A substitute teacher brings joy and relatability in a tumultuous time : NPR


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Cisco Fernandez, of Phoenix, Ariz., shares what it has been like for him to work as an alternative instructor through the omicron wave for our sequence “Outbreak Voices.”


Cisco Fernandez is aware of the best way to assist grade faculty college students perk up on the finish of a faculty day.


CAROLINA GAITAN: (As Pepa, singing) He floods my mind.

MAURO CASTILLO: (As Felix, singing) Abuela, get the umbrellas.

GAITAN: (As Pepa, singing) Married in a hurricane.

CISCO FERNANDEZ: All of them love “Encanto.” Like, they love that music, “We Do not Discuss About Bruno.”


CAROLINA GAITAN AND MAURO CASTILLO: (As Pepa and Felix, singing) We do not speak about Bruno, no, no, no. We do not speak about Bruno.

SIMON: Nicely, we’re not speaking about Bruno, however about Cisco Fernandez, a first-time substitute instructor in lecture rooms round Phoenix, Ariz.

FERNANDEZ: I’ve at all times like to present again one way or the other, and I really feel like educating is me giving again proper now.

SIMON: Cisco Fernandez desires to be an actor. He was searching for versatile work choices when a buddy stated faculties wanted substitute lecturers. He started to fill in through the delta wave, proper earlier than the omicron surge.

FERNANDEZ: I may undoubtedly see why lecturers who have been older have reservations about moving into. I used to be within the classroom as soon as the place one scholar acquired COVID and half the category needed to go quarantine, so I used to be solely left with, like, six college students and it was a category of twenty-two. And I bear in mind the directors have been – they have been freaked out about, , the outbreak. However then in addition they requested me, would you be OK with coming again? And I did not even hesitate to say, like, yeah, after all I am coming again as a result of I used to be like, properly, if I do not come again, who’s going to be with the youngsters?


FERNANDEZ: Although lecturers are calling out, they’re undoubtedly placing of their half. Nearly all of them have a lesson plan, and I believe that is superb. You realize, I simply go primarily based on the checklist that they provide me. However what I do is after I discover – like, for instance, for second grade or third grade – if now we have a math worksheet, after which I discover that there is greater than three or 5 college students battling an issue, I’ll simply make up straightforward math issues, and we’ll go over it one after the other. You realize, we’ll depend on our fingers as a category simply because I really feel like children want that human interplay.

I’ve seen vice principals, principals work the entrance desk, after which I’ve additionally seen them go in lessons and act as lecturers, completely different employees members simply sporting completely different hats day-after-day to guarantee that the scholars are getting an grownup within the room. And I’ve additionally heard folks say, properly, at this level, we’re simply on survival mode. Children deserve greater than that.


FERNANDEZ: There’s been a few occasions the place I first began, I might get a little bit pissed off on the dad and mom and I assumed to myself, properly, why aren’t the dad and mom tremendous concerned? However then I’ve to step again and understand these are low-income neighborhoods. I grew up in a low-income neighborhood. My mother and pa did not know English, so after all they weren’t going to learn with me or do math with me. And on high of that, my dad and mom at all times did labor jobs. So I spotted that numerous these children come from the background that I got here from. And I do not assume that their dad and mom usually are not serving to them, not as a result of they do not wish to, but it surely’s as a result of they’ve to supply for the family.

Each time I’m going to the colleges that I grew up in, I at all times inform them, hey, I truly went to this faculty. The faculties look loads nicer now than they did earlier than, and I simply allow them to know like, hey, I used to be in a position to – I used to be in a position to work right here. And if I may do it, you are able to do it, too. I additionally communicate Spanish, after which I allow them to know, , my mother cleans homes. My dad works at a restaurant. After which children often say, oh, my mother does one thing like that, too, or my dad does one thing like that, too.

I believe as a result of they see me and the way I look Mexican American, numerous them are like, hey, you can be my cousin or my uncle, ? So it is rather more approachable.


FERNANDEZ: I might undoubtedly advocate substitute educating, however I might solely advocate it for those who’re in it for the suitable causes. As a instructor, you need to cope with children’ mood tantrums. And there was one time the place a child threw the hugest mood tantrum, and I actually did not know the best way to de-escalate it. So I needed to get two lecturers to assist me, and I felt so embarrassed? And I used to be pondering, like, what am I doing? Perhaps I ought to go some other place, get a company job. However then, , when all these ideas go away, you get these notes from the youngsters saying the way you’re one of the best instructor ever or they’d one of the best day ever. I am like, I am the place I am speculated to be proper now.


SIMON: Cisco Fernandez of Phoenix sharing his story for our sequence Outbreak Voices.

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