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Fenwick's Message:

Your effectiveness as a disciplinarian will be determined by whatever you allow. This means any rule or procedure you announce, go over, teach review or practice is not reality as far as students are concerned. Reality for them is what you do about your rules and procedures. Students will want to know “Who are you?” So they watch. If a student calls out, and you decide to ignore it, students now know call outs are acceptable no matter what you discussed about taking turns and respecting others. Further more, you just answered “Who are you?” … a teacher who doesn’t mean what she says. Effective discipline has little to do with being heavy handed and a lot to do with consistency and follow through.

Sending a kid to the office is not a discipline skill. It’s an announcement. It’s a shout-out the teacher is incapable of handling the problem. This doesn’t mean a teacher should never write up a student. Some behaviors demand it. When you hear “… she sends misbehaving students to the office …” it’s a sign using the office is chronic. Any continuing discipline technique should be a red flag. Plus, the office can’t fix discipline problems for teachers. The student will be coming back to class. Then what? Send him/her again? So how much of a disciplinarian should you be? You will likely cover yourself when students are doing most of the work while you watch. You will know you have a ways to go when you are doing most of the work while students watch.

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
YayaSub 11-22-2021 08:39 PM

I'm curious why you dislike the term SPED since you're ok with Special Education. Does it have a different connotation?

Fenwick 11-20-2021 02:43 PM

Your effectiveness as a disciplinarian will be determined by whatever you allow. This means any rule or procedure you announce, go over, teach review or practice is not reality as far as students are concerned. Reality for them is what you do about your rules and procedures. Students will want to know “Who are you?” So they watch. If a student calls out, and you decide to ignore it, students now know call outs are acceptable no matter what you discussed about taking turns and respecting others. Further more, you just answered “Who are you?” … a teacher who doesn’t mean what she says. Effective discipline has little to do with being heavy handed and a lot to do with consistency and follow through.

Sending a kid to the office is not a discipline skill. It’s an announcement. It’s a shout-out the teacher is incapable of handling the problem. This doesn’t mean a teacher should never write up a student. Some behaviors demand it. When you hear “… she sends misbehaving students to the office …” it’s a sign using the office is chronic. Any continuing discipline technique should be a red flag. Plus, the office can’t fix discipline problems for teachers. The student will be coming back to class. Then what? Send him/her again? So how much of a disciplinarian should you be? You will likely cover yourself when students are doing most of the work while you watch. You will know you have a ways to go when you are doing most of the work while students watch.

Aillya 11-19-2021 01:58 PM

Ask for access to their IEPs. Each of your students should have a folder with all their information in it about accommodations and things like that. It'll help you be a more effective educator for them if you know what's going on with them. For example, if a student has a vision disability or something, it'll say that in his file and you'll know not to put him in the back row. Or in a more extreme instance, I once subbed in for a Resource class that had a student who wasn't comfortable being close to adults. Nobody told me this, and when I approached her desk to help her with something, she began freaking out and I had no idea why until a student informed me. Don't be in that position. Admin love to leave us in the dark on important stuff like this, don't let it happen to you.

Only other thing I'd add is just... good luck. Being dropped into a math class in the middle of the year and knowing the main teacher has issues with them and has to bribe them with candy, just all of that on top of the natural difficulties of reaching students in a special education environment who are probably all at radically different levels of academic readiness... it sounds daunting, to say the least. Definitely not something I'd have accepted, so kudos to you I guess. Definitely reach out for help from other people in your department or from administrators. Don't let them make you feel like a burden for doing this; I seriously doubt there's any sub in the district who'd take a job like this, so they definitely need you more than you need them and they absolutely should provide you with the support you'll need to be successful.

SubHuman 11-18-2021 07:05 PM

This is my first visit to this forum in a while, probably because I haven't been subbing much lately, but I did today! Please take my comments in the spirit in which I give them, ie I am trying to help. I don't know what the current politically correct language is, but I personally don't like to hear or see "SPED" for Special Education. I have a son who was "classified" and spent his entire school career through High School in Special Education. Classified or Special Ed is how we referred to it. Here and now they are "Exceptional Children". Anyway, subbing for EC is one of the things I am afraid to do! I would (and will) try to sub for an aid in an EC class as long as there is an experienced teacher in the room, but handling a class on my own is a very intimidating prospect. Having said that, there are all degrees and all types of kids that are included under the banner of "classified" or special education. Some might be behavioral problems, others could have processing issues that make learning math very difficult. Special Ed teachers are typically trained in that area. All kids learn in different ways, but I think those differences could be more pronounced in a Special Ed classroom. Teachers are trained to teach to different learning styles. I only tried subbing in the middle school once and the kids were great but just too wild for me to control. I stay mostly in the high school. I think you are embarking on a very difficult job! I think you would be wise to insist on some support for the first couple of weeks. By that I mean an experienced teacher in the classroom with you to start, and even after you gain experience, will you have an aid in the room? Depending on the makeup of the class it could be very difficult to do on your own. Good luck!

kahluablast 11-18-2021 05:58 AM

Welcome back to the field. I hope someone who has actual middle school experience will respond. I have not, although I had kids who went through middle school!

My advice though is to be tough but fair. Middle schoolers will take advantage anyway that they can if they find they can. I would attempt NOT to send them to the office too quickly, but to find a way to engage them. Maybe rewarding kids who attempt work with effort might work. But you still have to find a way to de-escalate those who just make waves. I might try a 3 strike thing where each kid starts with a clean slate each class, then if they have to be redirected it is a strike. 3 strikes and they (go to office, don't get 3 minutes of "free time" at the end). Attempt to find a positive -although it is early and I am not clear thinking yet... If you can come up with some sort of math game that you could play at the beginning for a warm up, they might respond to that.

Good luck to you! I do hope you get some other feedback. With the PT woes of the last month, the number of posters has definitely dwindled.

pielette 11-18-2021 12:03 AM

Hi everyone,

I've decided to start subbing after taking a break from teaching since this post. I'm starting a long-term assignment after Thanksgiving break that will last a few months.

The assignment is 7th and 8th grade SPED math. I haven't done SPED before. The teacher told me that she sends misbehaving students to the office and rewards students with candy. I did that in the past when I was a full-time teacher, and it didn't work for me. It only made the misbehaving students resentful of me.

How much of a disciplinarian do I be as a substitute and as a special ed teacher? I really want to get to know the students. I also love this opportunity to teach math, which is what I studied and haven't had the chance to teach in my own classroom before. This can be a good opportunity for me.




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