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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day--very long
Old 09-26-2017, 03:25 PM
 
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If the person who wrote "New Sub, HELP!!" is reading this, take heart. Sometimes even us old dogs pull out every trick in our hat and it still goes wrong. Yesterday was that day for me, but I'm getting right back on the horse that threw me and subbing in the same grade level next week.
This lovely group of 5th graders is at a school where I sub most often, so I know nearly all of them. Word has it that they've been a hot mess since kinder, though I've only known them since 2nd grade. Almost 1/3 of this grade level is sped/behavior/low-level, and the others are mostly GT with a sprinkling middle of the roaders. It's crazy.
Yesterday, several of the low-level bunch (who've always been obnoxious) were on a roll. They would NOT stop talking, and smirking at the antics of a couple of doofuses in the class. Well, I say they wouldn't stop, but it did take a very long time to get them quiet so I could give directions. I signed cards, had some walking at recess (these things are part of the behavior plan for this school), and moved one across the hall into outer Siberia (aka the bilingual class---took away his audience and he hated it). That helped quite a bit, but I wasn't happy with the class or myself by the end of the day. I made sure I didn't lose control and raise my voice, but it wasn't easy to stay outwardly calm. ETA: I did praise the kids who were doing what I asked, so it wasn't all negative stuff coming from me.
This grade level has block classes, so the second group I had (sadly, just for about an hour) was just fine. The other teacher who had my homeroom group said they were awful for her, as well.
Please, help me. I need some fresh ideas or a new perspective or something. This is only the 3rd time in 5 years of subbing that I had to leave a bad note for the teacher. One of the other teachers assured me that "Justice would be served", but I really just want to do better next week. I'll have the "nice" group most of the day this time, and the group I had so much trouble with will only be with me for an hour or so. Funny, the two kids on formal behavior plans were pretty much a non-issue all day.


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Old 09-26-2017, 05:11 PM
 
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Mooba1,
I hope you have a better day, next time. Hang in there. I feel ya'.
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Old 09-26-2017, 07:28 PM
 
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Thank you, Katryn. BTW, I watched several of the videos by the guy you mentioned in your post, and I really like his ideas. Tomorrow is a new day.
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Old 09-27-2017, 12:30 PM
 
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You are right to get back in there to sub in the difficult classes. You are experienced enough to know that students will get to know you and your expectations. Some will simply do better for you just getting to know you better. You should get the others with your strategies that have worked all along, tweaking things to meet challenges. As you know with subbing there are bound to be bad days.

I have been reviewing classroom management techniques.from various sources, including the videos that were recommended by KatrynG the other day.its good to be reminded of what works, and I have picked up some new tricks to try.
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Sequel...
Old 09-27-2017, 09:30 PM
 
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to The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

So I did my first teaching sub. (Have had a few days of TA and Sp Ed and Inclusion).

Started with above average horrible gridlock to a school 39 miles away in L.A. So after getting there late, to make a long story short, sent 5 kids to the office. No respect. I could not leave that school fast enough. I'm going to bed with epic tiredness. There were a few little lights in the darkness, but a million dollars could not convince me to go back. No respect, no teaching. I left angry at and sad for the students and, to make it worse, disappointed in myself. Made me wish for the opportunity to take some of those kids to the shed for 5 minutes. But the latter is part of the sense of disappointment in myself. I wanted to be a fun teacher, an optimistic teacher. I even wrote on the white board: "Ms. So-n-so, your scholars were AWESOME!!" to let them know that that's what I wanted to leave for her. Alas, the eraser had to do it's deed and the note was not left for ANY class. 6th and 7th graders.

I called my younger sister who is an experienced teacher and vented with her. She commiserated with me. Tomorrow, I go back to the school where all this week (except for today) I will have been subbing as an SRP
(inclusion) teacher. Today made me appreciate the other kids (9th graders) who, in comparison, might be little angels. Sort of.

Where I used to have respect for teachers, now I have epic respect for teachers.

I also found a place in my heart ached for those 6th and 7th graders. What must their home life be like? Is the chaos of school a happier place for them? Is it a worse place for them? I'm definitely feeling major regret at the decision to sub. What have I gotten myself into?!


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@thecoast and a better day
Old 09-28-2017, 01:53 PM
 
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I taught for 30 years, and this is my 6th year of subbing. The second sentence of my original post reads, "Sometimes even us old dogs pull out very trick in our hat and it still goes wrong". My message to you is that it happens to all of us. There are many factors involved, including, but not limited to, the home life many of our students endure.

The first day, heck, the first YEAR of any new teacher is a baptism by fire. Just like the first year, the good news is that you'll never have to do that first day of subbing ever again. It's over, and you can move on to the second, third, and fourth days. My first day of subbing after 30 years of experience was a disaster. Thank god it was only a 1/2 day in the afternoon, so I could slink away and try to forget about it. I wanted to run to my car after the first 30 minutes. I remember really questioning my ability and my sanity, and I was so nervous, b/c my second job was a three day assignment.

Fast forward 5 years, and I still sub for that teacher I did the three day job for. In fact, I sub at that same school every week. The first school? Welp, let's just say I picked the wrong grade level for myself (kinder) and I should've known better. Fortunately, that school is really much farther away than I want to travel.

After my awful day, I vented here and then watched some of the videos Katryn posted. (See her post below this thread). I realized I has been falling into a few bad habits without consciously being aware of doing so. I cleaned up my act, and the next sub job was a 110% improvement.

It's always good to review and see where we can improve---and there is always room for improvement. I would suggest watching the videos (and there are more on Rick Morris' website) as well as reviewing your day. Think about what went wrong and why that might have been the case, but also think about anything that went right, no matter how small. Keep us updated, and good luck with your next assignment.
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Tired
Old 09-28-2017, 03:32 PM
 
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Thanks for the reminder, Mooba1. I'm going to more schools this year, so I'm learning new routines... and I'm learning about immersion, inclusion, IEP... etc.

There are days like today when I remind myself that 1st graders are still just older kindergarteners. They can be little sweeties are little needies. I had signed up for 2 days with today's class, but I'm still needed to chauffer in my family. I'm up very early driving grandkids to school, chauffering others to medical appointments, and doing the regular 'soccer mom' routine...

I know better than to sub when I am tired! I'm going to get a cup of tea and watch some videos and get my sense of humor back! (One little one told me I should tell her best friend not to play in group with someone else and that would make her happy! I told her I couldn't do that!
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@Mooba1, update
Old 09-28-2017, 07:12 PM
 
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So when I came back from the nightmare...wait, let me rewind. Last night when I went to bed, I was still in emotional turmoil. When I closed my eyes to sleep, I unintentionally began to rewind from the very first moment I arrived in the classroom with the principal. That kind of replay has NEVER happened to me in my life! I opened my eyes quickly (and widely) in astonishment thinking I would spend the rest of the night like this. I was too tired and fell asleep relatively quickly.

OK, so when I came back today to the school of the week, even the naughty ninth-graders seemed mildly mischievous in comparison to the previous day's disturbingly misbehaved sixth- and seventh-graders. (Of course, not all of these sixth- and seventh-graders were poorly behaved, but the squeaky wheels just didn't respond to the WD-40.)

I won't be going back tomorrow (Friday) to the school, but I've been assigned as a sub to a 10th-grade math class at another school. I still feel like I'm more concerned about my skill with math and the ability to teach the content well than about classroom management, but maybe that will change. It's one thing to know stuff, it's another to teach it. It's yet another thing to know stuff thoroughly, and still another to teach it well.

Even though the time was brief, I will miss the kids I began to make connections with.

Let's see what tomorrow brings!
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Old 09-29-2017, 08:15 AM
 
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Sometimes there just are classes like that and there's not much we can do. I always love to hear the regular teachers say they can't deal with a class or with certain kids....then I know it's not just me as a sub. I have pretty good classroom management skills and don't usually have any problems with any classes as a whole. But there are always some where you wonder why the principal put certain kids together. Or the class that Will. Not. Stop. Chatting.

I remember last year in 2nd grade there was a two-week period where all the 2nd grade teachers decided to switch up the classes for social studies. So they had a rotation worked out where each class would go to a different classroom for that block. There were five 2nd grades. Unfortunately for me I was in one of those 2nd grades for a full week because the teacher had just gotten married. I say "unfortunately" not because of *my* class -- they were lovely, an ESL class and I always find the ESL kids to be sweet -- but because of one of the other classes. One day I had another class in and got the entire lesson done in the allotted time. Next day I had the problem 2nd grade in...only got HALF of the lesson done because of all the time I had to spent getting them quiet, and moving kids to sit somewhere else, and etc. ugh.

Later in the day another 2nd grade teacher -- NOT the teacher of the problem class -- asked me how it had gone with the problem class. I just said "omg" and she said "yep, I only got half my lesson done with them". So like I said...if the regular teachers are finding the same problems then I don't feel bad!
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Old 09-29-2017, 09:01 AM
 
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I've been at this for 10 years and I cover 3 elementary schools extensively . On a day to day basis I get a good picture of which teachers have the uncontrollable classes. I watch how students behave with their regular teachers, and listen to these same teachers complain in the lounge. Most teachers know what they're dealing with and appreciate you doing the best you can. I just shake it off and move on.


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Old 10-01-2017, 09:54 PM
 
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I've been at this for ten years too, and I don't think I'm imagining that every year students are becoming progressively less disciplined and more unruly. I sub in a small, wealthy So. Calif. district in "blue ribbon" schools where students routinely wander around their classrooms at will, blurt out whatever off topic thought comes to mind, waste plenty of time chatting and fooling around, and treating learning as a big nuisance best avoided. They seem to have no idea why they're even there. This lack of decorum is pervasive through all grade levels. I think the reasons are many and include permissive parenting and changing societal norms. As subs, we have a more difficult job than ever before. Kids today have little fear of consequences because too often there are none. I once had a very last minute call to fill in for an hour for an 8th grade math teacher who had to briefly go home. The students behaved horribly in his absence, and, when he returned, I was barely keeping myself together. In front of the class, I told him exactly what had happened. He just shrugged it off, and, needless to say, I haven't subbed for him since. I work hard to provide continuity of instruction, and I sincerely want the students to have a good, productive day. However, if they refuse to be receptive or cooperative, I don't feel it's my fault. I will not take responsibility for their poor behavior. It's just frustrating that terrible, no good, very bad days are becoming the norm. Times have changed, and not for the better.
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Old 10-02-2017, 01:53 AM
 
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Cayo wrote:
Quote:
...I don't think I'm imagining that every year students are becoming progressively less disciplined and more unruly.
To which I add, "me either!" But I would also add, "and that's true of society in general." Kids are not coming up with these behaviors on their own, they are modeling behaviors they are seeing every day, at home, in the media, in their communities, and--in many cases--at school. What is school, but a microcosm of society in general?

That said, I still believe that we can ("must" might be a better word) manage our society (including the classroom microcosm) based on what we want it to be. That means, in part, looking for the glimmers of hope: the kids who want to learn, the kids who want their world to be a better place.

Sometimes there are a lot of barriers to break through before you find them and it can get discouraging.

To quote Rita Pierson, "Is this job tough? You bet! Can we do it? You bet! We're educators!"
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Old 10-02-2017, 05:17 PM
 
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Yes, I can do it -- that is, show up, and attempt to do my job. For the benefit of those students with an interest in learning something, I do my best to follow whatever lesson plan is left for me. But I also recognize that much of the day will be spent futilely trying to keep and maintain order. And, yes, it is discouraging to constantly face roomfuls of students who are only interested in making bathroom visits, chatting with their friends, texting under the desktop, wandering around the room, and generally creating an atmosphere totally unconducive to learning. Administrators at one school have reinforced the carnival atmosphere by reconfiguring 5th grade classrooms to eliminate desks and replace them with bouncy balls for the kids to play on in class. It's as though school officials have abdicated their responsibility of educating these kids and are waving the white flag of surrender.

Last edited by Cayo; 10-02-2017 at 06:13 PM..
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Old 10-03-2017, 01:27 AM
 
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Cayo... I would say, in general, (and all generalities are of course false) administration is overly concerned about accommodating students so teaching and learning (and discipline) become secondary. From bouncy balls to the "everybody gets a trophy" mindset, we are doing our kids a horrible disservice. Oh, and did I mention keeping parents happy? What I find particularly sad is that the kids actually do want to learn--they just don't realize it. (Another generality!) We're so focused on accommodating their needs, having the correct curriculum, etc. we forget what it is we're actually supposed to be doing.

I was fortunate enough to sub at a high school a few years ago where there were a number of issues in the community, including a strong group of taxpayers who were lobbying to close the school. It was the first day of school and during the orientation assembly the principal said: "I don't care what is going on out there... when we enter those doors we're going to close them and it's going to be all about learning..." I could have hugged him. No white flag, let's charge forward! :-)
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