakes; usually I just spend the day taking them on and off and it’s just a hassle. My contacts are brand new. But, as soon as I put them in my eyes, they are slightly uncomfortable. I shrug it off and head to school.

I arrive in the classroom and review the detailed lesson plans the usual teacher has left me. Everything is arranged perfectly. I am ready. Except as class started, my eyes start burning. Really bad. The kids file into the room, asking where their teacher is. My eyes are streaming at this point, as if I had poured hot sauce into them. “Hello,” I try to ignore the fact that I cannot see. “I’m your sub for today. Let’s get started!”

After 15 minutes, I realize I have to take my contacts out. I legitimately am in so much pain. Any early written warnings from the teacher (watch out for this kid, make sure this kid is on task) are totally out the window as I just struggle to function. When they have a break, I rush to the office and remove my contacts. My eyes are bright red. I look at myself in the mirror as I realize this is what I have to deal with for the rest of the day.

Here is a snippet of the tumultuous day:

It is art class. The kids are working on some kind of art thing that I don’t really understand. There is a glue gun. I guess I need to administer the glue gun because like, these kids are eight.

“I can do it myself,” a kid insisted.

I sighed, and agreed, as there were like 10 other kids I had to be supervising. (Thank god these are small classes).

Two kids are in a fight over who gets to use the good colored pencils.

“Look at me,” I say to a kid, who will just not relent.

“I don’t want to you, you look scary,” he said, which is totally legitimate as I have my eyes closed and tears streaming down my cheeks. “I know, but you have to share,” I say, wishing I could just remove my eyes.

Despite the class being horrible to manage, I get through the day. I have no idea how their main teacher creates order. I am also glad that, as a sub, I don’t have high expectations to get the work done.

After that, I have worn my glasses exclusively. And subbing for that class has been significantly easier since that day.

English teacher by trade, story writer for fun