When I substitute for teachers, I love to look around their rooms and learn from the information displayed on bulletin boards and models, magazines and textbooks. I learn so much this way. However, when I substitute for the human biology teacher at the high school, I try not to notice anything in the room.
There are reasons why I took chemistry in college. I firmly believe that the Lord put skin or an outer covering over the bodies of the creatures he made for a reason. Yes, it is to protect the body from infection, but also to cover the icky parts so that we do not have to see them if we don’t want to. I admire medical people. They are saints in my book. Mothers, too. My five children have displayed more than enough red stuff for my liking. I do not wish to see what the good Lord so graciously covers up for us more squeamish people.
I am rarely called on to substitute for this teacher, but when I do, I enter the room with trepidation. The teacher prefers the real to the plastic in most things, and she changes her displays with the curriculum, except for the real human skeleton that hangs in the front of the room. I remember scrutinizing it the first day of my science class substituting. It looks more brown beige than the yellow white plastic ones most teachers display, and it hangs loosely, threaded together with eye hooks and wire. That’s when the students told me it was a real skeleton. As I backed away from the skeleton, the students delighted in showing me the real cow fetuses in various stages, the pigs’ brains, and the sheep stomachs in the classroom. All these biological parts of the anatomy sealed in glass boxes of formaldehyde solutions are like a treasure to the class and, I’m sure, the teacher. But to me, they are the icky parts that the Lord conceals with skin so that we do not have to look at them.
When I substituted for the biology teacher this time, I knew to look at the floor as I walked to the front of the classroom. I said hello to the students without lifting my head and went straight to the teacher’s desk to view the plans for the day. I screamed and the students wanted to know what the problem was. The problem was that a complete forearm; okay, the radius and the ulna together with all the metacarpals, was sitting on top of the plans. The real forearm of the real skeleton. I guess it must have fallen off. It was only held on by wire, remember.
A male student came and took it away so that I could get to the plans, but then he started playing with it, stuffing it into his sweatshirt sleeve and raising it as his hand to ask questions.
“I understand that everyone can use an extra hand once in a while,” I informed him, “but if you break the skeletal forearm, the teacher will use yours to replace it.”
He immediately returned the forearm to my desk.
“Not on the desk!” I screeched. “Put it on the side lab table toward the back!”
Now for the day’s plans. I usually assist students with any documentary video sheets; however, in biology…let’s just say it is extremely difficult. I try not to watch. Only listen to try and catch the answers on the worksheet. As long as the students are actively engaged with the video, we work together and I stop the video early, marking the time on my substitute report for the teacher, and we as a class discuss the video and answer questions. I must say, I do learn a lot this way.