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Fractured Fractured is offline
 
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Fractured
 
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Tried to actually teach a class, students shut down
Old 04-09-2018, 09:08 AM
 
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On Friday I had my worst day as a sub ever, and it had nothing to do with classroom management issues. I was at a school where the kids come from all over the city, and it is supposedly one of the better schools in a lousy district. It was career week, so I sat through two guest speakers and I finally had a class at the end of the day. The teacher had made a weak slide presentation and this was supposed to to be their intro to Lord of the Flies for an "honors" English class. While I think it is not good planning to have a sub introduce a new book, the main idea was to discuss the difference and similarities between utopian and dystopian ideology. I spent my prep researching the author and trying to add stuff to the lesson. A kid asked me what we're doing and when I told them the plan, she said "you're going to actually teach?" I answered yes, abut should have seen that as a sign for the doom about to come.I started out talking about the book and the author, and giving them some background info and trying to to it into the essential questions of the unit. I started probing the kids, trying to get a discussion going. They looked at me funny. I said I was an English teacher so I knew about this stuff and I was trying to help them out. They were disinterested right from the start. They had to do a free write and pair share and then volunteer to discuss with the class. No one wanted to volunteer. They were then given some handouts with definitions. The kids wanted to know what else we had to do, so I said there were some worksheets. It's like Pavlov's dogs, and they just wanted the worksheets and to not do the rest of the activities the teacher had planned out, which was more pair sharing and group work. Out come the cell phones. I told the class we could get through this and try to get something out of it. They complied a little, but the pair sharing and reading time soon turned to talking and cell phone use. Then some of the kids told me they would simply not do one of the final exercises. I was in a daze. These kids had no interest in learning at all. They didn't take me seriously as a real teacher. I was mad I had put in work and tried to make a boring lesson a little more interesting for them. I just put down the worksheets and told them to fill them out, since that is all they wanted anyway. They ripped through the worksheets and just start chatting. I am done with trying to augment lessons and get kids into learning. I was pretty pissed off. I know most kids don't take subs seriously, but I was excited about having a chance to teach. All they want to do is talk and be on their cell phones. A few kids even ditched. Anyway, this was my worst day ever. It just really made you feel like a warm body to babysit and nothing more. I'm done. I'm just going to do as little is required of me for the rest of the year. This job ####ing sucks.


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Old 04-09-2018, 09:54 AM
 
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I'm sorry about what happened. Was this a middle or high school? I couldn't stand it when I had a substitute in high school and half of the class didn't do anything, just chatted and pulled their phones out under their tables...I got done with the worksheets I had to do, and just read afterwards.
I'm sure cell phones are banned in that school - why didn't you tell them to put the phones away once and then take them the next time? And if things get way out of hand, maybe call down to administration and have them come in for a talk. To those students, it's 'Friday afternoon, when's the bell going to ring?'
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Old 04-09-2018, 10:00 AM
 
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It was high school. You can see my other posts about cell phone b.s. They just wanted to finish the busywork and goof off. They were okay about the phones after being told to put them away.
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Tori58 Tori58 is offline
 
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Your key word there is "busywork"...
Old 04-09-2018, 01:32 PM
 
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If they perceive that "busywork" is what they do when a sub is there, then they get pretty upset when they're expected to actually do something.

The truth is, if the regular teacher doesn't hold them accountable for the work they did for the sub, then you can't really blame the students for not taking it seriously. That sounds as though I'm blaming the teacher, but you never know what THEIR experience has been. Have they spent considerable time crafting lesson plans that a substitute can do even if they don't have expertise in that particular area, only to have the district fail to get a sub? Only to have a partner teacher sub in "busywork" or tell them just to have study hall? (I dealt with that almost the entire time I was a teacher - no matter what I left in the way of sub plans, my coworker would tell subs "Oh, just let them have study hall." Or, "Oh, just show them this movie." Or, "Oh, just give them these meaningless word searches and puzzles. Don't bother collecting them.") When students don't take work assigned by a sub seriously it's nearly always because they know they don't have to.
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there are days
Old 04-09-2018, 02:04 PM
 
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I'm sorry that your enthusiasm was met with less interest, apathy. I know that you're excited but you gotta sometimes roll with it and accept days when you're there as warm body ensuring their safety. I hope that you left some feedback.

I know that there's many ways of introducing this great novel but knowing that you had a student that made that comment, I would've also tried rousing their interest by providing them with snippets of video to The Lord of the Flies using youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMBoYBapi8g. I think that this is from 1990. This might've worked if you have the audio/visual equipment set up in that particular classroom. And then try to do some of the things that you tried to accomplish especially if you got your bag of tricks.

For those that "ditched", they should be counted as absent. Let's just hope that they were safe.


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Old 04-09-2018, 07:09 PM
 
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Do not be discouraged. If your passion is teaching novels, short stories , you should absolutely be teaching your own class. I love English and am a wordsmith, too. I made valiant efforts to teach even when most times it wasn't called for - some worked, some failed. If there were no lesson plans, I had a poem and short story as back up. If I hadn't read the novel or they were working on the laptops, I would teaching the meaning/origin of a term, then let them have at it. I had students recite poems - something most schools never do anymore. I kept it short. I would bargain with classes I sensed were restless, if you lend me 35 minutes, I'll give you 10 at the end.
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MaineSub MaineSub is offline
 
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Ah, the irony...
Old 04-10-2018, 02:30 AM
 
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Lord of the Flies was a highlight of my high school career... our English class spent hours on it, thoroughly engaged...

There are so many challenges with subbing. One is "following the plan" when the plan sucks. For that matter, it can sometimes be challenging to follow the plan when it's a good one. That's not just negative... by middle school kids are gaining an understanding of and testing their independence. I've been in classes where they got very excited and I had to decide whether or not to go down that rabbit hole to tap into their enthusiasm. Of course, I explain that in my sub report.

As others have suggested, sometimes it's possible to make deals. I once announced to a class, "Mr. Regular Teacher thinks we won't get this done, but I'm betting we will... and then we can..." Mechanical worksheets suck the life out of learning. They are a necessary evil.

I often post that I own the kids and classroom I'm subbing in while I'm there. So right off, I'm faced with the fact that I'm not totally responsible for what I'm teaching--the regular teacher has made that decision for me. Shall we have the academic freedom debate? (Another topic we spent a lot of time on in high school.) I like some flexibility in lesson plans, but not every teacher allows that. I rarely emphasize the regular teacher's expectations and instructions, partly because it appears she/he's in charge and I'm just filling space. They are MY expectations and instructions.

But even with a great plan, it's still a percentage game. I've had classes where not much learning took place, we just got through it. The same thing happens to the best teachers.

One saying I'm known for at school is "You haven't failed until you stop trying."
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Fractured Fractured is offline
 
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Old 04-12-2018, 05:39 PM
 
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I think this teacher had given me his own slide show to present. He was labeled a worksheet teacher by some of the kids. I was just kind of surprised because I was trying to probe them and get them thinking about the themes of the book. I'd rather do that than read definitions and do worksheets, but I think they've been trained this way. To the person that asked, I didn't even bother leaving feedback about the class. I figured they'd just get in trouble and they technically did what the teacher asked them to do. I don't think most teachers read my notes anyway.
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this happens
Old 04-14-2018, 09:08 PM
 
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I have had days like this, classes like this - and it teaches me to switch tactics a bit faster, and go with it.

I agree with the other comments that students expectations regarding work from the regular teacher will stand in your way.

Best to get these days out of the way and go forward. (I say that, but yikes, I have had those days too and the clock doesn't move fast enough when it is happening)
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Old 04-19-2018, 02:34 PM
 
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I've experienced this same situation numerous times. I'll read the lesson plans and get excited about teaching something later in the day. I'll then spend every available minute researching things to show and discuss and when the class arrives you get the proverbial, "What are we doing today?"

I had this happen recently where I had two current events classes scheduled in a HS. I typically scan at least 3-4 newspapers every day so I was more than prepared. The classes arrived and I found I had 2-3 students in each class. Getting them to watch CNN 10 was about as much as they were willing to do.

I had another situation where I was in for four days for a teacher who had a couple of psychology classes. We talked ahead of time and he wanted me to find some videos to show them. The one day I actually made a short PowerPoint and a few of the students wee kind of shocked. They said they never did that kind of stuff in that class.

Bottom line is you can't take it personal. Many students have been trained that a sub equals busywork worksheets. BTW, I have actually had a few teachers tell classes before I come in that I really know this topic and they should take advantage of the opportunity to pick my brain.


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lisajohnljc lisajohnljc is offline
 
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I hear you Fractured, and agree...
Old 04-30-2018, 09:13 PM
 
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Fractured, I hear you loud and clear, and couldn't agree more!

I subbed for the last two weeks for an English teacher who went on an unplanned last minute vacation!
Never should have agreed to take her classes, and if I had known that she never had any intention of even looking at, let alone grading the assignments she left, I wouldn't have!
The kids knew all along that every day's assignment was just busy work. Told me straight out that she never bothers to even collect or grade anything a sub gives them. So of course, they did not take anything I said or did seriously, and were on their worst possible behavior, for the WHOLE TIME! And yes, that included unbridled cell phones!

One kid did his best to throw me under the bus too, by being a complete obstinate disrespectful you know what when I asked him to put away his phone. Turns out his dad is a "big somebody" and tried to cause problems for me because I reprimanded his kid and sent him out to detention!

We get no support from the administration because we're subs. The other teachers don't respect us really either for the same reason, and the kids think were jokes.
You're right! This job sucks, and I'm done! Looking for something else!

Last edited by lisajohnljc; 04-30-2018 at 09:33 PM..
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