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MsGerbil MsGerbil is offline
 
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Subbing is making me miserable
Old 12-15-2017, 03:52 PM
 
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I've been struggling so much lately. I've always kind of struggled, but I'm really feeling it this school year. I've been a sub for just over a year, which is nothing, I know, but still. At the end of the school year last year I was asked to be a building sub in a Title 1 school, with some incredible behavior problems. I accepted, and I officially regret it. The title of this post says a lot. But I don't want to be miserable, and I wish I could figure out the secret to get me through this, so I can get better. There are a few classes that no one wants and they make their own teachers miserable, and I have to take them because I'm the building sub. I had one today that made me cry. Just a little, but I couldn't hide it. When I was getting frustrated by their horrible behavior they kept asking me if I would cry because I cried really hard in another class once (I couldn't stop and it was horrifying and embarrassing). The fact that they kept asking me is really what caused me to cry. I don't know why, but it is. I'm super sensitive (started recently - a lot going on with me). But they were loud, no qualms with saying No when told to do some work, pushing each other, shouting "shut up" and other things to each other, and just one of those classes. The other classes have other stories to accompany them. It's too much. It's just too much for me. And as a building sub, I don't pick my assignments. I don't want to quit, but I want to quit. I'm miserable. If I leave, I'd be embarrassed to return for any assignment. The reason I've been crying, I've learned after some soul-searching, is because I'm so ashamed and embarrassed, every time another teacher has to come in and yell at the kids, and how they listen immediately, but act up right when that person leaves, and that some teachers have talked poorly about me behind my back (don't insult someone to their friend, they'll hear about it) and everything they say is true, and I'm so ashamed and I hate it. Some teachers are nice, but I imagine they hate when I have to sub for them. I don't know what to do. I want to stay at this school, because I know the people and I know the kids and they like me when I'm not subbing for their class (they forget they like me when I am though, haha), and I love these kids and I want to see them succeed. I just don't want to be a sub here. I'm mostly venting. But venting alone won't solve anything. Advice, maybe? Should I leave? What can I do outside of this school, or what can I do to stay here but change the way things are, or anything else? It's too much, and I have no outlet. I need help. The principal is in denial about the kids' behaviors (he definitely has rose-colored glasses). Many of the parents do not care. I'm exhausted. There's a class that I'm almost on the verge of hating 2 students, and I know their background story. But they're practically psychopaths, and another student in another class. Two have two additional years in this school and the other has another year before graduating. Maybe if they were all in the 5th grade and they'll be gone after this year, I could hold on, but I can't. I do love this many of these kids (but not how I'm treated, or how poorly a sub I am in their classes), and I'm comfortable being in the same school. Any other building subs out there? Anyone else who has cried and can't seem to stop now? Anyone else who sucks at subbing and knows that everyone knows it? Anyone who can tell me something, lol? Thanks everyone for listening. I really don't know what to do anymore. I'm tired of it, and absolutely cannot afford to take a "break". This is my only job. I do it 5 days a week.


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Here goes....
Old 12-15-2017, 05:36 PM
 
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I once subbed in a middle school much like the school you describe. The toll it took on me caused me to lash out at my family and just become an all around miserable person to be around. When my favorite administrator moved on I dropped the school. Fortunately my main district has always had a shortage of subs, so I still have regular work

Your choice change the way you approach the job, or move on. Long term your health will not be able to take it. Trust me, I am a cancer survivor and I don't take c$&p from anyone anymore. Do you get any administrative support for behavior?
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Old 12-15-2017, 06:47 PM
 
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Are you able to quit being a building sub and take jobs at other schools instead? Will it hurt your reputation if you quit the building sub job? Your mental and physical health is the most important thing and if you can get out of the position you should.
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Old 12-15-2017, 07:28 PM
 
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There is so much tension and stress in your post, it comes at the reader in waves. The other PTers are right, your mental and physical health and well-being are at great risk. Your situation seems like there isn't much hope for change, given the spineless P and the horrible behavior of the students. You could turn it around, but frankly, I would walk away.

There is no shame in leaving a miserable situation. Explain to the P that you've discovered you're not a good fit for this school, and that you feel it best for all involved if you move on to a different situation. Don't blame yourself, and don't put yourself down in front of admin.

As for the nasty blood-sucking students, well, I eventually learned you can't save them all. Dust your sandals off, move on, and don't give them a second thought.

Can you go back to regular subbing to work on your classroom management skills and gain more experience? Not all schools and kids are as awful as those you're dealing with, believe me.
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Old 12-16-2017, 04:20 AM
 
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Some very difficult questions to answer... and the danger on a forum like this is to over-simplify... just a couple of observations.

Quote:
I'm super sensitive (started recently - a lot going on with me).
As you report, being super sensitive is not exactly the best characteristic for someone who is a sub. We do live and work in what is often what seems to be a hostile environment. But I noticed the "a lot going on with me." I'm not asking, but wondering how much of that is not about the work environment and that leads to the suggestion, "Fix/change whatever you can--even if it seems insignificant." Feeling trapped is not a fun place to be... and while it sounds like there are many things you can't change, I'll bet there are some you can.

You need a couple of "wins." Or, perhaps more accurately, you need to identify some of the wins you are having. It is very easy to get a downward spiral and feel that nothing is working... once that happens you'll lose sight of options and you'll forget to notice the things that are good.

I would encourage you to "reach out" to someone... connect with a person who will listen. Venting on a forum has value, but the best connections are made with the heart, not with the tongue or keyboard. You've acknowledged that "venting alone won't solve anything," so while you may not have the answers, you do know where to look. Ideally, find someone who will help you figure out what the right questions are... very often, the right questions are more important than the right answers. Remember, we all have our struggles. You are not alone.

One comment about the kids... one of my struggles is balancing the realism (you can't save every one) with becoming apathetic. I don't want to give up on any kid but I also know there are some kids and situations that will suck the life out of me if I allow it. A phrase often used in teaching and subbing is "choose your battles." Those are three words that are easy to say but the choice is sometimes very difficult.

I often remind myself that the only behavior I can truly control in the classroom is my own. Some--maybe most--of the energy we expend is easily misdirected when we forget that. You're not likely to "fix" a psychopath... but you do have choices about how you will react and respond to him or her.

Just don't give up on yourself. You can fix this.


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Old 12-17-2017, 05:27 AM
 
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Personally, I would not do a job that makes me miserable. Subbing is a thankless job most of the time, doesn't pay well and doesn't provide benefits that make the job worth it. There is no way I would do it if I didn't love it (well, mostly). You spend the majority of your awake hours per week at your job. Life is too short to spend those hours doing something that is detrimental to your mental health.

If you do decide to continue, you have to find a way not to take the behavior of these kids personally. Remember that YOU are in charge and YOU are the adult in the room. I know it's hard but you can't let their behavior make you angry. It has to be very matter-of-fact. You can't let 10 year olds control your emotions. Like I said, I don't know how to tell you to separate it, you just kind of have to.

I think to be a sub you have to have (or develop) a really thick skin, particularly with older kids. Sometimes that can come with time and experience, but if subbing isn't something you really love, it might not be worth it to put the time in.
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luv2teach2017 luv2teach2017 is offline
 
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You all are awesome!
Old 12-17-2017, 01:39 PM
 
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I didn't start this thread, but I want to thank you all for your wise and compassionate posts. You are all amazing people!

I'll just add my thoughts. I don't consider myself "thick skinned" by any stretch. But I do enjoy subbing...mainly because I enjoy tthe scheduling flexibility and teaching the younger kids. I can get really upset with how other staff treat me at times. But I manage by working at a number of different schools within 2 districts. I take only grades k-3 because that's the age group I enjoy. If I really dislike a school, I don't return. If I'm feeling upset or burned out, I take a day off. I also continue to work on my teaching skills so that I become more effective as time goes by.

As everyone else has pointed out, no job is worth losing your health for. We all have our struggles. But it is important to step back, breathe, get your perspective, and then do what you need to take care of yourself. There are always other job options. But your health is irreplaceable.

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 12-17-2017 at 07:06 PM..
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lisajohnljc lisajohnljc is offline
 
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I agree with Subbinc...
Old 12-18-2017, 05:39 AM
 
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I've been subbing for a long time....and it does now, for the most part, make me miserable. But it wasn't always that way....

For a long while it was ok caz. i used it as an extra part time income together with 2 or 3 other jobs I had at the time, so I didn't have to rely on it for rent or bills...i could work it when i wanted, and how often i wanted for extra cash and variety...

But then my personal situation changed, and my physical abiity to do those other jobs went away. All of a sudden, subbing was it! And that, is a misserable situation to be in! It is a thankless job most of the time, doesn't pay well and doesn't provide benefits that make the job worth it...

soooo, if you're in a similar situation, find something else to do or you'll lose your mind!
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I agree
Old 12-18-2017, 06:19 PM
 
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LisaJohn said it... find something else before you lose your mind! Give up the Building Sub job, and go back to subbing as a Teacher's Assistant where you are not the only teacher in the room.

Or sub as a Kindergarten/1st grade teacher until you find your classroom management skills. Quite often the Kindergarten/1st grade classrooms have two teachers in the room to help each other and the students.


Or have you considered subbing county-wide as a School Secretary? ... Do you have talents that could apply to being an Art/Music/Physical Ed teacher?

I am praying that you find your spot and use your talents!
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Sorry you're going through this
Old 12-19-2017, 02:34 AM
 
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Sorry to hear you're so miserable. I worked as a Substitute for nine years, but to be honest, I never would have taken a Building Sub job at a school with behavior issues. A low-paying job is not worth it, so my suggestion would be to find another job or just do day-to-day assignments. It is sad to think how the students (at least some of them) would have found it funny if/when you did cry. You don't need that kind of misery.

Hope you have a restful holiday break! Keep us posted as to what you decide to do.


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Just wondering
Old 12-19-2017, 09:08 AM
 
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if you can consult with a placement agency for non-school jobs over vacation?

They might help you evaluate your skills and suggest positions that provide a better working situation. Also, sometimes exploring options has made me content with where I am--other times, I found a better option.

I do agree that if you are as frustrated and unhappy as your post indicates, you might think very hard about switching away from being a building sub. It might offer short and long term relief.
Each school is different and seeing many can lend perspective on where you want to be.

You can continue subbing and do a job search and interviews if you decide you want to change careers. Not at all saying you need to do so. Teaching may well be your calling, just not the current situation. You take a day here and there as needed for your search if you want to explore other avenues. Subbing lets you have some control over your scheduling if you are day to day.

At one point I worked for a temporary agency doing various office jobs. A few were quite interesting, some boring, two offered me a permanent position. This works best in a moderately sized city, of course, and I'm not sure where you are located. But just a thought on giving yourself some recovery time. It's hard to weigh options in the heat of battle--and it sounds like that is where some of these kids are. I expect they won't realize what jerks they are until they are older and it's too late to apologize.
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Old 12-19-2017, 12:08 PM
 
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After reading your story, I feel depressed. I am so sorry... You need to try something new! Maybe move to another school district and get a new job. Hope you find a solution soon!
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Doesn't sound like a good fit for you
Old 12-19-2017, 12:35 PM
 
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I've been subbing for almost 7 years, and know what grade levels and schools I'm most comfortable with. I usually only take k-3rd grade, and have built up a reputation where most of those Teachers have my cell number and I'm their preferred Sub. The elementary schools that I work at used to go up to 6th grade, so I used to take classes up to 6th grade. But stopped taking anything over 4th grade years ago. The stress and disrespect that the 5th and 6th graders often show just isn't worth it to me. Every now and then I take 4th grade, but pretty much stopped taking that grade a couple of years ago also, too much talking back and attitude. You need to know where your tolerance stops far as what grades you take, you couldn't pay me enough to take middle school or high school. I work in 3 different elementary schools and can usually find a job on most weekdays throughout the school year. No way would I be any schools Building Sub either, I like the flexibility to be able to pick and choose schools, grades, classes, days I work etc. That's one of the few benefits of being a Substitute. If you are committing to a fixed schedule and school you may as well be a hired in full time Teacher making full time pay.

And the moment the kids saw you cry was the moment they probably figured they could start running over you, and then they spread that info to other students. Which will just result in more classes acting up trying to see if they can make you break down. So honestly I personally would not have returned to that school after that. Are there nearby schools and districts that you can sign up with? You don't sound like middle school is right for you, maybe you should consider elementary school.
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Old 12-19-2017, 01:50 PM
 
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I agree with Sub14!
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Old 12-20-2017, 12:25 AM
 
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I would just quit being a building sub there, it is definitely not worth the high stress. Tell the administration you simply need the flexibility of being a regular sub and move on.
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