Advice please!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by K-5_teacherguy, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. K-5_teacherguy

    K-5_teacherguy Companion

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    Feb 2, 2015

    I am taking over a 4th grade class in less than a month for the rest of the year, to cover a maternity leave. In the meantime, I am subbing in this room two days every week while the regular teacher has stress tests done for her baby. I am really starting to struggle with the fact that my general expectations for the students are different from the regular teacher’s expectations. Little things like raising your hand to answer a question and not shouting out, transitioning quietly, and walking down the hallway silently are things I prefer my students to do and this teacher simply does not expect so much (I observed her room for two days before I started subbing, so I know this for a fact).

    As you could imagine, it’s difficult to get the kids to behave better for a substitute than they do their regular teacher. Once I take the class over full time, I will most likely take 10-15 minutes each of the first few days to practice these things and get them down, but what do I do in the meantime? Just suck it up? I feel like a failure when my class can’t do these simple things, but it also isn’t fair for me to ask them to follow a different set of rules with me than they do with their regular teacher. Any advice? Do I just need to patiently wait it out until the class is my own for the rest of the year?

    I should probably also add that I am a first year teacher. I just finished student teaching in November so part of it may be that I’m still trying to get my feet wet with subbing and teaching in general, and as a result I'm doubting myself a bit. If anyone has any input or similar experiences they could share that would be great. Thanks!
     
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  3. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Feb 2, 2015

    It's definitely harder for subs, there's no doubt about that. But it's also very hard to take over a class at this point in the year, especially 4th graders. I did it once :) You're definitely going to want to have your behavior management under your belt before you take over the class full time. I would suggest practicing some of the techniques you have in mind that you'll use in your own classroom when you're subbing. In the morning tell the kids, "Okay your teacher isn't here today, so things might be a little different," and give them a rundown of what your expectations are. Clear expectations and consistency are key. Obviously you can't do the consistency now, but as long as you stay consistent throughout the day and follow through on what you say you're going to do, they should start to listen.

    Example, "I'll give you one warning about raising your hand, after that I'm going to ask you to put your head down for a moment."
     
  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Feb 2, 2015

    I don't think it is too early to begin setting up your expectations for the class. You are already there 2/5 of the week. Make your expectations clear and teach them that the rules are different with you. You can do it authoritatively, but nicely. Good luck with the position!
     
  5. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Feb 2, 2015

    All of the above, and don't forget to practice with them. Show them how you want them to line. Have them practice it over and over. Someone once told me it take 17 successful attempts at something to make it habit. Praise publicly, redirect quietly (especially if you don't want to engage in power struggles). And use your "I" statements. "I take quiet classes to recess (or music or lunch)." "I call on people who are raising their hands quietly." Etc.
     
  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Feb 2, 2015

    As others have said, I think it's fine to start setting your own expectations at this point. Be sure to keep in mind, though, that it may be difficult for the students to readjust on a daily basis, considering they have you for two days a week, and someone else with different expectations for the other days of the week.

    With that said, you should also keep in mind that sometimes it's okay for students to make noise/talk during some of those instances you mentioned. Kids HAVE to talk and make noise at some point during the day. Accepting that I had to give my students opportunities for talking, making noise, and being silly - learning to choose my battles - was one of the best ah-ha moments I've ever had since becoming a teacher. I think new teachers (my former self included) often come in thinking that students must be quiet all day, if not because a room full of noisy kids can be annoying, then because it makes the teacher look like he/she lacks classroom management. That's not the case at all. You just need to be able to tell when learning is taking place and when it's not. If they're making noise while they transition from one activity to the next, is it really a big deal as long as they're paying attention during the lesson? Just something to keep in mind.
     
  7. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Feb 2, 2015

    I did roughly the same thing a few years ago (took over 4th grade class for maternity leave, around this time). I changed the things I wanted, and kept the things that I liked. You should do whatever you feel like you need to do... if it means changing the way things go, so be it. The only concern is that you want the kids to look back fondly on your time with them... you won't want to change things in a way that makes them resent your leadership.
     
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Feb 2, 2015

    I'm going with Bella on this one. Know the difference between the noise of engaged students versus the noise of distracted. Sometimes the sound levels are similar, but the resulting levels couldn't be farther apart. I like fourth grade, and I can tell you that they will bristle if you try to treat them like first graders. Please consider giving them enough independent time to learn to fly. Noise isn't the issue most of the time, if enthusiasm for learning is present. How about asking the teacher why she lets the things slide that are driving you nuts? Her answers could be illuminating and insightful.
     
  9. K-5_teacherguy

    K-5_teacherguy Companion

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    Feb 3, 2015

    I definitely think this is part of my issue, and it stems from my student teaching. I worked in a very urban school, and most of the kids had severe behavior issues. As a result, my cooperating teacher ran his classroom in a way that was almost militaristic (literally, one day he had the entire class spend their 30 minute recess practicing how to cap their pens more quietly because he thought it was done too loudly during class). While that example is obviously extreme, it was still very necessary to have strict expectations because if you didn't, you would lose control of a class in that environment (give an inch, they'd take about 500 miles). The school I'm at now is in a suburban environment, so that type of micromanagement just isn't necessary, but I'm still trying to adjust to the transition.

    I think you are right though. As long as learning is still taking place, I need to do a better of job of letting certain things go.
     

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