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Management and Discipline Help
Old 05-14-2017, 01:28 PM
 
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I'm a relatively new sub and having trouble with management and discipline. I've had my own classroom and did fine with management, but I feel lost when I'm subbing for a day or two. I find myself repeatedly asking students to stop various behaviors (talking, put that away, sit down, etc) but they always feel like empty threats. There is no real consequence if they don't do it. I need ideas for appropriate consequences when it's someone else's class.

My other struggle is starting the day and transitions. I eventually get their attention, but it just takes way too long. Any suggestions on this?

I understood how to do these things in my own classroom, but just can't seem to make it work when I sub.

Thanks!


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Old 05-14-2017, 06:59 PM
 
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I try, whenever possible, to use the system in place that the students are used to. The means in a given week I may clap rhythmically, say "Give Me Five," say a poem "I'm standing straight and tall, I'm ready for the hall...," whisper "if you can hear me raise your hand."

I never yell, scream, raise my voice, or blow a whistle. As these can be heard down the hall. I often will turn off the lights and wait until the class is quiet. Another technique is proximity, move closer to the students causing the disruption. I also will insert a child's name into something that I am reading out loud; "Jimmy made sure he had two sharpened number two pencils at his desk as Jimmy followed along as Jimmy's teacher read the directions."

Classroom management is difficult at best as a sub. It is helpful to be proactive rather than reactive. I once saw another sub stand on a chair and blow a whistle three times to get the attention of a group of 6th graders.

I sub mostly at the same schools all the time so this helps with classroom management and behavior issues.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:25 AM
 
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Hi frustratedsub: You didn't mention what grade levels you've been teaching. I can only offer help regarding younger elementary kids (K-4th).

You are right. Subbing is an entirely different situation. Because you are a sub, the kids will try to test you right away. I found the most important thing is to take a few minutes first thing in the morning to set the tone and establish expectations.

I review the class rules for "good behavior" with them. I also tell them that I will be writing a report to their teacher about how the day went and show them the teacher's Sub Plan explaining that the teacher has left me instructions. Doing this lets the students know that they're expected to be on task and behaving well, just as any other day.

Virtually all of the classes have assigned the kids to "teams," so I use that to give "team points" throughout the day for positive behavior. The winning team gets rewards throughout and at the end of the day. I also keep a running list of "star students" (students who are on task, listening, polite, helpful, etc.) who will also get rewards.

For the problem students, it's standard to use loss of recess time as a consequence for continually disruptive students (put their name on the board as a "warning." Then add a check mark for each subsequent disruption (one check mark = loss of 5 minutes recess). I also will have a repeat offender sit in the back of the room, apart from the other students. Most of the time, the Sub Notes give me options such as sending a student to a neighboring teacher's room for a time out. (This is a last resort.)

It works much better to use positive reinforcement by spotlighting and rewarding good behavior. As another poster mentioned, it's also important to follow the regular teacher's classroom management structure, if you know what that is. Either way, I've found it's important to set expectations at the start. As I see it, most kids know how to behave well. But it's up to me to set and maintain the standard for the day.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:16 AM
 
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Quote:
It works much better to use positive reinforcement by spotlighting and rewarding good behavior.
Totally agree! One way I do that is to focus on those kids who are on time and on task... during a transition I'll sometimes say, "I'm looking for someone who is..." and then lavish praise and attention on that person. I use a lot of proximity management... I'll stand near a student who's on time and task smiling at them and offering encouragement. I also run a fast-paced classroom that includes a "we don't have time for that..." environment.

I also think it's important to have a laser focus on teaching and learning, not on behaviors. I set those expectations at the beginning of the day... "We have lots to learn today and we are going to enjoy doing it!" I have three classroom rules when I sub:
  1. We will follow directions quickly.
  2. We will enjoy learning.
  3. We will keep Mr. B. happy.
The kids actually get a kick out of rule number 3 and part of the magic of the three rules is they are all about what we will do, not what we won't do. I make sure they get the correlation that one of the ways to keep me happy is by following rule #1 and rule #2. In classes where I sub frequently, just putting on a sad face can change what is happening in the room.

I'm not a big fan of complicated behavior management systems... one other quick technique i use is to review thumbs up, thumbs down--and in between. During the day I'll often hold my thumb up and ask the class to "vote" -- how are we doing? Those who hold thumb's up are asked "What are we doing that's good?" Those with thumbs down, "What could we be doing better?"

I tend to agree that most kids know how to behave well. My job is to help them do so. Just remember those three rules.

I owe a lot of my "style" to a second grader who discussed his difficulties with me one day... he said he does pretty good at home, but when he gets to school there's "so many words and things to remember!" He was quite convinced the problem was "my brain is just too small to hold everything."
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Old 05-15-2017, 04:00 PM
 
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It's tough to be a new sub this time of year. After memorial day, it really heads down hill. There will be lots of good info mentioned here, but just know it is easier when not so close to end of year.


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subbing management
Old 05-17-2017, 12:14 PM
 
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is very different than managing your own classroom daily. You have a relationship with your class that develops over time. When you sub, it's the first day of school pretty much every day--as well as the "Woo-Hoo!! We've got a sub" attitude from the kids.

I finally understood that when I team taught and the students were appreciably different when my teaching partner was absent. It was definitely a different day than we were both present--and only 50% changed!!

In the best of times, the teacher will make her routines known to you (but you may not have time to read them all before the students arrive). Often you have to ask how things are done and hope you get reliable information. You can pretty much tell misleading answers because other students will look confused.

Sometimes, the best thing is to say at the beginning, that you aren't the regular teacher, and some of what you'll do with them won't be what they are used to, but you are the one in charge for the day and you know they will be able to adjust.

Subbing has it's own learning curve and experience pays off. The more you sub, the better you get. You'll find your own rhythm, attitude to portray, feeling tone. I try to remind myself that the class shapes my behavior just as I shape its. Different class constellations will engender/require altered management styles in myself. I usually start the day with the don't smile till Christmas (or noon for one day) and evolve from there as the class requires.
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