When I was a sub I never took jobs teaching Physical Education because I have no interest in sports and had been restricted from PE because of my severe asthma as a kid. And Middle Schoolers were my least favorite age group to work with.
But one morning the person who called from the sub office (that was before the automated systems) begged and pleaded with me me to accept a Middle School PE job because nobody else was available and they were desperate. She even promised me first choice of Kindergarten jobs the next day. With great misgivings I agreed.
To make things even worse, the kids were doing soccer. When I was a kid soccer was something we read about in Social Studies because nobody in America played it so I didn't even know the basic rules. What could have been worse?
Every period I told the kids I knew nothing about sports, but the purpose of PE was to help them stay physically fit, so as long as they kept moving I'd be happy. I had them run around the track, as they always did, then brought out bags of basketballs and had them shoot baskets. I managed to get through the day without any serious problems, but still felt like a failure when I signed out.
A week or so later a friend of my daughter who had been in one of those PE teachers was at our house.
"Mrs. Collins," she told me, "You were the best substitute teacher we ever had in PE."
"That's impossible!" I replied. "I told you all I didn't have the faintest idea what I was doing.'
"That's why you were so good," she answered. "All the other subs tried to pretend they knew all about sports when they really didn't. You were the only one who was ever honest with us."
That was a compliment I'll never forget.