I don’t know what happened back in the 19th-century, on those days when a teacher couldn’t teach. I imagine that if a parent could and would spare their time then they would substitute until the teacher returned or other arrangements could be made. I imagine though that being a country school teacher, as portrayed in the above Winslow Homer painting was a feat pretty akin to performing on the high wire, without a net. Fast-forward now to the 21st-century, where the one-room schoolhouse is more myth than reality. The lone teacher has been replaced by a team of professionals and if one teacher cannot make it to class, then a substitute teacher is sent in as a replacement.
When Anne became a sub and after she was fingerprinted, another modern invention, her typical day would begin with a phone call at 5 AM. I’ve always enjoyed these phone calls more than she ever did, first because I didn’t have to get up to answer the phone and whenever she awoke to one of these calls; it was always with such a tremendous start. She would sit bolt upright and then commence to toss bedclothes aside in an attempt to free herself in time to answer the phone, before it went to recorder.
Alas these pre-dawn summons have been reduced to a trickle. Like the one room country school teacher, they are going the way of the dodo bird. First the school district employed a sub scheduling system called Aesop. This industry standard online program posts substitute teaching assignments that can be accepted or rejected as seen fit and gives extensive details on each teaching positions. This interface makes it so much easier to respectfully decline the opportunity to have to deal with that middle school brat for the third day in a row. The biggest drawback of the Aesop system is competing for jobs. Often times, there are multiple substitute teachers all looking for the same job. This can lead to countless hours of refreshing web screens.
Have no fear though, because Aesop now offers Jobulator, a program to counter this problem, albeit at a small price. Jobulator is a subscription service that provides automatic, continuous checking and notification of any job offers in Aesop. Plus, easy job acceptance right from your phone. There are still 5 AM alerts, but instead of having to race to get to the land line in time, Anne just needs to find her iPhone and then click accept. There are no more shows of primal instinct in the dark when a new sub job arrives. This app uses a much more pleasing tone too. In fact it is too pleasing. It is the same tone that WordPress uses to notify me that a new comment has been made. I, rather we, have both been Pavlovian trained to appreciate this dulcet tone, because I always immediately share any comment with Anne, when we are together. I’m just a little miffed that its sweet sound has now been diluted by Jobulator.