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 as an alternative instructor through the omicron wave for our collection “Outbreak Voices.”


Cisco Fernandez is aware of learn how 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 Speak 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 lecture rooms round Phoenix, Ariz.

FERNANDEZ: I’ve all the time like to present again someway, 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 buddy mentioned faculties wanted substitute academics. He started to fill in through the delta wave, proper earlier than the omicron surge.

FERNANDEZ: I may undoubtedly see why academics who had been older have reservations about getting in. I used to be within the classroom as soon as the place one scholar bought 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 had been – they had been freaked out about, you already know, 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, effectively, if I do not come again, who’s going to be with the children?


FERNANDEZ: Regardless that academics are calling out, they’re undoubtedly placing of their half. The vast majority of them have a lesson plan, and I feel that is wonderful. You realize, I simply go based mostly on the record that they provide me. However what I do is after I discover – like, as an example, for second grade or third grade – if we’ve 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 simple 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 courses and act as academics, totally different workers members simply carrying totally different hats daily to guarantee 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. Children deserve greater than that.


FERNANDEZ: There’s been a few instances the place I first began, I would get a bit of annoyed on the mother and father and I assumed to myself, effectively, why aren’t the mother and father 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 pa did not know English, so after all they weren’t going to learn with me or do math with me. And on prime of that, my mother and father all the time did labor jobs. So I spotted that a variety of these children come from the background that I got here from. And I do not assume that their mother and father should 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 offer for the family.

Each time I’m going to the faculties that I grew up in, I all the time 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 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, you already 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 feel as a result of they see me and the way I look Mexican American, a variety of them are like, hey, you possibly can be my cousin or my uncle, you already know? So it is way more approachable.


FERNANDEZ: I might undoubtedly advocate substitute educating, however I might solely advocate it should you’re in it for the fitting causes. As a instructor, it’s important to cope with children’ mood tantrums. And there was one time the place a child threw the hugest mood tantrum, and I truthfully did not know learn how to de-escalate it. So I needed to get two academics to assist me, and I felt so embarrassed? And I used to be considering, like, what am I doing? Perhaps I ought to go some place else, get a company job. However then, you already know, when all these ideas go away, you get these notes from the children saying the way you’re the most effective instructor ever or that they had the most effective day ever. I am like, I am the place I am purported to be proper now.


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

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