A little discouraged

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by gypsy, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. gypsy

    gypsy Rookie

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    Nov 29, 2010

    I have been interning/subbing for one district for about two months now. I know I have paid work everyday now until the end of the school year, which is great. I know I'm fortunate to have this opportunity. Lately though, instead of feeling like I'm growing into a better sub/teacher, I'm starting to feel discouraged. I think the hardest part for me is impromptu teaching; I feel very inadequate in teaching a lesson in readers and writers workshop off the cuff. Math is easier for me, but there are still instances when I find myself unsure of how to explain something (more so at the intermediate level than primary) because I haven't had a chance to review the material or refresh my memory on certain concepts. I feel like more times than not, when I explain something, the kids are either non-responsive or they look at me like they have no idea what I'm saying. It's making me question my teaching abilities. Sometimes I go home wondering if I'm cut out for this. I wonder if this is a rational feeling as a sub.

    Despite how discouraged I feel sometimes, I really like being in the classroom and in a school community in general. I have had difficult classes, but nothing I would consider horrible; it just gets tiring asking kids to 'stop this' and 'do that'. I try very hard to do the best job I can, but lately it seems all I notice are my areas of weakness and nothing of a strength. I realize the class will never respond to me the same way they do their regular teacher, but what can I do to feel less discouraged? How do other subs feel about their abilities? Are there mental exercises you do for confidence? I think my spirit is just a little shot right now.
     
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  3. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Nov 29, 2010

    I only did a few months of daily subbing and it was several years ago, but I have to say, based on the little experience I had, your feelings are not unusual. I mean you're put in a new classroom each day, with a new set of kids, and when you wake up in the morning you have no idea what you'll be teaching. That's a tough thing to wake up to each morning.

    So, I don't actually have any advice on how to feel less discouraged or frustrated, I just wanted to say that I think the way you feel is totally normal.
     
  4. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Nov 29, 2010

    First of all, good for you for getting a solid M-F assignment till the end of the yr. I wish I had a gig like that!

    Regarding your feelings about whether you're cut out for teaching/subbing, I can understand that. I can honestly say that teaching was never my passion, but I somehow stumbled into this line of work & am trying to make the best of it for now. Just do your best. I don't know if you're religious, but I pray that God will help me through anything I encounter.
     
  5. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Nov 30, 2010

    If this is your first go-around, then for sure I think, feelings of doubt, etc. creep in. For me personally (though it's been quite a while), I know I had many different thoughts about my job. I can distinctly remember dreading getting calls to certain schools or assignments because I had a difficult time for various reasons. But now (years later), I never have that feeling of dread anymore. There are assignments I clearly prefer, but now it's simply a matter of preference than an issue where I'm scared/unsure of myself.

    So in your case, I think it's the same deal. And I know precisely what you are talking about where you are tired of the "stop this/do that" thing. In fact, as I think about it now, I'm actually in a rut like that now. I'm being inadvertantly laxed in how I deal with classes, etc. My recent classes have not been the model of class behavior, and I think a large part is because of me; I'm being a bit lazy too. I think it's quite natural.

    After the break (whether this one upcoming, or the next school year), you'll snap back into a better frame of mind. I hope I will too. ;)
     
  6. midwesttchr

    midwesttchr Rookie

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    Dec 1, 2010

    One of the hardest parts of classroom management for a sub (other than the obvious - i.e. being a strange face to the kids, not knowing the routine, etc. etc.) is the constant shift of age ranges! For instance, I have subbed many a kindergarten classroom, as I am doing today. Problem is, the last few days I've been in various fifth grade classrooms. Those particular classrooms have actually been relatively easy to manage (although I've had my share of very difficult fifth grades too).

    And now, here I am, in a typical kindergarten classroom with needier-than-average kids for this age. The para apologized to me on their behalf, as they basically never act like this. At least the apology lets me know she knows I'm doing the best I can and that it's more the kid's choices than what I'm doing to manage them. Still, even with the kids choosing to behave inappropriately, I feel a little dazed after being with upper elementary for a while.

    Essentially, I definitely feel discouraged at times. It's easy to get into a "don't/stop" rut with the position we have in this field. You will notice - as you work longer - how you'll tend to feel automatically more comfortable with a certain age range, even if it's the first time you're meeting the kids. For me, I tend to like 2nd-5th grade more. There's also the occasional K-1st grade class that pleasantly surprise me, but I'm much more insecure in that area. However, I still take those jobs, because 1) it's money and 2) the only way to defeat insecurity is to gain experience, which in turn helps kids get to know you better and make returns to those classrooms easier each time.
     
  7. midwesttchr

    midwesttchr Rookie

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    Dec 1, 2010

    Oh, and a comment on impromptu teaching:

    I have ALWAYS struggled with Math. I passed all college courses in Math thanks to tutors. When I student-taught fourth grade, I would spend at least an hour the night before brushing up on what people might consider basic math concepts. However, it would pay off, as I'd be prepared to teach and help the students.

    As a substitute, obviously I don't know what math lesson they're on, much less the privilege of looking through the material ahead of time. When I taught decimal conversion to fractions to the aforementioned fifth graders, I got the blank stares as I tried to follow both the book and remember my own pastimes with the concept. Needless to say, I could have done better. And you know what? I will, when I am a bonafide teacher with time to prepare! All the teacher needs to know is we did what she wanted done, and the rest she can fix when she gets back. :)
     
  8. gypsy

    gypsy Rookie

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    Dec 1, 2010

    Thanks for all of the responses. It helps to know I'm not alone on this (even though I always knew I wasn't) because it can sure feel like a lonely journey when you don't really have a consistent mentor, or even a staff 'friend,' to help through mistakes and other insecurities. I'm trying to learn how to forgive myself when I don't do something as well as I'd hope or when I make a mistake; it's very challenging for me, as I'm sure it is for many. Deep down I know that because I really want to succeed in this, I will eventually when it all clicks and comes together. These hurdles can be overwhelming. I have to say it's been quite a ride being forced out of my comfort zone, having to face various fears and challenges. I guess it's all part of the process!

    On a side note, what are some mistakes some of you have made as subs? What do you find your reaction to be when said mistakes happen?
     
  9. midwesttchr

    midwesttchr Rookie

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    Dec 2, 2010

    I make mistakes EVERY day, in some form. I have yet to make what I'd consider a "serious" mistake, i.e. accidental property damage or injury, or one that involves administrative intervention.

    Usually, my mistakes involve forgetting very routine things in the wake of rushed preparation or adjusting to a grade level's schedule, i.e. forgetting to call the office for lunch count on time. One time, I handed out advanced level readers to the strategic small group! I had no idea I did this, until I realized they were struggling WAY too much and double-checked the lesson plans. Oops. :lol: I simply laughed at myself, apologized to the kids and handed them the appropriate leveled reader books.

    In the notes to teachers about the day, I am always as honest as I can be. I have made mistakes such as forgetting to give an assignment or teaching a particular part of the lesson, and I let the teacher know and sincerely apologize. I'm sure they appreciate the honesty and would rather you tell them first, instead of a kid piping up about it later and wondering why you never told them. I have not been called to sub only 2 times this school year so far, so I must be doing something right. :)
     
  10. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

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    Dec 2, 2010

    I worked for a year as a sub before teaching and I hated subbing! With such a passion, that I thought I'd hate teaching. Subbing is hard and stressful and unpredictable! I love teaching though, and for me at least, it was a foot in the door.
     
  11. The Substitute

    The Substitute Rookie

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    Dec 2, 2010

    Hi Gypsy,

    If you have been teaching for 2 months then you are very early on in your teaching career. It is only natural that you struggle with how to best teach the curriculum – after all you’ve got all the curriculum from k-12 to cover and you’ve only been at it for 8 weeks!

    The first year of subbing can be very rewarding but it also has its challenges. This is one of them. Most first year subs experience exactly what you are describing, so please realize that you are not alone. Just be patient and allow yourself to experience the difference a year makes. You will begin to become much more comfortable at coming into a classroom cold and pulling off a strong series of lessons, even when the material is new to you. Just give yourself the time. I’ve been subbing for 5 years now and very little phases me any more, but I still remember my first days on the job!

    Also, keep in mind that being a sub means that you will always be at a partial disadvantage to a regular classroom teacher when it comes to delivering a well taught lesson. That’s just how it goes. So hang in, believe in yourself, and good things will start to happen!
     
  12. Subber

    Subber Companion

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    Dec 4, 2010

    You'll get the hang of it. Stay put. Survive for now and you will thrive in time:).
     

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