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

Cisco Fernandez, of Phoenix, Ariz., shares what it has been like for him to work instead instructor throughout the omicron wave for our collection “Outbreak Voices.”


Cisco Fernandez is aware of the way to assist grade college college students perk up on the finish of a college 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 tune, “We Do not Discuss About Bruno.”


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

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

FERNANDEZ: I’ve at all times like to provide again in some way, and I really feel like educating is me giving again proper now.

SIMON: Cisco Fernandez needs to be an actor. He was searching for versatile work choices when a good friend mentioned colleges wanted substitute lecturers. He started to fill in throughout the delta wave, proper earlier than the omicron surge.

FERNANDEZ: I might positively see why lecturers who had been older have reservations about moving into. I used to be within the classroom as soon as the place one pupil 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 keep in mind the directors had been – they had been freaked out about, you realize, 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, in fact I am coming again as a result of I used to be like, effectively, if I do not come again, who’s going to be with the children?


FERNANDEZ: Although lecturers are calling out, they’re positively placing of their half. Nearly all of them have a lesson plan, and I feel that is wonderful. You realize, I simply go based mostly on the checklist that they offer me. However what I do is once I discover – like, for instance, for second grade or third grade – if we have now a math worksheet, after which I discover that there is greater than three or 5 college students fighting an issue, I’ll simply make up straightforward math issues, and we’ll go over it one after the other. You realize, we’ll rely on our fingers as a category simply because I really feel like youngsters 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, totally different employees members simply sporting totally different hats every single day to ensure that the scholars are getting an grownup within the room. And I’ve additionally heard individuals say, effectively, at this level, we’re simply on survival mode. Youngsters deserve greater than that.


FERNANDEZ: There’s been a few occasions the place I first began, I might get somewhat pissed off on the dad and mom and I assumed to myself, effectively, why aren’t the dad and mom tremendous concerned? However then I’ve to step again and notice these are low-income neighborhoods. I grew up in a low-income neighborhood. My mother and pop did not know English, so in fact 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 noticed that lots of these youngsters come from the background that I got here from. And I do not assume that their dad and mom aren’t serving to them, not as a result of they do not need to, nevertheless it’s as a result of they’ve to offer 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 college. The colleges look lots nicer now than they did earlier than, and I simply allow them to know like, hey, I used to be capable of – I used to be capable of work right here. And if I might do it, you are able to do it, too. I additionally communicate Spanish, after which I allow them to know, you realize, my mother cleans homes. My dad works at a restaurant. After which youngsters often say, oh, my mother does one thing like that, too, or my dad does one thing like that, too.

I feel as a result of they see me and the way I look Mexican American, lots of them are like, hey, you could possibly be my cousin or my uncle, you realize? So it is far more approachable.


FERNANDEZ: I might positively advocate substitute educating, however I might solely advocate it if you happen to’re in it for the correct causes. As a instructor, you need to take care of youngsters’ mood tantrums. And there was one time the place a child threw the hugest mood tantrum, and I actually did not know the 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 someplace else, get a company job. However then, you realize, when all these ideas go away, you get these notes from the children saying the way you’re the perfect instructor ever or they’d the perfect day ever. I am like, I am the place I am imagined to be proper now.


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

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