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frustrating week
Old 10-23-2009, 09:29 PM
 
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First of all, some background on me. I am new to subbing this year. Have had no prior experience in the classroom since college. So, I have no teaching experience before taking up substitute teaching. I have not taken any education classes. Therefore, I am very, very green behind the ears in this arena. The only education in education that I have is OJT this school year. Have a degree in Computer Science. Unable to obtain work in this downward economy.

I was to do a 3 day 7th grade LA assignment this week. Day one, the first period was great. I didn't have to get onto them one time. Told them what was expected of them for the day and they were quiet and on task the whole time. I was excited and hoped that the whole day would be that way. Well, not the case. The next class comes in and was hard to deal with. There were a few students that refused to quit talking as I asked. I had a hard time taking attendance. Throughout the period, talking continued and I repeatedly asked that they be quiet and work on the assignments left by their teacher. Some were just in utter defiance and being smart with me. Some refused to do anything but talk. I would walk around the room and some would have done little to nothing. This continued with other classes. The last class came but they were switched with another class as they were working on a special project. Day 2 came and period 1 still good although not as good as they were on day 1. After a few minutes, they quieted down and did their work. I had problems with the rest of the classes including the last one which was an honors class. Had to stay on the last class to keep them on task and not talking so much. Needless to say, was disappointed in the last class since they were an honors class and expected them to be easy to manage. Actually on day 2, the second class was worse than on the first day. The same students were more smart mouthed with me. I refused to let them get away with it and tried to warn them that if they didn't act the way they were supposed to, what their options were to straighten up or be dismissed from class. They continued their defiant ways. I was at the end of my rope with that class for the day. Since they steadily talked when I tried to talk to them and smarting off to me, after class I approached a student standing outside my classroom. I warned her that if she acted defiantly what would happen but that she had choices and that I would like for her to act right. I must have yelled and didn't realize how loud I was. Someone walked up who may have been the Assistant Principal. She wanted to know what was wrong. I explained what had happened. I was very frustrated because all of the Language Arts classes were attending a book fair that day. Their teacher said in her plans that if they were quiet they could go but if they were not quiet it would be ok to keep them in class. I told every class at the beginning that if they acted good they could go but if they didn't act good they were not going as I had permission from their teacher to keep them in the class if they were not quiet. In the library, lattes and hot chocolate were being served.
The kids love to go to the library for lattes. Anyway, at the beginning of the next class, period 3, another LA teacher stepped in and asked the kids to be nice, give me respect and yada yada. Those kids were good for the duration of the period and went to the library for lattes, etc. The rest of the classes made it to the library but not without struggles in class. In another class, I sent an acting out kid to another teacher. The class was pretty good after that. The last class of honor students continually talked when asked not to and not focusing on their work. Finally, I asked who wanted to go to the library and everyone raised their hands. I told them that I expected them to be quiet and do their work in order to go. They settled down more after that.

Anyway, I was due back to that class this morning but got a call from the sub coordinator that I didn't need to come in. She said that she thought the teacher decided to come in. I checked to see if the school was still on my list of schools to work at and it is not. Am disappointed that I am no longer allowed to work at that school. I feel very bad in how I handled myself with some kids. At the same time, I so wish that it didn't have to be so hard as a sub to keep order in the classroom and teach. Some of the kids are honest with me in that when subs come in they turn bad or worse.

Not all kids give me a hard time when I come. Thankfully, having some good kids makes it more bearable. Also, some kids who give me a hard time apologize later for their bad behavior. Then their are those who have no remorse whatsoever.

Thoughts? What can I do for myself to make my experiences a little more enjoyable when I meet opposition? How can I improve on my classroom management?

Sorry for the long post.


Janet


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That was me when I started too
Old 10-24-2009, 04:48 AM
 
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Yep, long post - that I could have written. I started in Spring 2008, had a horrible experience in a middle school and never went back to that school and almost gave up sub teaching, but it pays more that being a para sub and that was my other option. I was having my own personal recession before the county joined me!! There's another MS in the district where I had a few good experiences and then a horrible experience and never went back to that one either! It gets better. They know how to push your buttons and will do it to get out of work. They love to get someone ELSE in trouble (us). I felt like I walked into a buzz saw. Really, it gets better.
I spent the summer reading posts on this forum, taking notes, printing some particularly helpful posts. When I tried again, it was so stressful that I had to have a day or two off in the middle of the week to calm down. But I spent the time thinking about how I could do better, what I could learn from the tough experiences. I kept reading posts on this forum. If you find a poster that is especially helpful to you, read all the posts by that person. Augustus was really helpful to me and a few others. You will find yours, I'm sure.
This year I am doing well. I avoid MS, but in Sept I took a job at the HS and when I arrived, the secretary said "oh, he starts at the MS" EEEEEKKKKKKK!!! I took a deep breath and did it. It went so well that two teachers came in and got contact info and this next week I will do a 2-day assignment for one of them. So, really you get better.
One key is to stay calm while you are learning. Don't let them see your frustration and irritation. That is really hard, but bullies feed off your misery and that's what they are doing to you. You are being bullied by experts!
I could keep going but I gotta get going AND I've said it all in posts here. read them! and let us know how it goes. Remember, we have all been there!!!!!
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Old 10-24-2009, 07:48 AM
 
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Thank you for your response. I appreciate it very much!
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Old 10-24-2009, 08:26 AM
 
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I wish the whole world could see your post! So many people think that teaching and substitute teaching are easy. It is absolutely a skill. The reason teachers take lots of education classes to get credentials is because they are useful and necessary. LOTS of kids are difficult to work with... as teachers we have to be smarter and quicker than the kids. That's where our extensive education comes in...

Look for some workshops on classroom management. Some districts offer some afterschool sessions and you can get some ideas. There is A LOT to learn! Different strategies work for different groups. I can usually "feel" what my strategy should be with a group within a couple of minutes. BUT, I have lots of strategies in my tool bag, and I have lots of experience. I think the kids can also sense if you're unsure and then take advantage of you.

Truthfully, I've never had a day anything like what you've described. But, I have certainly had some challenging days and worked with some challenging kids.

Good luck to you.
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Old 10-24-2009, 09:29 AM
 
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Thank you so much for your input. I really appreciate it!


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Some ideas that might help (long)
Old 10-24-2009, 01:07 PM
 
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Janet, hi! Oh, I feel your pain! My first few MS sub assignments left me feeling a little crazed, too. (It didn't help that I didn't have lesson plans, so I was making things up as I went. That's the worst.) Anyway, here are some ideas that I've been using. They seem to help me.

Before the kids walk in, I write on the board, "Sit in your assigned seats. No talking unless I call on you." Then after they sit down, the first thing I do is tell them, "I want everyone sitting in their assigned seats. If you're not in your seat, now's the time to move." Now, I've had a seating chart only once! So I actually have no way of knowing where kids are supposed to sit. But this lets kids know that I know they like to get away with sitting next to friends so they can yap, and I have had kids move when I say this, so it helps. If they ask, my logic is that they'll want the teacher to get the correct info on them--who misbehaved, who cooperated nicely. If you have time (you may not), make a seating chart so you know who's who. It helps to use their names. I never have time to make a chart, but I do call roll and grab a few names.

I don't promise rewards: "If you do this great thing, then I'll do this wonderful thing." (Lattes? Wow!) In my experience, it doesn't work. The only thing I tell them that if they don't get the work done in class, then they'll have it for homework. That's followed by having them get out their agendas before we ever start the lesson and write the homework assignment into the planner; they can delete it if they get the work done. I leave surprise rewards for after they've gotten everything done: "OK, we have two minutes left. You've done a good job today. You can talk to your neighbor quietly until the bell rings."

Never sit down as you teach or supervise the kids. Stay in constant motion, moving around the room to check on students. If kids misbehave, walk over and stand next to them. Sometimes that's enough to refocus them. If they continue to misbehave, reseat them: "Joe, you sit over there," and point at the place where you want him to move. No arguing about it, either; stay with him until he moves.

Don't smile! Seriously. I found that if I smiled at kids when they came in the room and tried to be friendly, they thought they could get away with more. So I start out as a hard-a$$ and then relax a bit if the situation warrants it. In the MS where I work, I may have kids twice or three times during the day (homeroom, religion, and the core subject). By the third time, I can relax a little, and they know me and what I want, so they behave better.

Try not to raise your voice. That's my bugaboo. I tend to speak loudly anyway, and last time the teacher next door stopped by to ask "if everything was going OK." It didn't occur to me that the two rooms were divided by only a folding partition, so she probably heard me telling people, "NO talking!" Oops. I gotta learn to be stern without being loud.

Have more activities planned than you think you'll need. Ideally, the teacher you're subbing for will do this, but frankly, I don't think most teachers think (or care) about what they leave for subs! So bring your own activities with you. For example, grab some seventh-grade writing prompts off the Internet; then you can assign, say, an X-paragraph essay on whatever the prompt is and put 'em to work. Or take a few minutes before class begins to look at the day's assignment and think how you can spin it into a short essay if needed. Or have them write a paragraph or two on a particular topic and include, say, four vocabulary words in the text. Take a short-short story, read it aloud, then have students answer questions you give them. Etc. Be sure to set rules for the assignment--how many sentences, how many words in each sentence, that sort of thing--or they'll turn in junk and run through it faster than you want.

Set a deadline for the kids to get the work done. For example, a sixth-grade LA teacher left a vocabulary quiz--20 multiple-choice questions--for me to administer. I told the kids they had 10 minutes to finish it (which was perfectly reasonable), and that I would start the stopwatch on my watch once everyone got the papers. They gasped and shrieked, "She doesn't make us do that!" That was followed by absolute, complete silence and concentration. And everyone in every class finished the test in well under 10 minutes. You could do the same with the assignment the teacher leaves.

You might want to invest in some books on substituting and study them for ideas. Utah State University has some books on substitute teaching that talk about classroom management and teaching techniques; they're for different grade levels, so get the one(s) that apply to you. There's also one called "Substitute Teaching from A to Z." Take a look on Amazon. I don't like everything they include, and a lot of it is best used in elementary school, but you might find ideas that you can apply. I think About . com (close up the spaces) has a substitute teaching site that could be very useful. I forget what it's called; a search ought to turn it up.

Another thing you might want to do is learn some teaching techniques. For example, I always carry a book of graphic organizers, thinking that I might hit a lesson where we can use an organizer on the board and work on some ideas, or assign it as seatwork to be done independently. There are a ton of lesson plans on the Web, but I'm not sure how useful they are for subs. I used to think they were, and I've tried printing some out, but I have run into issues with them. (For example, once I tried to use a math game that totally mystified most of the students and irked them. I don't like the idea of bringing games to class; again, I've found it undermines my authority and lets the students think it's play time.) I would take a look at the teacher section of Scholastic.com for activities. The New York Times' Knowledge section has a lot of teacher stuff, including graphic organizers and the like, that you can use, but their lesson plans are complex. Anyway, if you develop a bunch of teaching tricks, you can use them in the framework that your teacher leaves for you. For example, you can get one student to answer a question and then turn to another one immediately and say, "What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?" Or "Explain why you say that." That sort of thing. You could try think-pair-share if the class is not too rowdy; have them turn to their neighbor, talk about a question for a minute, then report back to the class. Things like that. These techniques can make the class more engaging and make them pay more attention; occasionally, it helps redirect them too.

Does any of that help? Hang in there! This is a tough job. It's stressful and tiring and requires you to think on your feet and react immediately to stuff you didn't expect. I can say that after subbing this year, I have learned so much that if/when I finally get my own classroom, I will leave all kinds of help for "my" substitutes! You're gonna do fine. Don't worry about the school being removed from your list. There are others, and you'll develop a group of schools that you'll want to work for and who'll want you to work for them.
Barbara
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Old 10-25-2009, 08:22 AM
 
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That helps. Thanks for your input Barbara.
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Old 10-25-2009, 09:55 AM
 
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"Never sit down as you teach or supervise the kids."
I sit down a lot, all the time.
"Don't smile! Seriously. I found that if I smiled at kids when they came in the room and tried to be friendly, they thought they could get away with more."
I smile at them a great deal. I smile when they come in and I smile when I kick them out.
I don't post this to be at odds with Barbara, only to show that all must find their own way.
"in utter defiance and being smart with me."
Don't put up with it. The first time someone is rude send them out. Send them to the hall, to the office or to the teacher next door (check with that teacher before school, they may not want them). Just look at him and say "out". They talk between classes and word will spread.

Last edited by Augustus; 10-25-2009 at 09:56 AM.. Reason: redundant
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Old 10-25-2009, 06:12 PM
 
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Thanks Augustus. Everyone has their own style and Barbara's style is not mine. Although I appreciate Barbara's advice. I tend to smile. When they come in, I smile and say hello, good morning or whatever. If I do MS or HS, I sit down unless teaching or I feel the need to circulate because too much talking is going on. When I do ES, I have to walk around to see what they are doing as well as maintain noise control.

I appreciate your input Augustus. Thank you so much!
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I'm a smiler too
Old 10-26-2009, 06:10 AM
 
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I smile when they come in, but not a tentative smile - a strong "I've got this under control" smile!!! I will be in MS 2 days this week and I'm thinking about whether or not I will smile!!!


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Old 10-26-2009, 03:40 PM
 
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Thanks Thor!
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:20 PM
 
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Here is what I do, I tell the students what behavior I expect from them and what the consequences are if they don't live up to those expectations. Above all YOU MUST FOLLOW THROUGH no matter what , even if you don't want to. If there is a neighboring teacher that will let them come to their room, tell the student to get out and go see mr or ms x or the office. After they leave then write up a referral if necessary and leave it for the teacher.
also, don't be afraid to stop the class and explain to the kids that they are not being respectful(most MS and/or HS teachers have a rule to be respectful of others)if a particular student keeps on misbehaving don't be afraid to throw him or her out of the class, and leave a note for the teacher in that regards.
Write down the names of the student or students who was misbehaving for the teacher when they return. If you know that the teacher gives them participation points tell them that you will write down their name and mr or ms so and so will deduct participation points.
That works great.
Tell them that if they work hard and finish their work, they can talk fo the last 10 minutes of class.

Last edited by mstngmom; 10-26-2009 at 09:24 PM.. Reason: not finished
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Old 10-27-2009, 05:02 PM
 
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Thanks for the ideas! I will be using them!!
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