Advice and comments wanted on my reprimand subbing in an ARSD classroom.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by oldstudent, Aug 6, 2014.

  1. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Aug 6, 2014

    Apparently I have forgotten how to be an effective sub.

    After over 14 years of no complaints, I just got my 3rd complaint in the last 1 and 1/2 years from three schools in the same district. I will know soon if they released me from the district, since the handbook states you "might" be released if you get complaints from three school sites.

    I wanted to get some opinions on strike #2 last year.

    I have worked in numerous assorted Special Ed classes over the years, and have been requested in quite a few. I have worked with a couple hundred aides over the years, and have had no problems with any of them, until last year, when I subbed in an ARSD K-3 class.

    I feel as though I was defeated in this class before I even met the students. One of the two aides asked. " Are subbing for Mrs.------.
    When I replied yes, she turned her head in disappointment. It became evident she wanted nothing to do with me, and did not ever speak to me. I did ask some questions of the other aide, but neither one initiated any conversation with me, or offered any advice or feedback.
    There was an agitated Kindergartner who took a swing at one of the aides, who tried to keep him restrained, as I went about my business to teach the rest of the class. he was probably agitated for a good half an hour, and i was asked to fill out an incident report after school.
    While she was tending to this child, i was almost done with a lesson that I thought was going well with the rest of the students.
    About three to five minutes before completing the lesson, A student said " I need a break." We were 90% finished, so I said," we are almost done dear".
    The aide then yelled at me from the back of the room ' Ah GIVE HER A BREAK".

    a few weeks later I was called into personnel as a result of my " unsatisfactory service".
    The superintendent did not really tell me what i did wrong, but I did tell my side of the story,although she did remind me i could be released if i get another complaint.

    I e- mailed the teacher to apologize and to find out what I did wrong.

    She said the aides are the experts and i did not follow the their suggestions. She also said that I used too many words which can agitate autistic children, and she said that i made the mistake of trying to 'sooth' the agitated child by touching him on the shoulder, which only makes them more agitated.

    Of course, the aides gave me no suggestions, and it seemed obvious that one of them wanted nothing to do with me from the beginning.
    My touching of the student was to lend some support to the restraining aide in case she needed it.

    Should I have been written up for this day? Is being "too wordy" a problem across the entire autistic spectrum?
    The student is already being restrained, is my touching him on the shoulder going to make it worse?

    i feel i paid the price for aides who chose to ignore me rather than advise me.
     
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  3. lilia123

    lilia123 Companion

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    Aug 6, 2014

    That's strange that they would complain about you to the superintendent instead of having someone from the school talk to you about the children needs and better ways of handling those situations. What you did is pretty typical of most subs who are not familiar with working in an Autistic classroom. It sounds to me that they wanted someone else to sub that day.
     
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Aug 7, 2014

    More important than this situation that does indicate you could use a bit more experience working with this population, what other types of complaints are showing up with this district? You may need more training to meet their levels of expertise expectations, which I would reflect upon, personally. Times and strategies do evolve and change, so are you staying current on suggestions and rationale? In some SPED classes, the aides become the sub in charge and the sub becomes, in essence, the aide for the day. It is actually quite common in these specialized classrooms with challenging behaviors.

    Just a thought.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 7, 2014

    I can see why you were written up in this situation, although I do think that a writeup was a bit much. I think that a conversation and a suggestion that you seek out additional training on working with this student population would have been more appropriate.

    I find it odd that you would sit through an entire disciplinary action with a superintendent and never once ask for an explicit explanation as to why you were being disciplined or reprimanded. Even if you asked and your request was initially ignored, it doesn't sound like you pursued the issue or repeated your request. That just seems totally bizarre to me. What was discussed at this meeting if not the events that lead up to the reprimand?
     
  6. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Aug 7, 2014

    I did ask the superintendent what the complaint was, but she only provided a word for word description of the complaint she received from the school which was " I did not follow standard procedure."
    This is when I provided my side of the story. She provided no more details, and I do not recall whether I tried to get more details from her.
    She provided no rebuttal to my side of the story, but merely reiterated that a third strike could mean being released.
    I got the more detailed explanation from the e-mail I requested from the teacher.
    I have actually worked in many classrooms with autistic children, but have never seen a child in one of these classes have a "meltdown'.
    Ironically, there are Special Ed classes where students do regularly have meltdowns, and the teachers in these classes have me down as their Number 1 requested sub in these classes.
    this is evidence of the wide diversity of Special Ed populations, and varied opinions on how they are ideally handled.
    It is odd that I am the most requested sub in what are regarded as the most difficult classrooms in the district, and that in another classroom and school I get reprimanded.
    Of course, this is really the first time in over 17 years that I felt unwelcome from my assistants in the room, which probably influenced my methods in the class.
    I would think that if I was not following their procedure, they would have set me straight towards the beginning of the day, but I suppose they disliked me so much, they wanted nothing to do with me.
    I will also add that since subs have no contracts, and no unions to back us up, we must be careful how much we want to " pursue ".
     
  7. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Aug 7, 2014

    I also recalled a moment in this class when the more friendly aide made a student finish his work before he could start something else,
    so I found it inconsistent when the other aide yelled at me to "give her a break."

    It was then that I realized the animosity for me was not all in my head.
     
  8. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    Aug 7, 2014

    Wow, sounds like a bunch of uptight ninnies to be perfectly honest. They honestly cannot expect people to come in fully trained to work with AU students for minimum wage. Sorry. So basically, you had someone finish their work that was almost done, comforted a student by putting your hand on their shoulder and talked too much? Wow, how dare you!
     
  9. lilia123

    lilia123 Companion

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    Aug 7, 2014

    From my experience as a special education teacher, I can defiantly tell you that teachers vary a lot in their classroom strategies even within the same population of students. It is a bit extreme to just go report you to the superintendent they should of had a school administrator address the problems with you first. It sounds like the aides were very impatient with you and need to understand that you are not with those kids everyday and other classes do things differently.
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Aug 8, 2014

    Without seeming insensitive to your plight, three strikes in any district within a year and a half seems like a bit more than I would expect. As for the chain of events that happened last year, I can only guess, which is useless. There is an old saying that there are always at least three sides to every story, your side, their side, and perhaps a truth that lies somewhere undiscovered in the middle. That is generally true for most confrontations, and I am not picking on you. Perhaps this is not your district. If you are successful in other districts, perhaps that is where you should focus your efforts. I subbed for ten years, and do know that there are different cultures and expectations in each district. Just the one incident would not have been problematic, but coupled with another two incidents, now there is a potential problem. I would respectfully suggest that you have a face to face with the administrators/superintendent to see what can be done to get your actions in line with their expectations. This really isn't about a single incidence, but about the three incidents in sequence. If they find the majority of your work to be above reproach, they will almost certainly give you guidelines that will help you prevent future bad marks. Barring that, I would redouble my efforts to work in other districts where you seem to be in step with the norms of those districts. Reliving this one incident is not highly productive, given the time that has passed, and the fact that a third incident has apparently also taken place. I wish you luck in finding out how you may be able to improve your level of service within this district if this is where you want to work, or else by finding districts more compatible with your skills and needs. :2cents:
     
  11. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Aug 8, 2014

    The subs in my district receive no training. They walk into my class and are at the mercy of their experience, my sub plans, their common sense, and the mood of my aides on that particular day. Sometimes you are just a warm body with the right qualifications to watch the kids.

    Sometimes aides can dislike a sub right off the bat and almost sabotage that person. I've seen it happen in my room and other classes. It also happened when I was a sub.

    Autism classes are very, very structured and if you don't know the routine you are likely to do something wrong at some point in the day. It's a given. Causing a meltdown is not the end of the world. Touching a student's shoulder was not the best choice but it happened. Take it as a learning experience. Those classes can be scary (as is mine) to anyone walking in cold. Frankly, I don't know how people are able to sub my class.

    You tried that District and it didn't work. Take jobs where you are appreciated and aren't walking on glass - that might be avoiding the autism classes completely. It's not a reflection on you personally. It's a matter of being the right match.
     
  12. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Aug 8, 2014

    I currently work for three districts, but this one provides about 70% of my work, and therefore the most consistent stream of income.
    They offer work virtually every day, except for the first and last weeks.
    I also get lots of job opportunities from my favorite district that also pays more, but they usually call the morning of the job, or the night before.
    The district where I am on thin ice offers many jobs in advance, and often a choice of jobs, so I hate to give them up unless they dump me first.
    I have worked for six districts over 17 years, and have gotten no write ups in the other five.
    I have been with this complaining district for nine years. It took seven and a half years to get my first complaint.


    I certainly am aware that there are two sides to every story, and I do not absolve myself from some of the blame, but based on the reasons read to me from the teacher and the superintendent, I do not believe these incidents warrant a write up in my personnel file.

    I have worked for an estimated 1200 teachers over the years, and I am absolutely certain that not all of the other roughly 1197 were delighted with my service. They are just realistic enough to not expect everything done the way they want all the time.

    If a principal had chosen to speak with me about these complaints, and offered advice, I would have welcomed that; but now with three write ups in my file, it is not likely I could be hired full time elsewhere, or even brought in as a sub elsewhere.

    And of course, putting total blame and responsibility on the sub is much easier from an administrative standpoint, since we have no union to back us up.

    I did not file a complaint that I was yelled at by an aide, but I am certain this would not go in her file even if I had.

    I actually have no recollection of touching the student's shoulder, but since the teacher said that the aides said so, I most likely did.
     
  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Aug 8, 2014

    My guess is that you have enough positive references to be hired elsewhere. I would assume that if your sub applications were anything like mine used to be, it is a far cry from the teacher application forms. You have districts that love you - list them as places you work. Should you no longer work in this one district, just drop it off of your resume, and no questions will likely be asked. I do believe that an unemotional interview might be productive to improve sub/admin relationship in the district, and maybe no one every really considered have sub training or orientation. You might be doing a service to your fellow subs. My concern is that you are fixated on one of the three incidences, when there is no way to change it, while there may yet be a way to resolve the three events by asking for help and guidance. The single incidence could deteriorate into an I said/she said that only ruffles feathers over all. Finding out, however, what they are looking for overall may bring every thing into focus. I do hope that they will talk with you in the air of wanting to help you grow. If that isn't to be, simply find other districts to sub in - it should not be a problem.
     
  14. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Aug 12, 2014

    Well they haven't dumped me, at least not yet, but these complaints did alter my decision today.

    Ironically I was offered four jobs (automated system) to begin the year, and two of them were 16 days in Autism classes.

    However, I had already accepted a one day assignment for this Friday in a district where my record is clean.

    I really hated to cancel the first job of the year, since this would not help my standing in the other district, so i reluctantly did not accept any of these other four long term jobs

    I lost a lot of money, but I can't afford to be dropped down a notch with my other main district.
     
  15. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Aug 23, 2014

    Keep taking the jobs that have the least amount of baggage with them. That is your best option at this point.

    The number of autism classes is increasing in my district. They have a hard time finding subs that work one or two days and want to go back. The same is true with the aides.

    Good luck.
     
  16. teachld

    teachld Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2014

    Hugs*

    Hugs* I sympathize with your situation.

    I am a special education teacher, but I work with the LD population. I've known teachers who work with the autism spectrum population that were more experienced and stuff like that happens all the time in sped.( especially in those classrooms)

    As a sub, you wouldn't know what to do in those situations, you aren't trained to know that. So don't be hard on yourself.

    To me, it sounds like you were a victim of a toxic work environment. You have to consider the demographic of the school, If it is affluent or not--- Some places are very " back stabby" and office politics are unfair. You being a new person, you wouldn't know who the sharks are in the building. Not every school is warm and fuzzy. I know, because I once subbed, and I have taught in some really awful institutions. Every school is different, every staff is different.

    From reading your post, the staff seemed very unfriendly and probably judged you walking into the door. They probably didn't want to work with you again, so they complained about you. In sped, if a sub is decent, they will keep using the same person over and over again, and I think they feared that they had to work with you again, so they tossed you under the bus... perhaps glorifying the incident to make you seem incompetent to administration. ( so don't take this personally)

    But honestly, that's their loss, not yours. If I were you, I would take regular positions instead. (To protect my job). ASD is difficult and very complicated... even, as a sped teacher.... I'm afraid of ASD. so I wouldn't be too hard on myself. You should maybe even consider switching districts... for a brand new start. Hugs * I hope it all works out for you.
     
  17. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Aug 23, 2014

    Thank you for your kind words.

    Ironically, when the superintendent read me the response from the school, they concluded with saying that 'I was a nice man, and they want to give me another chance."

    Of course they probably knew I would not accept their offer.

    Also, the last two years, the head of the Special Ed department for this district actually called me and offered me a long term assignment to begin the year in Spec Ed classes with serious behavior issues.

    I am not really being hard on myself, I am being hard on them.

    The aides in affect, did not tell the teacher the truth since the aides did not make a single suggestion while I was there.
    One cannot " not follow" instructions that were never given.
     

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