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Do you enforce what teacher preaches but does not practice?

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Sirsubalot Sirsubalot is offline
 
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Do you enforce what teacher preaches but does not practice?
Old 02-15-2017, 07:56 PM
 
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I have learned over the years to pick my battles, especially at the high school level. It is not always easy to find that balance between enforcing lesson plans and avoiding a losing battle.

This is even more true when you have never met the teacher.

Such was the case today in a high school Physics class where the students were working at lab tables, but not using any chemicals.

The day actually went well, but it might not have been a good day had I chosen to follow the plan literally instead of listen to the students.

The plan said " No food or drink in the classroom". Of the roughly 175 students throughout the day, I would estimate about 12 had food.

When I caught them,I did not say " put the food away"but I did state that my plan states that that no food is allowed.

I probably questioned abut six of the students. Only one of the six actually put the food away.

One student said " I eat in here a lot and he has never said anything".

A few other students said that he really doesn't care.

One student says that he has eaten in here before, but he would put it away if I wanted him to.

I told him he should put it away, but he had it out eating again a few seconds later after joining his group.

I could have been very stern and insisted the students put their food away, but I believe that the students were being honest in that he does not enforce this.

Insisting on rules that the teacher probably does not enforce is opening the door to defiance.

I chose not to tell the teacher in my report that students said eating was OK, because then he could be upset with me for not enforcing his plan.

The students eating did not in any way affect the classroom function, which entered into my decision not to be a hard a*^. They were working together in groups.

It is my opinion that teachers should not ask subs to enforce rules that they themselves do not enforce.

It is possible all these students are not being truthful, but they seemed sincere.


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Old 02-16-2017, 02:35 AM
 
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I have had this experience as well. The food thing is probably a departmental policy. I was a chemistry teacher, and I enforced the food ban when kids were doing labs. As a sub, I have encountered similar issues with food, cell phone rules, no talking in study hall rules, etc.

If it seems to me in my best judgement that class is not being disrupted, good learning is going on, everybody is safe, and kids are in the habit of ignoring the rule because the teacher does not enforce it, I take the Alfred E. Neuman approach: "What? Me worry?"

The key is to use very good judgement. I try to discern the teacher's goal for the day and be sure we meet it at all costs if I possibly can. I will be tough on any behavior that stands in the way of meeting the goal for the day.
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:45 AM
 
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Quote:
It is possible all these students are not being truthful, but they seemed sincere.
Personally, I err on the side of caution because I've learned that sincerity isn't always a good indicator of truth.

I agree on choosing battles, certainly... and agree even more heartily that teachers who do not enforce policy create confusion and problems for subs. I love lesson plans that include things like "it's okay for the kids to listen to music while..." I may not agree with the instruction, but unless there is a very good reason not to follow it, I will. In the absence of those instructions, making spontaneous decisions about what's allowed can be stressful.

I tend to establish at the outset that I am the authority for that day. I do, of course, base my decisions on the written lesson plan. But I basically refuse to have the "but the regular teacher lets us..." argument. One of the reasons for that is if admin walks into the room and discovers school rules/policy are being violated, I don't think "the kids said it's okay" will be a very effective defense. I'm willing to negotiate with students, that's part of sharing responsibility. But ultimately, I'm the one who must account for what happens.

Understand, I'm not suggesting that the decision to allow food was wrong... just offering some thoughts. I think the current environment tends to put teachers and subs on the defensive and we need to be prepared.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:45 AM
 
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Mainesub, you make a good point.

I am fortunate to sub at a school where I taught for 31 years, so I have a pretty good idea of how such things are handled there. That informs my judgement about how rules are enforced (or not) by various teachers and in the school in general.

If I were subbing at a school where I did not have that context, I would be much more careful about following a teacher's directives to the letter. Whenever a kid challenges the teacher's directives on the plan I would say, "Here's what the teacher's plan says:" and quote verbatim. I am "just doing my job" which is to follow the teacher's plan. Kids usually respect that. Ultimately, I am basing my authority on the teacher's ultimate authority. They know they will have to deal with the teacher the next day, and I do report any problems.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:21 PM
 
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Yes, I consider myself reasonable, but spending 25 minutes in the bathroom, playing games non-stop on your phone when you're supposed to be working, leaving the classroom with your friend without permission, and sitting on some boy's lap are not things any teacher should allow.

And teachers need to stop saying - my classes are sweet/ good/ terrific or something like , "you'll love my classes." Don't they realize that classes test subs all the time?


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Sirsubalot Sirsubalot is offline
 
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:55 PM
 
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These are good responses.

If the students did not seem sincere, and it seemed evident that that teacher does enforce the rule, it is still a losing battle to assertively insist the student put the food away.

In this case I would make it clear that I could not or would not force them to put the food away, but I would also make it clear that since they are refusing to follow their teachers stated rules, that this will be noted in my report. I will also tell the teacher who it was that said it is OK.

If the food disrupts the class, then I would follow the policy of this school which is to contact the Dean's office.
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Trips to the Restroom
Old 02-28-2017, 04:11 AM
 
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The directions from the teacher which says that the students are not allowed to go to the restroom always cracks me up. Lots of students in the middle and high schools where I subbed would simply get up and walk out. I tried to use a sign-out sheet, but the students would put wrong names on it, and since there was no seating chart or list of names. That too, was a joke.
Classroom teachers who have never subbed have no idea what their students are going to try to get away with when they are gone.
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