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OneGreatSub's Message:

old and out of it, I'd say that too many kids today are a different breed than those I grew up with because no one disciplines them -- not parents, not teachers, not anyone. We had some respect for authority and would never have treated an adult, any adult, in the way you described because our behinds would have been red as a result. I've served as an aide in too many classrooms where the teacher politely addressed the students as "friends" while they ran around completely ignoring her. While I would never condone physically harming a student, I do believe lack of consequences for just about any poor behavior has led to a situation where classroom decorum and learning are the last thing on students' minds and just keeping some semblance of order is a big challenge for the teacher. The district where I sub compounds the problem in the elementary grades by setting up freeform classrooms where kids can sit on bouncy balls if they want to. The pendulum has swung so far in the direction of "anything goes" that it's almost impossible to get schools back on track toward fulfilling their educational mission. Sorry your experience has been so negative, but it's simply the way of the world these days. Subbing is increasingly not for the feint of heart. That's for sure. My one suggestion would be to try accepting some middle school assignments. The bell schedule means different classes throughout the day and more variety. I find elementary too exhausting and high school too much like babysitting. You never get to actually teach anything and teenagers can be incredibly rude. Just my opinion.

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
artladyhere 12-12-2018 06:00 PM

Try middle school. I used to teach 4th grade and I was so exhausted subbing the lower grades! I am rarely tired when subbing middle school. And we switch classes every 50 minutes, so if I have a bad class, I can still handle whatever time is left and then they're off to a different class.

MaineSub 12-02-2018 03:53 AM

OneGreatSub, I'll bet I'm older than you. And I mostly agree with you. I recently listened to a great presentation about millennials and the challenges "older" generations face trying to work with them. It included a great quote: "You can't microwave emotional intelligence." These kids that come to us often lack it, have few social skills, and are beyond unmotivated. Teachers are having enough trouble with it... when we (subs) show up for one day we need to be realistic about how much impact we are going to have.

Along the same lines, a recent article questioned whether or not attention spans are decreasing in children. The conclusion was they are not, but today's kids are learning very differently and too often our teaching doesn't change.

Subbing has always been demanding and exhausting for me (remember, I'm old!), but I find it's getting more so--for many of the reason you've cited. Most of my energy used to go into teaching and protecting the kids... something that isn't getting any easier. But now I find more going into protecting myself. (CYA) I'd certainly agree, subbing is not for the feint of heart.

But the two words I say to myself most often are "There's hope." I may not be around for it, but I also believe the pendulum will swing back eventually. I recently heard a third grader make an unsolicited but passionate speech about working together to make the world a better place. She gave examples of how she tries so it was clear she wasn't just repeating something she'd heard.

Those are the kids I look for... not to show favoritism but both to keep myself encouraged and to reward and support them. When I say, "We need to realistic about how much impact..." I also know that we have a huge impact but it's typically one kid at a time. I've decided that's how we are going to change the world--one kid at a time.

There's hope but we have to look hard to find it.

OneGreatSub 12-01-2018 02:00 PM

old and out of it, I'd say that too many kids today are a different breed than those I grew up with because no one disciplines them -- not parents, not teachers, not anyone. We had some respect for authority and would never have treated an adult, any adult, in the way you described because our behinds would have been red as a result. I've served as an aide in too many classrooms where the teacher politely addressed the students as "friends" while they ran around completely ignoring her. While I would never condone physically harming a student, I do believe lack of consequences for just about any poor behavior has led to a situation where classroom decorum and learning are the last thing on students' minds and just keeping some semblance of order is a big challenge for the teacher. The district where I sub compounds the problem in the elementary grades by setting up freeform classrooms where kids can sit on bouncy balls if they want to. The pendulum has swung so far in the direction of "anything goes" that it's almost impossible to get schools back on track toward fulfilling their educational mission. Sorry your experience has been so negative, but it's simply the way of the world these days. Subbing is increasingly not for the feint of heart. That's for sure. My one suggestion would be to try accepting some middle school assignments. The bell schedule means different classes throughout the day and more variety. I find elementary too exhausting and high school too much like babysitting. You never get to actually teach anything and teenagers can be incredibly rude. Just my opinion.

luv2teach2017 11-16-2018 09:24 AM

Each of us finds our own niche eventually. I tried middle and high school and immediately hated it! The kids can be rude, surly, and cruel. They are constantly on their cell phones and treat subs like garbage because there's no respect and no discipline. Even worse, it's boring because too often you're just a babysitter while the students do busy work.

On the other hand, I love teaching K-4th because the children are still eager to learn and generally want to please their teachers. I get to know and bond with the class and actually teach a variety of subjects, from reading to writing to math to science to social studies.

That said, you DO have to master classroom management to succeed with the little ones. Over time, I've developed some effective techniques and strategies. Most importantly, I set a firm tone from the moment they walk in the door. I establish the rules of conduct and rewards/penalties. I use team points and a "star" list and reward positive behavior. I also penalize disruptive behavior by taking away that student's privileges or recess time. Once I set down the rules and tone and follow through with what I say, the kids fall into line right away. If there's a troublemaker (usually one), they are easy enough to handle when you have the others in sync. Like MaineSub, I seldom need to send anyone to the office any more.

I happen to enjoy the classroom management aspect of teaching the younger ones. But it can be labor intensive and not everyone's cup of tea. My advice would be to try out different grades to see what is the best fit for you. Also, brush up on and improve your classroom management skills. It will serve you well.

MaineSub 11-16-2018 05:41 AM

Personally, I love and prefer elementary but that's a different topic.

The examples cited are some extreme behaviors and I wonder what the "normal" culture and atmosphere of the school is like... if you're fighting the normal behavior and attitudes, it will be a difficult battle to win.

That said, one important thought is "Don't beg." As you've discovered, it doesn't work and, more importantly, sends a message to the student(s) that they are in control. Along with that, I'd add "get tough."

"What would you do if I stabbed you with scissors?" I might have responded, "The more important question is 'What will happen to you if you do?'" An eight/ nine-year-old should not be able to put you on the defensive. Alternatively, I might have confronted him/her with the consequences of making a threat.

"If you give them an inch, they'll take a mile" is very true. Another often cited truism "Show no fear." I've told kids, "You can't embarrass me, but you can embarrass yourselves." Believe me, I hate being seen having an unruly or noisy line the kids can't know that. The little guys will often try to please you, but the older they less they care about that. Our job is to teach them to manage themselves.

I always try to give kids options so they have a degree of freedom. "You can stay in the hall as long as you remain in sight. Or you can join us in the classroom while we..." The options are non-negotiable. If the student doesn't enter the classroom I'd watch him/her out of the corner of my eye... if he moves an inch in the wrong direction I'd remind him "that's not an option." The joke's on him, not you. If someone questions why he's standing in the hall, I'd share that he seems to be having difficulty making good decisions today.

Personally, I avoid calling the office and/or sending a kid to the office. My attitude is "I'm here to teach, you're here to learn. We can't do that if you're not in the room." I've actually leveraged that with the kids. "I've never sent a kid to the office (true statement) but you are about to become the first. I'm happy to give up my record for you. So you have a very important decision to make."

I hope it's apparent that it's less about the words you say and more about the demeanor and attitude you maintain. I recently got in a fifth grader's face and said calmly but sternly, "Are you sure you want to have this argument with me? Think about it. I'm the teacher. You're the student. Who do you think is going to win?"

One last point... if there's just one student doing what you want he or she gets the attention and the attention becomes the reward. With younger kids, it is like herding cats. You get 2-3 in line and start chasing the others, the 2 or three will disappear. If I have a trusted line leader, I often walk at the end of the line, not the front after giving the line leader an instruction "When you get to (landmark), stop." Then I move up the line, give the next instruction and off they go.

subasaurus 11-16-2018 12:56 AM

Totally.

Elementary is exhausting.

The kids switch assignments and activities every 45 minutes or so.

No down time.

You literally follow the kids everywhere, with no time to yourself to catch your breath.

Plus crying and whining abounds.

They can be fun and give you a laugh, but my God, I don't know how people survive that kind of environment. Particularly as a sub!

I'm always afraid I'll lose a kid amongst the chaos. Middle and high school only for me.

Subbing is hard enough as it is, I don't want to have to worry about making sure 30 children don't miss their buses. I'm nervous just thinking about it.

Far too much liability and pressure with the little kids.

PS: Regarding high school block scheduling... I want to know what knuckle-head thought that was a good idea. Makes the classes WAY too long.

dietcoke99 11-15-2018 09:19 PM

I TOTALLY agree with fractured.

I ONLY sub for high school. I tell the students that I like to be with "students," not "children."

I relate to them much more, and I think they relate to me much more.

I would at least TRY the higher grades, I know I wouldn't do anything else.

I can't even imagine having the same students for the entire day (I did sub for a bit in elementary, but it was probably 15 years ago).

With the advent of block scheduling, it is longer than it used to be, but if you have a bad class, or whatever, you get a new class the next period and can start over again.

It boggles my mind all of the stuff that elementary teachers have to deal with that I hear about on here - how they get home? Helicopter parents? (doesn't happen in high school b/c the LAST thing a student wants is to have their parent at school). I used to want my mother to drop me off a block away from the school

Fractured 11-15-2018 05:26 PM

Those sound like the classses from hell. I won't even sub for 6th grade anymore if I can avoid it. I would suggest trying older grades, I usually stick to high school. They are surly and everything and sometimes have an attitude, but no one asks me bs questions like that one kid with the scissors. Probably best to just ignore questions like that and keep going forward. I know some people on here prefer Elementary, but it sounds like the most stressed out people come from that area. If a kid in ms or Hs is just giving me hell, I have the option to have him removed from the class.

PygmyTea 11-14-2018 07:38 PM

I recently started working as a substitute teacher for New York. I’ve been subbing for about 4-5 months. Lately I have been feeling on giving up on it and I’m not sure what to do anymore. I try everything and the students don’t listen no matter what school I go to. My very first day of subbing I was asked by a 3rd grader “What would you do if I stabbed you with scissors?” I was just beyond stunned and had nothing to really say besides “Okay let’s get back to Math.” This past week at a different school a 4th grader held a classroom chair above his head.. screaming in my face, while the classroom para sat there on her phone recording him to show to his parents, not helping at all.

Today, I hit my breaking point because this second grade class I had was just insane. I felt like such a failure because I couldn’t even get them to listen to me for more that 5 minutes. I was struggling to even have them on a line in the hallway and I just felt the judging eyes of all the classroom teachers around me as I’m basically begging a child to get in line because he was sliding down the wall, going down a different hallway and the class was late to lunch. Someone eventually helped but I only believe that it was because my class was being too loud in the hallway. I felt so terrible that I could not get this class to lunch, and on my way back to the room I just broke down crying.

These kids were very disrespectful and I l had to call down to the office because I had a child in the morning hang out in the doorway/hallway because he refused to come into the room looking at me like I was the biggest joke in the world. Anytime I sub here I have to call the office and sometimes it takes multiple phone calls to get any help. It could just be the schools I have been in but even in the “good schools” it is the same and it’s just disheartening. I try my very best because I want schools to know who I am so hopefully in the future they will keep me in mind for a position. I try to give the children respect every time I go into a new classroom and I don’t like raising my voice if I don’t have to. I just don’t know what to do anymore.




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