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Ohana's Message:

Sometimes, even if we do not understand it, a little bit of empathy goes a long way. Even on this forum.

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
Ohana 04-01-2015 06:22 PM

It is very hard to find a person these days that is willing to listen.. listen without the intent of replying...I mean really listen without judgement ... Respect for this thread. At least we are trying.

Penguin82 03-31-2015 10:24 PM

It feels a but like substitutes vs teachers.

I understand the need to vent. I do. I also know that as a teacher, I want to make sure I am understood. It's so hard when teachers are constantly in the hot seat.

Anyway, maybe teachers pop in to forums like the "substitute board" because they want to see what's on the other side. Then when they see judgement they get defensive.

I get defensive. I worry I'm not doing enough . Not doing enough for my kids, my students. I worry my sub won't have enough. I spend hours and I don't know if it was helpful....

I go on to see what I can do better. Should I put --- in my plans?

Anyway, as I said, everyone has a battle. Let's all be kind!

Agent99 03-30-2015 06:59 PM

Message boards can be problematic when trying to communicate. There certainly are better ways, but unfortunately most people are not able to make contact any other way with a large number and diverse group as one finds on a forum.

On boards that I have moderated, we find that a poster providing information or the whole story is like pulling teeth. We are told only what the reader wants us to know and usually biased. This is a given on any board. Expected even.

I often feel that I do not explain myself clearly because I am desperately trying to keep it concise and on point. Something gets lost when attempting to stay within those boundaries.

As you may have already observed here, as I have, many subs already feel a lack of respect in their jobs; from many sources. I believe that no one enjoys and gives 100% when they believe it doesn’t matter anyway.

I have raised 2 special needs children that are now adults and with their own children. I am also a step mother. I must say that being a sub is very often quite like being the wicked stepmother even though you have done nothing but try to do good. lol...they actually have a name for that now; Cinderella in Reverse Syndrome!

Walking into a classroom totally ignorant of the environment, the students, the subject matter and often what the title of the assignment is, can be unbelievably stressful. You are desperately trying to carry out the teacher's plan and being fought the whole way by students you are unfamiliar with and either walk back out of the classroom when they see a sub or jump up and down when they see a sub, assuming this is going to be a great day for jokes on the poor sub.

I have gone into schools before thinking that the title for the assignment meant one thing only to find this means something else. I have worked hard with the Kelly Educational Staffing in my area communicating some of the challenges we face. I have already seen some improvement and would encourage others to do the same in their district.

I have received a number of private messages regarding this thread and I appreciate the support from each one. A message board is like a relationship, in that it takes work from all parties to make it strong, safe and flourish. One also needs to recognize when it is time to move forward to a new thread, not “beating a dead horse” so to speak.

So to summarize, my original post was to ask that the teachers that do come into the substitute board, help keep it safe and comfortable for the subs to express themselves honestly and without fear of confrontation from a stranger. In other words, respect. I still hold true to my original post and I thank each and every one of your for your input. I hope some good has been established and I hope we can empower one another. Thanks again.

TeachforAll 03-30-2015 02:31 PM

I understand what you are saying, but sometimes empathy is helping the teacher in the situation. As subs, we usually have nobody to share those situations with without it hurting us jobwise. We all want what is best for the students, but we need to do what is best for the adult also because it affects the children. I personally learn from people sharing those stories on how not or how to handle difficult situations--that is why I read most of the time.

Sublime 03-30-2015 02:29 PM

I've been reading this board for years and have never felt teachers were berating subs.

MaineSub 03-30-2015 02:05 PM

If I may clarify again, my point of the thread to begin with was to stress that if a full time teacher comes into the substitute board, please just show respect.
And I think we should expect no less from substitutes. I would concur that in general there can be a wall between substitute teachers and regular teachers. My point was, in part, that both sides have a role and responsibility in tearing down the wall. And, if we can't change the general perception, we can work on a few specifics. I think we gain the respect of teachers one at a time.

Not everyone knows how to cope with certain kinds of teachers that are the "exception", to use your words. I came here for help in dealing with those "exceptions" as well as the students themselves.
My bed is not all roses. I have several "exceptions" that I'm forced to deal with regularly. I would only say that there is a difference between coming here looking for sympathy and coming here looking for help.

I would also be quick to admit that I've had some very fortunate circumstances and perhaps even some "luck." One of the earliest truths I discovered is that the only behavior I can control in the classroom is my own and how I behave makes a world of difference in what the kids do and how they behave. I think that same truth applies to relationships with adults.

The playground experiences we've each had perhaps demonstrates the commonality between subs and "regular" teachers more than the differences. We can all do better and serve our children more skillfully.

Finally, to a large extent, the reason I feel "safe" here is that I've set some boundaries for myself. I have been shocked at some of the comments and beliefs expressed by subs. But I am not going to fight those dragons.
TeachforAll 03-30-2015 01:10 PM

I agree with the OP. I am a substitute certified teacher. I don't post much, but I enjoy reading the threads. I appreciate all viewpoints. I read an old thread about half day jobs that reflects on what this thread is about. Some of the teachers viewpoints did not reflect the best interest of the sub and was belittling (get a real job). I looked into that thread because I wanted to know how other subs felt on the topic. I was getting requested for half day jobs in advance when I prefer to only accept full day jobs in advance. I love reading teacher viewpoints about how to do things in the classroom just not as much on venting threads. As a sub, we don't get the most support at schools. I want a place I can freely talk about an experience without sugarcoating. I am grateful to this forum, and I still enjoy spending time here.

Singfree 03-30-2015 11:06 AM

I feel this board should be a place where educators can share all kinds of experiences and thoughts. Many times when people face a bad situation or a challenge, they seek out support from others. This should be a community of support as well as a place to share ideas and advice. The world of education is diverse, like anything else. I have had both wonderful and bad experiences. I have met amazing people and not so amazing people on this 6 year journey or should I say adventure. To me, subbing is an adventure. You really never know what you will face. I tend to write about my challenges, but I think it's human nature to seek support during a bad experience or difficult time. I appreciate everyone sharing their experiences good or bad. I've learned from all types of posts. My hope is for everyone to feel safe here unless they are a deranged child abuser or something to that effect.

Ohana 03-30-2015 09:11 AM

*nonchalantly sips on latte*

Agent99 03-30-2015 03:48 AM

MaineSub, thank you for your input to this discussion. I appreciate your thoughts and that you have felt safe in sharing them with us.

I have never received a private message until I posted this thread. Not everyone has had the same experiences; as you said "diverse group of people."

Why the thread? Let me use a quote from you: "I see teachers as nurturers. Obviously, there are some exceptions, but why focus on them?" Not everyone has been able to afford to "volunteer" many years before becoming a sub, but instead has had to make the job a career for their own private reasons.

Not everyone knows how to cope with certain kinds of teachers that are the "exception", to use your words. I came here for help in dealing with those "exceptions" as well as the students themselves. I did not have the option of doing volunteer work. I had to get paid, and still do. That is why this ONE thread was posted and putting the focus on the negative feedback given to folks just asking for some support.

Again if I might quote you in order to demonstrate an example of the different experiences each one of us has and continues to have in this position: "For one example, I had to "break up" a group of subs on the playground during recess who seemed to think it was break and chat time instead of "watch the kids" time."

My experience has been quite the opposite as I chased after a special needs first grader (with my cane in hand and limping) who was running off from the playground into a wooded area while a group of teachers sat at a picnic table, visiting and laughing.

I appreciate everything you have shared and am thankful that you feel safe here to share your thoughts. Not everyone does though. If I may clarify again, my point of the thread to begin with was to stress that if a full time teacher comes into the substitute board, please just show respect. That is all.

Since you enjoy quotes. I so much do too! Here is one that I remember from many many years ago: "The man who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself." ~ Nietzsche

Agent99 03-30-2015 03:15 AM

I think my point has been made .... exactly!

If you are unsure as to why, I suggest you look at the reply by the teacher a couple of replies above.

MaineSub 03-30-2015 02:17 AM

This is one of the weirdest threads I've seen because I still haven't figured out what the point actually is... But I think it's safe to say that the majority who have posted on this thread are not anti-teachers posting comments. (Although at the same time, I would admit there are plenty of threads that start as complaints and incidents reported aimed at teachers.)

In the grand scheme of things, forums and social media are far less than ideal communication arenas. The good news is the bad news. The anonymity we have allows us to say things that we might not say or would say in a different way in another venue. A reality is that just about anything you post is subject to criticism. Some forums require a particularly thick skin.

I wasn't looking for a support group to make me feel good when I joined this board. I was looking for a place where I'd be forced to think by a diverse group of people with hopefully similar interests.

Substitute Teaching was not something I started lightly. After years of volunteering at schools in different capacities I still felt inadequate, but a principal and several teachers who saw me work with kids in classrooms nagged and begged to sub. I don't say that to brag--but my vision of teachers is quite different from that given in the original post. I see teachers as nurturers. Obviously, there are some exceptions, but why focus on them?

Grouch Marx once said he wouldn't belong to any club that would have him as a member. I would challenge members of this board to look at the board and ask ourselves what and how we are portraying ourselves to the world. I would say in all honesty, had I visited this board before I started subbing, I would not have felt much encouraged.

I am honored to have been accepted as a (substitute) teacher by my colleagues (other teachers and administration) in spite of my lack of formal credentials. I remember a day when we had a large number of subs in and I joked to the sub coordinator that "working with subs is a real pain." It was both funny and not. For one example, I had to "break up" a group of subs on the playground during recess who seemed to think it was break and chat time instead of "watch the kids" time. Just this week I had a fifth grader ask "Do you like substitutes?" She seemed surprised when I replied that I am one. I choose to take that as a compliment.

Lincoln is quoted as saying "most people are about as happy as they decide to be," and there is much truth to it. If we major in major things (teaching, kids, nurturing) there are huge opportunities for substitute TEACHERS.

funkster 03-29-2015 07:31 PM

I will never post on this board again.

Sorry, no intent to butt in, I thought with 40+ years of teaching I could give some insight into what goes on and what teachers expect of subs.

No problem.

Again, sorry I should have picked up on this from living with teenagers who let me know they didn't need advice.

Ohana 03-29-2015 07:08 PM

Sometimes, even if we do not understand it, a little bit of empathy goes a long way. Even on this forum.

Agent99 03-29-2015 05:41 PM

Oh how sweet of you. No one has berated me specifically here. I just see it towards some of us as I read the replies to some of the subs here posting.

I grow weary of reading negativity, especially towards folks that really are doing their best. We all have different "bests" and I get frustrated enough to leave a board that is not supportive of differences. I can get that out in the world, why would I deliberately come into an environment for that? KWIM?

Thank you.

Agent99 03-29-2015 05:35 PM

I'm not suggesting that anyone be "banned" from this board or any other, for that matter. I am simply, as I said before, putting it out there.

As you have learned "so much" from other boards, perhaps this board can provide insight to full time teachers on what a sub has to deal with. So many subs here have mentioned the being ignored, being lied to, being asked to do things that the teacher doesn't have to do but expects to get paid extra for....things like that.

On the other hand, I have seen in posts during the time I have been a member here, replies from teachers that are defensive and offensive.

We do our best as subs, even the worst sub, to follow the plan provided. But we are so very limited in the time that we have, to understand that "Bobby" has a problem with this and "Joseph" has an LD in whatever. We don't even know when we walk in that classroom if Bobby and Joseph are in the right seats, so how can we help (Example only).

We have learned the difficult job it must be, to be a good teacher, just in those "few hours that we sit in their chair" and through that we/I have developed a greater respect for the job itself. That respect is damaged when I read a reply from a teacher criticizing the skills or attitude of the sub that got up at 5 o'clock in the morning to try to "snag" an assignment so they can work that day. We don't get to spend but maybe an hour getting ourselves ready, fed and at the school to fill in for the teacher that got ill. We eat lunch by ourselves or at a table being ignored. These are all things that have been talked about on the board here. Not to mention the pay; but that is our choice to accept or decline.

So banned? No. Just recognize when they come to this board, that they are not in their classroom talking to a student; but instead a cohort.

3leggedtable 03-29-2015 04:26 PM

Agent99 don't stop posting here just because "regular" teachers berated your previous post. Don't get discouraged and keep the conversation going.

Lakeside 03-29-2015 03:18 PM

I do substitute teach, so I guess this is "my" board, but I absolutely wouldn't want to be restricted to it! As some others have said, I usually click on the recent posts button rather than coming straight to any one board. I learn so much on the other boards, and I feel very comfortable posting there as well. The number of different classrooms I've been in has given me a really large pool of (my own and other people's) ideas to discuss and pass on, and I think that's what it's all about here.

I don't want classroom teachers banned from this board, because I don't want to be banned from theirs.

Agent99 03-29-2015 03:08 PM

As I write this response: There are 6 replies so far to the original post. 3 are from current full time teachers, 1 retired teacher and 2 substitute teachers.

I have been working on message boards, forums, chat rooms, for almost 20 years now in a variety of roles. As mentioned, some can contain mostly venting, some are just almost violent. But many are now setting boundaries and standards to protect their members. I am not personally experiencing criticism here. I don't think I said that, but have read much, none the less. I titled the post in this manner because those near 20 years of experience has taught me to be prepared.

If a member, (which I did have to "join" here) has to be "careful with wording, just like in a work setting, so as not to offend anyone," as Ohana noted, just to express their own story in their own post, then why bother? I can read and as another member noted, "sit on my hands" and get "holes in my tongue." Pull what I can out of what I read and ignore the rest. However, on the other hand, am I not mostly wasting my time then? To bind yourself in this manner seems almost oppressive. Please do not take this out of context. I am not suggesting that we write any old thing no matter how much harm or hurt it could bring another member, but that we don't have to walk on eggshells to tell our very own experience/story. Please do not distort my intent.

I only mention this because when I first came here, I gained a lot of self-confidence to go to the classroom each day, knowing that there were other subs out there, just like me. It's good to know you are not alone.

I FULLY support our teachers especially in the public schools. I believe this support has carried over in most of my replies to others here as well. As a sub, I have new respect for them. That is not what this post is about. It's about the substitute frustrations. If you have or are a "step-mother" you know the frustration of having responsibility but no authority. Same as a "Sub", at least in our district here and from what I have read previously on the board, other districts as well. I am merely putting this out there.

MaineSub 03-29-2015 02:19 PM

I'm not sure I understand the point of the original post... but it does trigger some thoughts.

First, I think we might define "support" and "addressing concerns." I think support is about different viewpoints and different ideas for solving problems and addressing issues. While I acknowledge there can be value in "venting," there can be a propensity for it turn into a pity party that I, personally, would rather not attend.

I almost left this board because it seemed (seems?) there are a lot of complaints and sympathy but too often very little interest in solving the issue that is driving the complaint. My compromise has been to avoid commenting on most threads and concentrating on the ones where the original poster seems genuinely interested in ideas and solutions.

Since my laser focus as a substitute is teaching, I don't understand why posts from teachers wouldn't be welcomed. I certainly want to hear from them! At school, I don't run to other subs for help and advice; I ask teachers. (I also ask admin and the kids, but that's a different topic.) Are all teachers excellent? No, not any more than all subs are excellent. But to dismiss someone based on his or her title and position seems a bit strange.

One of the frequent complaints on the board is that subs aren't respected by teachers. Perhaps we should start using our full title: substitute teacher. That might get us thinking that just maybe we are contributing to the problem by not respecting ourselves and not respecting or understanding the job called "teaching."

Personally, I've seen very little "berating" by teachers on this forum. Most of the posts seem to be an attempt to be helpful and create perspective. I have, however, some holes in my tongue (and have sat on my hands) over some of the comments made by subs.

One reality is that most of us have not sat in the teachers' seats. We've occupied their chair for a few hours. The exception would be those who are certified and have held the position. Still, when we paint with a broad brush we also should think about how it feels to be so painted.

Forums, like schools, families, and any other group, tend to take on general characteristics of members, sometimes unconsciously. Personally, I'd like to see:

  • more "professional" teachers contributing
  • more positive posts and less negativity
  • more diversity of contributors--admin, paras?
  • more happy stories and accomplishments
Ohana 03-29-2015 01:40 PM

The sad part is you titled the post expecting instant criticism. This forum tends to bring in more venting than an exchange of ideas and thoughts...the very purpose of a forum. I am very sorry you are experiencing this but you are not the only one. I used to feel that way a lot at one point on this forum and even at times. I have felt like I have to be so careful with wording, just like in a work setting, so as not to offend anyone. Pretty sad. You can vent to me whenever you want to on message. I think for me it took a lot of venting, to clear out the storm clouds and finally find peace with what I do and find out what is truly important.

We all have different ways.

seenthelight 03-29-2015 01:32 PM

I've subbed and I've taught. I reply when I feel I have insight. It's not meant as a flame. I do have to say, again having been in both positions, being a full time teacher changes your perspective. When I was subbing, I worked hard and thought all of my fellow subs did the same. Now I know it's not the case. A good sub is worth their weight in gold because a good deal of bad subs are out there. Unfortunately, that some times colors how teachers react. Personally, I browse this board to help and to make sure I don't lose sight of the little things for those times when I do have a great sub. I try my best to treat the great subs I'be found in a way that would make them want to come back to my classroom. I'd hate to lose a sub because of an issue that didn't even occur to me. So when sub posts come up on the new posts list, I read them. I would also hope that we could all learn from each other. I would not think to request that subs not reply to my posts. If you have insight as to what I am posting, reply, and I will continue to do the same.

funkster 03-29-2015 01:18 PM

Teachers come here not to flame you, but subs. are stand ins for teachers and often we think we can help you understand why and how things are done when you are not in the classroom. Information that other subs may not have experienced. Having done both subbed and taught my own class I can see the difference in each job.

It is a teacher site. These are general boards, and on general boards everyone can just click and post. My suggestion is to pm the editors/administrators of the site and ask for this board be moved to a group. That way only members can post replies to the questions subs have. People will need to sign up to join the group or they can not post. Not many teachers will sign up to join the substitute group.

Now, I will let you enjoy the irony of my giving you advice on how I think you can solve the problem of not wanting advice from teachers by posting advice as a teacher. The irony, got to love it.

mooba1 03-29-2015 01:08 PM

No flaming here. What I was thinking as I read your post was that it's good to have different viewpoints.

There have been posts by current classroom teachers that I found helpful because then I saw things through their eyes. Even though I'm a retired teacher, it's good to have a refresher.

By the same token, I appreciate the teachers that come here to see what's really important to a sub, and how they can make things easier for us.

I don't think most of the teachers who come here and post do so to berate us or "tell us how it is". It's a stressful jungle out there, and classroom teachers and subs need to work together and support one another.

TaffyFL 03-29-2015 01:04 PM

and I agree with your post. I go to "new" on the home page to see all the new posts but I try to pay attention to what board the new posts are posted on. I would never post on the substitute board unless I thought I had a helpful idea. I think we should build each other up, not tear each other down. We already have enough stress!

Agent99 03-29-2015 12:48 PM

Okay, I am going to write something here that may cause me a lot of grief. But I have learned in life, that I am no one special. Therefore, if I am thinking it, most likely someone else is too.

I stopped coming in here for a while, but decided to return today because I missed the support most of the subs provide to one another. What I didn't miss were the "Teachers" that come into this particular board, for Substitute Teachers; not referring to the retired teachers that are subbing now, but the full-time primary teachers still with their own classrooms. The ones that come into this board to berate those subs whose posts they do not agree with or trying to enlighten us towards our jobs.

As I read the posts today, I see this has not changed. I have found in life that teachers are some of the most judgmental individuals in our society. They get in the authoritarian mode and cannot seem to turn it off. I have a sister that I dearly love that is a retired teacher. When she was still teaching, she had this problem too, being reminded occasionally.

There are many professions that battle this issue, my former one included. Social workers are not suppose to judge, but oh my goodness do they ever. Especially each other.

Point being. This is a board for substitute teachers that is suppose to be a safe place to address concerns and provide support. We are old enough, smart enough and fully capable of helping each other, and do not need a "professional" to come in and tell us "how it is." We have sat in their seats, but have they sat in ours?

I am sure one less substitute teacher not coming into this forum will not be missed. But again, I stress....if one person is thinking something...then it's a sure thing others are too.

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