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MaineSub MaineSub is offline
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 1,218
Senior Member

Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 1,218
Senior Member
Explain me this...
Old 03-05-2018, 09:11 AM
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I have sat on my hands more than once while reading this thread and watching the polarity develop... I have difficulty understanding that polarity and, too often the double standards associated with it. So while I will probably regret letting my hands move out from under my butt, I will make just a couple, perhaps disjointed observations. The axe I'll grind is different.

I've been on this forum long enough to watch many discussions deteriorate into "we/they" conversations--even to the point where it's been suggested by some subs that "regular teachers" should not be allowed to post here. Really. (I can't resist pointing out that equates to "blocking" regular teachers from the forum.)

While I do agree that a forum specifically geared to subs and the challenges of subbing has value, if we are to be a closed society, that value diminishes rapidly for me. I'm with Groucho Marx who maintained he would never join a club that would have him as a member-- but I extend it to if that club only has "Grouchos" as members, I wouldn't want to join. I realize it's a bit of a strained comparison but over my career as a sub I can honestly say I've learned a lot more from regular teachers than I have from other subs.

We are quick to sympathize with subs who come here to vent. I stay off most of the venting threads because I often can see the "other side" of the "problem." I can say in all honesty that there have been posts made on this site by subs that make me cringe--and some subs that I would not want to see in a classroom where my child is a student. My point here is not to suggest subs are all incompetent. But as a group, we often give regular teachers no quarter and start with the assumption they are maligning subs, not leaving enough information, etc. etc. while we sympathize with subs who assume very little responsibility for the job and their own development.

There are always two sides to every story, including this one... if we accept just a few things that have been posted here, this is a sub who doesn't respect the lesson plan and either can't or won't enforce discipline. Those two aspects of a sub's job seem pretty basic to me. I've dealt with some pretty vague lesson plans and I've been in some tough classrooms discipline wise. Blaming the teacher isn't very helpful while I'm trying to get through the day--even if it can be legitimately blamed on the teacher.

Another part of the problem is the number of variables in every situation. I've had kids who are normally horrible be angels while I'm subbing. I guess that must be because of the regular teacher, eh? Or maybe it's because I'm much more skilled than the regular teacher. I've had kids who the regular teacher thinks are angels be horrible while I'm subbing. That's definitely the regular teacher's fault, right? (It should be apparent this is sarcasm.) Oh, did I mention that the kid's dad left home yesterday and moved to Alaska?

I think one of the reasons I get requested by teachers is my stated philosophy. "When I'm in your room, they are my kids, not yours. I won't compete with you, and I won't undermine you. The more good news is I won't blame you for what happens while you're not there." I like Gromit's "audition" point. If we can't form a partnership that works, maybe we shouldn't work together. It's unfortunate that we need to do it quickly and "by the seat of the pants" without a two-hour orientation and 43-page lesson plan, but that's what subbing is all about.

Has this sub asked for help and feedback? Does he not know that he's holding the kids to a lower standard than usual? What has he done, if anything, to improve his skills with technology? During my first year of subbing I actually "demanded" the principal observe me teaching in a classroom. That might be a little over the top for many, but why not?

One thing I haven't seen in this thread is the point that a sub can "block" a teacher, classroom, school and even an entire district, without any explanation or justification to anyone. We can, as it were, "vote with our feet." But we (collectively) seem to think a "regular teacher," must be held to some higher standard in his or her selection of who substitute teaches his or her class. I would challenge us all to consider the implications of that belief.

Bait and switch? Ido get switched occasionally--sometimes to jobs I was happier about and sometimes to jobs I wish I didn't have to do... but I'm convinced it's not personal. It's about priorities and filling holes. Most sub coordinators and regular teachers aren't sitting up at night trying to figure out how to screw their subs. There ARE a couple of jobs at my school that truly suck. But somebody has to do them unless the system changes or certain kids move away. Some of the assumptions made on this thread aren't logical. The "fact" that a kid behaves differently for a sub doesn't mean the teacher doesn't know or doesn't care and is a "crappy teacher." It could mean there have been some "crappy subs" who didn't care or try to figure out how to manage the situation.

When the kids ask me to judge a situation and resolve a difference between them (aka competitive tattling), I tell them I've left my judge's robe and gavel at home, so I guess we'll just have to figure out how to move forward.

It's not a perfect system, not by a long shot. And guess what? One of the reasons it's not perfect is humans are a big part of it. That aspect of education is not likely to change totally for a while (some would argue that it is--the day will come when we watch kids work on their iPads which are providing highly individualized instruction). Until it does, we might need to do a better job of listening to each other, accepting each other's skills and limitations and focusing on the goals--which really ought to be the same.

mrsd5, I congratulate you on your self-awareness... and it cracks me up that you and I are exactly the opposite! I love the littles--sorta unusual for a guy! One reason I can be effective with the high schoolers is I knew them when they were little and they seem to remember how we work together. Gromit, I have a feeling I would love subbing for you. And I'd do what I could to make sure the feeling was mutual. It sounds to me like you want what's best for your kids and classroom. We'd have that in common.
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