In substitute teaching over the past few years, I’ve run into a multitude of issues in the classroom.  A few are my own fault, ways I’ve placed myself in a situation where it is impossible to succeed as a Professional Seat Filler.  In the billion other cases, it’s the students fault.  Hands down.  They would condemn themselves too, if you asked them.  Having a substitute teacher is like getting a free baseball to throw at a dunk tank.  You’re going to do it.  You’re probably going to miss, because you haven’t thrown a ball in years, but you have to try.  Every once in a while, after 130 baseballs are thrown during the school day, one of them is going to hit.

And that substitute teacher is going to get dropped in the freezing water of regret, weakness and the drowning promise of child mischief.

With that said, I’ve wrote a set of 16 rules to incorporate into the classroom.  Remember: every rule has a story!  There are seldom cases of a rule preventing an original accident.

If you are a substitute teacher, feel free to use them.  If you are not, feel free to read them and feel sorry for me and other substitute teachers.


  1. Hair should be kept on your head. No pulling hair out of your own, or others.  It should be stationary and one should refrain from whipping it back and forth.  Furthermore, students should refrain from narrating this action of ‘whipping their hair back and forth’ for the whole class to hear.
  2. When saying farewell to Felecia, it is unnecessary to shout it in class while I am trying to teach a poorly planned lesson in on English contractions. Furthermore, your parents shouldn’t be letting you watch R rated movies featuring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.
  3. When ignoring the rule of texting in class and doing it anyway, please text below your desk or somewhere not in plain sight; stupidity elicits a response from me.
  4. If you have a dull pencil and need to sharpen it, please refrain from using the pencil sharpener that’s powered by the engine of a donated Boeing 747. I’d rather sharpen it with my teeth than feel what it’s like to be on the tarmac of an airport.
  5. Don’t kill each other in my presence.
  6. No whipping. No neigh, neighing.  It is absolutely against the rules to command others to let you do both, especially now.  Doing them in that order is irrevocably, unequivocally against the rules.  If you accompany either of those actions with a stupid dance, I will be forced to judge you.  Internally, of course.
  7. “Fart poop” is not an appropriate answer.
  8. When doing arts and crafts, please refrain from throwing supplies across the room and/or getting staining materials on yours or others clothes. If unavoidable, please provide me with tissue and be ready to console me as I mourn what my life has become.
  9. I will answer almost anything you address me as, as long as it’s appropriate. “Oompa Loompa” is not an appropriate name.
  10. Chairs are for sitting, not weapons.
  11. The goal for noise level is somewhere between a skittering mouse and a cow chewing cud. For reference, the “Little Boy” atomic bomb explosion is louder than a cow chewing cud, and when I make that reference I am not commending you for your quiet behavior.
  12. Raise your hand when you need to go to the bathroom. When I tell you that you, “Don’t need to go and are just trying to get out of doing work” the appropriate response is belabored moaning, slouched posture and free hanging arms.  Rolling eyes should be the cherry on top.  “This is fucking bullshit” is not an appropriate response.
  13. The quiet signal is meant to get you quiet the first time you hear it, not the seventh.
  14. Just because I’m talking to the class doesn’t mean you need to as well.
  15. Yes, I am 27. Yes, my hair has gel in it.  No, you can’t touch it.  Yes, you have to do this work.  No, I don’t believe you that your teacher said you didn’t have to do it.
  16. No, you can’t go to the bathroom.