THE BLOG
09/22/2011 10:33 am ET Updated Nov 22, 2011

Race to the Top: In the Classroom, the Fastest Reflexes Get the Teaching Job

From Shore News Today, New Jersey, August 23, 2011

When jobs were plentiful, available substitute teachers were a rare commodity. ... not anymore. It's a buyer's market today as a struggling economy and high unemployment create a surplus of available substitutes. ...

"It's a free-for-all at 5 a.m., whenever the call from a teacher comes in and the availability gets posted," said Laurie Ryan, a school district administrator. Those with the fastest reflexes get the job.

FADE IN

INT- COMMUNITY COLLEGE LECTURE ROOM- MORNING

A female instructor, who possesses the tirelessly, cheerful attitude of K-12 teachers, leads a class of 53 adults. Around the perimeter, an obstacle course. A large banner hangs over a coffee area that reads, "Substitute Teacher Training: From Fired to Hired! Crush the Competition!"

INSTRUCTOR

Teaching is one of our nation's most important jobs AND someone like you, with only a day's training, can do it. That's a Venn diagram joke.

ANTHONY WEINER

Can I go to the bathroom?

INSTRUCTOR

It's may I, not can I, Anthony. The hall pass is on the blackboard ledge, dear. Where was I. ... oh yes. You're going up against the housewife who's a child whisperer, the retired teacher who can name all the colors in Crayola's 64-count classic set.

She walks up and down the aisles, handing out two, five-pound weights to each participant.

We're going to tie these to our wrists and practice logging into our computers. When it's 5 a.m. and we do the same motion without the weights, we'll be quicker than the competition. The competition may be enormous, but ...

CHARLIE SHEEN

(under his breath)

You have an enormous butt.

Unkempt, bearded man high fives him.

INSTRUCTOR

Class, this is a teaching moment. When you teach, ignore bad behavior and praise good behavior. Does anyone know what I'm holding?

KATE GOSSELIN

An eraser?

INSTRUCTOR

Wrong! It's a magic eraser. No one can talk unless he or she is holding the magic eraser. One. You raise your hand. Two. I toss you the eraser. Three. You ask your question.

Now, let's all open our yellow orientation folders to the section "Ineffective School Firewalls: Another way you can land your ass in jail."

A manicured, male hand raises, catches the eraser.

FORMER BANK OF AMERICA WEALTH MANAGER

I hate children. I just need the money to pay my goddam slip fee.

INSTRUCTOR

I hate children. I just need the money to pay my goddam slip fee is not a question, people. Raise your hand only if you are in the superset who have questions and! and! the questions pertain to substitute teaching. Toss that eraser back, sir.

Woman nervously taps pen, raises hand, and catches eraser on her forehead.

THAT NICE GAL WHO WORKED AT THE LOCAL BORDER'S CAFÉ

What can I expect to earn?

INSTRUCTOR

Class, another teaching moment. Keeping your sense of humor is crucial in times like this. That was lovely. Just lovely.

CHARLIE SHEEN

(under his breath)

Your butt is just lovely.

Unkempt, bearded man high fives him.

INSTRUCTOR

Class, please note how I'm ignoring bad behavior. Now, each lesson plan is different, like a snowflake, but...

CHARLIE SHEEN

(giggling)

Each butt is like a snowflake.

INSTRUCTOR

(coming unglued)

I don't want to hear another PEEP out of you, Charlie! ... Where was I? ... snowflakes... lesson plan... oh yes, the lesson plan. It will guide you on what to teach. In this example, you would teach the difference between Spartans and Athenians in a history lesson, and conduct a science lesson on plate tectonics in the afternoon.

VARIOUS FALLEN CEOs

(panicking)

But I don't know anything about any of those things!... How do you work an overhead?... Can I just teach economics?

CHARLIE SHEEN

PEEP!

INSTRUCTOR

Recess! Go play dodge ball for 20 minutes and sharpen those reflexes.

FADE IN

INT- CORPORATE BOARDROOM-LATE AFTERNOON

INSTRUCTOR

Any questions before we close? Anyone? ... Kate.

KATE GOSSELIN

What do I need to, like, know?

INSTRUCTOR

How to discipline kids. How to manage a classroom. How to understand the expectations of the regular classroom teacher. How to address special education concerns. How to get children safely on the right buses. How to create emergency lesson plans. How to handle common pediatric health and safety issues such as seizures, asthma, diabetic reactions, severe allergic reactions, teeth falling out and bloody noses. And finally, what to do if we're exposed to significant amounts of vomitus, contaminated blood, urine, feces, tears, human bites, and perspiration.

We have time for one last question. ... I like the way the gentleman in the back is raising his hand.

FORMER BANK OF AMERICA WEALTH MANAGER

I wasn't raising my hand. I was performing the universal pantomime of hanging ones self.

Weiner returns from bathroom and tosses hall pass onto blackboard ledge as a bell rings.
Instructor walks around classroom, handing out certificates of completion.

INSTRUCTOR

Remember, education can change the world. Godspeed to you in this buyer's market.

CAROL BARTZ

(sarcastically)

Yahoo.

FADE OUT