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Lights out
Old 03-01-2020, 04:27 PM
 
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I sub in a number of school districts and have been running into a situation that I find strange. There seems to be a trend to not turning on classroom lights. When I sub in a classroom where the teacher never turns the lights on, I get complaints from the students that it is too bright. They ask if we can turn the lights out, and a few students actually turn the lights off. Most of the teachers who teach with the lights off are female, and they have lamps and Christmas lights in their room. The male teachers who leave their lights off have no other lights in the classroom.

I don't know how students can read or write in the dark, and it drives me crazy. I get tired of fighting these battles and I'm amazed the administration allows this. I guess as long as the administration is not getting complaints from parents, they don't care.

Anyone else experience this and if so, how do you deal with it?


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Old 03-01-2020, 05:45 PM
 
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Yes, unfortunately, I've noticed the same thing. My eyes are not young, and I personally prefer it quite bright to read comfortably.

But the type of lights typically installed in schools actually bother a lot of people. Either the brightness causes glare headaches or they emit low-level background noise.

If the kids ask for them to be off, I usually compromise and do half on, half off.
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Old 03-01-2020, 07:29 PM
 
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The only time I ran into this, the kids were watching a movie (A completely inappropriate movie btw!) and they complained when I turned the lights on, but I noticed that you couldn't see the screen at all with the lights on, so I turned them off.

However, with most of the kids at the HS expected to do work on their laptops I can understand why they might not want the lights on. Are your kids looking at screens the entire time? ie, computers or phones.
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Old 03-01-2020, 07:52 PM
 
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The districts around me have been replacing the classroom lights with LED ones. They typically install a dimmer as well so the lights can be dialed back and not be so bright.
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Ambience?
Old 03-02-2020, 03:37 AM
 
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Yes... generally specific to some teachers. All of our rooms have windows so "dark" is relative... and it does seem to have a calming influence. Some teachers have floor lamps with incandescent bulbs that offer more "warmth" than harsh overhead lighting. And some change the lighting depending on the activity.

Somebody either has or will write a paper on the impact of different types of lighting and we'll end up having a national debate on it.

My general practice is not to change the classroom environment when I sub--that would be true of lighting.


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Old 03-02-2020, 05:54 AM
 
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I have 2 switches - one turns on all the lights and the other half. I only use half the lights and it is plenty bright! I have a whole wall of windows that the sun shines in all day long, too, so sometimes I open the blinds and leave the lights off.

In my computer lab I have motion activated lights and I only turn a few on because it really isn't needed. I am old, too, so sometimes I need more lights, but not often.

Maybe you should start wearing a headlamp?
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Old 03-02-2020, 11:40 AM
 
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Once in a while I'll encounter a room where the teacher has set up decorative lights or some such. It can be a bit overboard and even get in the way (such as Christmas lights surrounding the white board).

The only time I was really bothered was a 2nd grade classroom where the teacher had covered all the overhead lights with blue plastic sheets. It gave the room a depressing blue cast and made it difficult for me to read. I was so glad to get out of there and would never go back! ( I noticed that teacher is absent a lot. Maybe she should try going back to normal lighting!)
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Old 03-02-2020, 04:14 PM
 
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Those blue screens covering the overhead lights recently became popular in my schools too. I'm not sure I see a big difference in how it affects the people in the room

I am one of those who likes dim lighting. I typically only turn on half the lights or just use natural light when available. It seems calming to me. Especially when they are working on iPads, bright light is unnecessarily harsh (to me).
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Old 03-02-2020, 04:26 PM
 
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Yes, unfortunately, I've noticed the same thing. My eyes are not young, and I personally prefer it quite bright to read comfortably.

But the type of lights typically installed in schools actually bother a lot of people. Either the brightness causes glare headaches or they emit low-level background noise.

If the kids ask for them to be off, I usually compromise and do half on, half off.
I'll be 65 next month and can usually get by without reading glasses if the light is bright enough. I sometimes have problems reading very light pencil and really small fonts. I have no idea why people use 8 or 9 point fonts.

I haven't encountered the low-level background noise very often.

It seems like many of the lights I run into have two wall switches. One switch turns on the middle row of lights, the other switch turns on the two outside rows. I will usually compromise with the two rows.
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Old 03-02-2020, 04:28 PM
 
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The only time I ran into this, the kids were watching a movie (A completely inappropriate movie btw!) and they complained when I turned the lights on, but I noticed that you couldn't see the screen at all with the lights on, so I turned them off.

However, with most of the kids at the HS expected to do work on their laptops I can understand why they might not want the lights on. Are your kids looking at screens the entire time? ie, computers or phones.
I will try to make the room as dark as possible when they are watching a video. Sometimes they need some light when they have to take notes or fill out a WS while watching the video.

Every class is different. Some teachers leave all their assignments on Google Classroom. I don't know why that would make a difference. I'm typing this response with a bright overhead light.


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Old 03-02-2020, 04:32 PM
 
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The districts around me have been replacing the classroom lights with LED ones. They typically install a dimmer as well so the lights can be dialed back and not be so bright.
I can't ever remember seeing a dimmer switch.
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Old 03-02-2020, 04:32 PM
 
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The only time I was really bothered was a 2nd grade classroom where the teacher had covered all the overhead lights with blue plastic sheets. It gave the room a depressing blue cast and made it difficult for me to read. I was so glad to get out of there and would never go back! ( I noticed that teacher is absent a lot. Maybe she should try going back to normal lighting!)
I had to have those covers due to it being in a student’s IEP. I didn’t like it, either, but sometimes it is not the teacher making the decisions.

We leave our lights off a lot. We have a whole wall of windows and no curtains or blinds. Most days it is bright enough.
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Old 03-02-2020, 04:36 PM
 
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Maybe you should start wearing a headlamp?
My kids bought me a headlamp for when I mow the grass in the dark.
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Old 03-02-2020, 04:40 PM
 
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luv2teach2017's Message:

Once in a while I'll encounter a room where the teacher has set up decorative lights or some such. It can be a bit overboard and even get in the way (such as Christmas lights surrounding the white board).

The only time I was really bothered was a 2nd grade classroom where the teacher had covered all the overhead lights with blue plastic sheets. It gave the room a depressing blue cast and made it difficult for me to read. I was so glad to get out of there and would never go back! ( I noticed that teacher is absent a lot. Maybe she should try going back to normal lighting!)
I've been running into the Christmas lights. They are usually accompanied by some couches, bean bag chairs, and some floor lamps.

I've run into the blue paper over the lights 3 times. The first was an elementary emotional support room. The other two were regular high school classrooms. It gives everything a fuzzy feeling.
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Old 03-02-2020, 05:41 PM
 
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I had to have those covers due to it being in a studentís IEP. I didnít like it, either, but sometimes it is not the teacher making the decisions.
One more reason why subs should be kept in the loop. If there is something weird going on it would be nice to be given some info. Not even which student it is, or whatever. It's a matter of respect, to me.
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Old 03-02-2020, 07:10 PM
 
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I've run into the blue paper over the lights 3 times. The first was an elementary emotional support room. The other two were regular high school classrooms. It gives everything a fuzzy feeling.
Yep...fuzzy as in hard to focus. That lighting certainly doesn't create a warm and fuzzy feel. I don't know how anyone can stand that depressing blue day after day. To me it was like teaching class in the fog.
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Old 03-02-2020, 07:57 PM
 
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My classroom has three lamps and multiple rows of Christmas lights on the ceiling. I have glare shields on the lights, so I don’t have a bright room even with overhead lights on. We do have a lot of natural light. I have to keep the shades pulled enough to keep sun out of the kids’ faces.

We have 1:1 Chrome devices and Smartboards. We can see those better with less light.

I have to wear reading glasses sometimes due to low light. Otherwise, I like it, too. Everyone, except maybe one, on my entire team has a similar setup.

My DH’s classroom (not in same district as mine) has programmable lights with a ton of different brightness and lighting options.
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Old 03-02-2020, 08:01 PM
 
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One more reason why subs should be kept in the loop. If there is something weird going on it would be nice to be given some info. Not even which student it is, or whatever. It's a matter of respect, to me.
Whether it was part of kidís IEP or not, I donít see that it would matter whether you knew. It wouldnít be like youíd take down the light filters while you were there. (At least Iíd hope not.)
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Old 03-03-2020, 02:48 AM
 
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I'll just add that there's "some" research strongly suggesting blue filtering is helpful and healthy for computer use... I'm trying it with my newest pair of computer glasses... definitely lessens glare but I can't say it's a huge difference.

In my "sub pack," I carry one of those clip-on booklights and have been considering a USB light for my laptop for those low-level lit rooms. I sorta like the ambiance and the fact that classrooms aren't lit like a factory floor or office building.
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Old 03-03-2020, 04:00 AM
 
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I had to have those covers due to it being in a studentís IEP. I didnít like it, either, but sometimes it is not the teacher making the decisions.
Quote:
It gives everything a fuzzy feeling.
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Yep...fuzzy as in hard to focus...To me it was like teaching class in the fog.
I haven't seen those yet, but it seems really inefficient and unfair to me - to fix something for one person, they "break" it for 20-25 others?


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In my "sub pack," I carry one of those clip-on booklights
Oooh, that's a good idea!
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Old 03-03-2020, 08:03 AM
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In my "sub pack," I carry one of those clip-o
Old 03-03-2020, 09:24 AM
 
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I carry a clip on booklight, too. I attach it to a clipboard in the classroom. (There's a nice big one for sale called Mighty Brite (light weight but nice big bulb).
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Old 03-03-2020, 11:38 AM
 
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I can still see pretty well in low light situations but I don't love this craze of blue light covers and/or a dozen lamps scattered around the room. Where I've seen this the most is in a school that has a high incidence of trauma-induced anxiety in the student population. They feel that a classroom that's not too brightly lit will be calming and there is some research that seems to show that those blue light covers reduce anxiety.

In other schools, it seems to be mostly about chromebooks and iPads. If they're getting glare on their screens, students will often ask to turn off lights, which is a reasonable request. If I'm in a room with no windows, though, I always decline to have it completely dark in the room.

In my current part-time job, and in my previous job, I was blessed with rooms with big windows. I usually don't have to turn on any lights unless it's very overcast outside. My bigger problem is getting the room dim enough to use the smart board

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.I haven't seen those yet, but it seems really inefficient and unfair to me - to fix something for one person, they "break" it for 20-25 others?
I agree that it's very unfair how the rights of a few students can impact the learning environment for all students, now. But that's how it's done these days. My grandson is in 5th grade. He's been in one class where students had to be evacuated from the room about once a week because one of his classmates would have meltdowns and throw furniture. He was in another class where the entire class had to endure the smell of feces nearly every day because one of their classmates defecated in his pants when he was upset. (This was 4th grade.) To me, neither of those students should be in a regular classroom but I don't get to make those decisions.

A couple of years ago I was subbing for elementary PhyEd and a kindergartner was running around knocking other kids down. I told her to go take a break in the safe zone until she could play nicely. She had a total, screaming tantrum and informed me that "We don't treat Miss So-and-so's (SpEd teacher) kids this way. We get to do whatever we want and teachers can't do anything about it." Out of the mouths of babes....

So, if teaching in blue murk is the worst thing I have to deal with, I'm pretty grateful.
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Old 03-03-2020, 01:32 PM
 
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Any thoughts about the couches, bean bag chairs, and beach chairs in classrooms? These are usually the same classrooms with the lamps and Christmas lights. I almost always sub for 6-12 and the bean bag chairs and couches are a distraction. Kids will argue over these chairs or several will pile on one bean bag chair.
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Old 03-03-2020, 03:49 PM
 
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I wonder if it's a problem with the special education leadership at those schools. I don't see stuff like that.

Maybe they need somebody less scared of doing what is needed, for everybody. Sounds weak.
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Old 03-03-2020, 03:52 PM
 
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I've seen bean bag chairs and upholstered chairs in the classroom. Don't know why they're needed. I never had anything like that in my classroom.
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Old 03-03-2020, 04:20 PM
 
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I've seen bean bag chairs and upholstered chairs in the classroom. Don't know why they're needed.
Oh yeah, "flex seating." The idea is that, if kids are more comfortable, they're in a better frame of mind for learning. This type of seating is supposed to promote collaboration and connection in the classroom.

I've seen classrooms where no students were seated at normal desks or tables. Every kid had a tall desk and a stool, or a table and a wobble stool, or a rocking floor chair with a clipboard. There were several beanbags and a sofa in the back. I wish I could say that kids were great learners in those kinds of classrooms but I didn't see that at all.

As a sub, I always assume that, when there's a special, comfortable area in a classroom there are some sort of behavior expectations for who is allowed to use that area, but rarely is that information made available for subs.
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Old 03-03-2020, 05:32 PM
 
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Apparently, subs are on a "need to know basis," and apparently they don't think we need to know anything...
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couches, bean bag chairs...
Old 03-03-2020, 06:34 PM
 
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Any thoughts about the couches, bean bag chairs, and beach chairs in classrooms?
Lice. My thought is lice.
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Old 03-03-2020, 06:54 PM
 
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Oh yeah, "flex seating." The idea is that, if kids are more comfortable, they're in a better frame of mind for learning. This type of seating is supposed to promote collaboration and connection in the classroom.

I've seen classrooms where no students were seated at normal desks or tables. Every kid had a tall desk and a stool, or a table and a wobble stool, or a rocking floor chair with a clipboard. There were several beanbags and a sofa in the back. I wish I could say that kids were great learners in those kinds of classrooms but I didn't see that
Yep. It is called flex seating. I've seen it in primary grades too, usually in addition to standard tables and chairs. It's often also offered as a reward to students who've earned the privilege.

I dislike it because it causes squabbles over who gets to sit where, and because it departs from assigned seating, it is difficult to keep track of who is sitting where. The teacher's notes rarely go into much detail about these seating arrangements. It may serve a purpose, but, it's just one more hassle for a sub.
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Old 03-03-2020, 09:49 PM
 
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I always turn the lights on. Some kids come in and say itís really bright, but I find that a lot of kids will just fall asleep with the lights off. I turn it off for films or if itís a computer class and they need to see the screens. I will do the half and half on them if kids ask.

I hate any non desk seating. It just creates conflict for the younger kids who want to sit in it.
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Fundamentally...
Old 03-04-2020, 04:28 AM
 
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Comments are drifting a bit in the direction of what I see as a fundamental issue in schools and classrooms: individuality versus community. Personally, I'm a big believer in "shared management" of the classroom--that is the classroom is a community and we (teacher and students) make some decisions as such--it's a fundamental philosophy behind some of the restorative justice activities and I see it working even in the younger grades. However, we are challenged by the fact that there seems to be an increasing insistence on "individuality" wherein some kids place no value on community. "I want what I want and I don't care how it affects the others or the rest of the class." And that's when the fights develop over lights, flex seating, etc.

Productive group discussion becomes difficult because "My opinion is the only one that matters." We sometimes label it "spoiled brats" but it actually runs deeper than that.

Just last night I had an interesting conversation with a mom who has a special needs child. She's very frustrated because she thinks he should be getting less accommodation and learning that the world is not going to clear a path for him... she believes he must make some effort and learn to "fit in." Quite the opposite of what we usually run into.

At some level it's interesting. At another level, it's frustrating. But I also believe the kids are simply reflecting society as a whole and we may be a generation away from seeing any sort of shift. In the meantime, we are challenged to find ways to manage classrooms that include an increasing number of students who have little value for community, sharing, etc.
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Old 03-04-2020, 10:30 AM
 
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I will shut off a bank of lights to improve the image on the projector, otherwise most classes I cover need light. Keeps the students awake also.

I truly believe that children today are being raised by a generation that honestly believes the rules donít apply to them. I had an experience on a recent sub job with a parent that proved that in spades. Iím not sure what the outcome of the incident will be, but if my job has devolved into being berated by a parent in front of students for merely doing my job, I am really done with this job. I am fairly sure that admin has already sided with the parent.
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Old 03-04-2020, 01:39 PM
 
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I truly believe that children today are being raised by a generation that honestly believes the rules donít apply to them.
Sadly, I agree.
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Old 03-04-2020, 02:28 PM
 
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if my job has devolved into being berated by a parent in front of students for merely doing my job, I am really done with this job. I am fairly sure that admin has already sided with the parent.
This is exactly how I feel and I'd say it's almost a foregone conclusion that admin will lside with the parent. They always do.

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I truly believe that children today are being raised by a generation that honestly believes the rules donít apply to them.
For sure.

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I wonder if it's a problem with the special education leadership at those schools. I don't see stuff like that.
It's a problem with special education legislation having some unintended consequences and some parents of special needs kids militantly defending their child's right to disrupt the classroom at will. If you don't see stuff like that, I would say that a) you sub in schools that don't have a high incidence of special needs and/or trauma students or b) you sub schools that have the sense to get kids that will disrupt the class to that extent out of the classroom when subs are there or c) you sub in schools where administrators can and will stand up to parents and not flinch at threats of lawsuits.

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Maybe they need somebody less scared of doing what is needed, for everybody. Sounds weak.
Yep.
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Old 03-04-2020, 03:41 PM
 
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Flex seating is not used for regular, everyday seating. It is earned and used as an incentive/reward. In my class itís not to be used at all when there is a sub. Everyone is in a regular, assigned desk.

I donít use beanbags or couches or lounge chairs. Mine is just short stools, tall stools, standing desks, tables.
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bodhimom bodhimom is offline
 
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Old 03-04-2020, 04:00 PM
 
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Of course, the sub is never in the loop about what is different when there is a sub because we "don't need to know" anything. Besides, even if we are given that respect, making things different when there is a sub isn't much better because we have to hear the whining (and more) about "Mrs teacher lets us."

Please take all that crap out when you have a sub so we don't have to hassle with and listen to it all day.

Learning should be their incentive.
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Old 03-04-2020, 05:23 PM
 
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bodhimom, I hate that you dislike your job so much. I always enjoyed my subbing days, and it was a great way to prove myself to prospective employers. I was treated as well, although not necessarily equally, as anyone else.

Itís definitely tough to step into the teacherís shoes for a day, but it is equally tough for the regular classroom teacher to prepare for every single possibility that might come up. For instance, how could one manage to ďtake all that crap outĒ when the majority of days missed are due to illness or emergency?
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Old 03-05-2020, 03:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Itís definitely tough to step into the teacherís shoes for a day, but it is equally tough for the regular classroom teacher to prepare for every single possibility that might come up. For instance, how could one manage to ďtake all that crap outĒ when the majority of days missed are due to illness or emergency?
I couldn't agree more... I've seen teachers come in early, sick as a dog, to get materials and plans ready for the sub. I've had thoroughly written lesson plans go out the window when a school assembly was called at the last minute--unplanned things that the regular teacher has to deal with including student meltdowns, emergency evacuations... I've had a first-grader experience a major panic attack during a fire drill. One of my kindergarten students was suspected of making a bomb threat. (You can't make that one up.) One of my favorites was a lesson plan that had at the beginning, "One of the students is prone to seizures... I can't tell you which one (confidentiality, HIPPA) but I can tell you what to do." I'd, of course, prefer to know who but knowing how is sufficient. I could go on--I've been subbing over ten years and involved at school for nearly twenty. And just when you start to think you've seen it all, you find out you haven't. I've learned to expect the unexpected.

In my book, the regular teacher isn't responsible for what happens in the classroom while I'm subbing, I am. I do not deny that there are plenty of challenges... but the regular teacher has those challenges and many, many more.

I think one of the most important characteristics of a good sub is flexibility because the system isn't going to be designed for around our preferences and for our convenience. That's one reason we're called "subs."
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open seating
Old 03-07-2020, 11:27 AM
 
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I was subbing in a kinder class the other day where there was no assigned seating. While doing assignments the kids were allowed to move about and sit wherever they wished. The teacher had them wearing name tags for me, which helped me track them somewhat. But the open seating, as usual, made my job much more difficult.

The kids chose (of course) to sit with their friends, which encouraged them to chat and be off task. They also were in constant dispute over favorite seats and who sat near them. And of course, since they were unused to being assigned a seat, requiring a student to stay in place for a time out was nearly impossible.

These days i sub exclusively primary, but I have subbed 3rd through 5th a fair amount too. This class was at one extreme of the spectrum. The best arrangement I've seen in general is where the students have both assigned table seating and assigned carpet seating for most of the day.

Then at the end of the day (for kinders) or one day a week (for 1st or 2nd) as a "reward" for good behavior, they may have "choice time." This means they are allowed to move about and color, read, play with legos, blocks, puzzles, toys, with different playmates. Even then, there are rules, such as only 4 kids per "station," or even that they must choose one station and stay there. They must keep voice levels down, and if they bicker, they get a time out.

I realize that each teacher has their own preferred style, and that the "open seating" arrangement may work great for some. But as a substitute teacher, I need something I can get a handle on for classroom management purposes. (My personal opinion is that freedom should be earned, not given.)

The best case scenario is where the teacher sets up the class for either assigned or open so that the sub has the option. After all, it's inevitable that teachers will need a sub on occasion. Sometimes the teacher may need to be out unexpectedly for several days. Life happens. The smart thing is to set things up so that the substitute teacher can pick up the reins without too much difficulty. At least that's how I see it.

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 03-07-2020 at 11:51 AM..
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