Bad Sub!

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by microbe, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Dec 26, 2012

    A lot of people do think of subbing as a profession. I know several people that sub for a living, and I believe there are even a few posters on this forum that plan on subbing for the long-term.

    And I'll have to disagree with you on the second point. If they offered more money for subbing, there would be a lot more people attracted to subbing. That would mean more competition, which would mean teachers would be able to choose which subs they like. Right now, in my district, they take what they can get.

    I also thought I'd mention that in my district people don't need a teaching certification to be a substitute teacher. You just need 62 college credits with 6 in teaching, or a bachelor's and the 6 teaching credits are waived.
     
  2. Portulaca

    Portulaca Rookie

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    Dec 26, 2012

    I've been subbing for about 2 years also, including an LTS. I do think there's definitely a certain art to it; I'm pretty good at it, but I know people in my district who've been subbing since I was a kid who are really excellent, so I do think you can keep improving your technique over a very long period of time if you want. In that sense, then, it can be a career...however, nearly all the people I know who do that are women married to teachers, so they don't have to worry about benefits or about paying a full set of bills off the salary.

    I also agree, though, that it can be difficult on your pride for a number of reasons. Part of the issue is that, often, being a good sub means being a good improviser. That is a reasonably difficult skill, and a talent. However, to the outside eye, you come off as fairly mediocre because "improvising" implies an inherent lack of adequate preparation. For example, I usually sub in high school, and I am often left actual lessons in a variety of subject areas. Some plans are more thorough than others, but they are certainly not step-by-step, or anything close to it, which I've heard elementary plans sometimes are. I might be explaining, say, quadratic equations one day...persuasive writing another...Galileo's role in the Scientific Revolution another...conjugating Spanish verbs another. I actually think that it's at least kind of rare to be able to do that with any degree of competence. The thing is, though, that when you only have maybe 45 minutes from the time you find out what you're covering until you start class...at which time you'll also have to be giving a lot of attention to doing behavior management on a group of kids you don't know at all...well, you aren't going to be amazing or polished unless it's something you happen to have a lot of experience teaching. You'll just be "decent" at best ...and that's how people tend to think about you, because it's kind of human nature to want to compare people directly, and the kids obviously don't think about that stuff at all. So they'll think, "Pretty good for a sub, I guess, but they don't explain this stuff nearly as well as Regular Teacher" not, "If they did OK under these conditions, I bet they're great with their own lessons, in their own subject area."

    Also, this is a tangent and maybe it's just me, but it DOES kind of get my goat that many kids (at least high schoolers) seem to think that being a sub automatically means you aren't smart and/or haven't been to college. I've actually been asked, "Wait...if you've been to college, why are you a just a sub?" (To clarify, you need a bachelor's at least to sub in my state, and I have a MAT and teaching credentials too...I wouldn't expect high schoolers to know that off the top of their heads, of course, but it does kind of illustrate the perception issues that even a good sub can have, and it does depress me a bit.) Similarly, one time while I was LTSing the counselor came in to discuss PSAT scores with my sophomores. He mentioned in passing that mine had been really high (this was the HS I attended) and later a girl asked, "If you were smart in HS, why are you just a sub?" That stuff always confounds me, because I have an impulse to correct their impressions, but I also really don't want to encourage the "snobbery" that seems to be behind their sentiments (i.e., judging how much respect to give an adult in charge of them based on their perception of whether she's been to college, etc.)
     
  3. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Dec 27, 2012

    I think it is easy to feel discouraged with subbing. I did it nearly everyday for 2 1/2 years and there were days when I honestly could not understand why I didn't just change careers. I had five interviews in that amount of time and I remember telling my mom after my last one that I wasn't going to anymore and I was going to change my career (I have no idea what I would have done). I didn't need to though because that was the interview that got me my full-time job! I honestly did not think it could be done especially in my content area.

    I think people on here do need to understand that not every area is the same. While some people could have multiple interviews in a short amount of time, others could have very few. This depends on the area and the content. I honestly couldn't find jobs to apply to let alone get interviewed for! I remember feeling Very discouraged and then boom, out of nowhere I ended up with the job of my dreams mid-year! I do think that I understand some of what you are feeling and just want you to know that I was in that spot of a sub last year at this time and I ended up with a job that I honestly did not think that I could ever get!
     
  4. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    Dec 29, 2012

    I agree. There are bad teachers and bad subs. I make around $13 an hour as a sub. So the pay is not great. But, I don't think a pay increase will fix the problem of bad subs. What may help, is more training and PD from district. Since there are some who work daily, have "contracted" ones at the schools who are certified, maybe novice teachers. This may help some.

    But those subs who are bigots, slackers, or just plain rotten need to be fired!

    If the districts and state work together to inprove the quality of subs, maybe we can lesson these bad subs. (which seem so hard to get rid of)

    I had an orientation in 2005 when I began subbing. I took child abuse training (which I also took for student teaching) and FERPA. As a 0.2 FTE hourly teacher I took these again, along with many other trainings including sex offender detection. Subs are not required to take these because they are trained once hired. Some subs have been working in the district for 20 years! If teachers, educational assistants, principals, etcetra have to take these every year, why is it different for subs. We are just as responsible to report abuse, protect privacy, (in our case protect imigration standing), protect kids from sex offenders. I think the districts should require subs to complete these trainings aswell.
     
  5. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Dec 29, 2012

    I don't like it when I hear subs yelling at students and would not call one that yells to sub my classes.
     
  6. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    Jan 11, 2013

    What do you cosider 'ignoring lesson plans' vs. simply not being able to do them? For example, I worked in the library today. The librarian had just finished switching the library around and thus needed new signs to show students where to locate their books. The aide first period did a few of them, but the other aides looked at me like I was speaking another language and had NO idea what I was talking about or what she wanted. So I made the signs and printed them out as best as I could, but left them with a note for her or her aide to cut out and place on Monday. Would this count as ignoring lesson plans?
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 11, 2013

    Ignoring lesson plans means the teacher leaves you plans (something on paper) specifically telling you what to do and you don't do it / do something else / don't do it the way she asks. Did the librarian leave any notes / plans?
     
  8. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    Jan 11, 2013

    Just that she was hoping I could help with the signs and that aides for certain periods have their own special duties to attend to, which they did. If they didn't complete their duties to her expectations I wouldn't know since I've never worked in the library before.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 11, 2013

    Well, it seems that you did what she asked, so don't worry. You're not responsible for the aides, especially if they know what they're supposed to do.
     
  10. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    Jan 11, 2013

    I figured as much, I was just curious what others deemed as genuinely not being able to complete something in a lesson plan vs a sub who obviously said 'f this' and did their own thing.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2013

    Most teachers have some common sense. If there was confusion or technical difficulties, most teachers will understand if things don't get done.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 11, 2013

    I think ignoring lesson plans would mean that the sub did get the activity / lesson done, but not the way he was supposed to. For example the teacher might say 'teach' an activity, and gives specifics that you'll explain whatever it is, then you do a few problems with the class, then you have them work on their own / with a partner, then you go over the answers, etc. And the sub just basically tells the class to do everything on their own, problems 1-20 (or whatever) and she offers absolutely no explanation, the students are on their own, and she didn't get things done the way the teacher wanted them to.

    If you simply don't get through the material for whatever reason, or even if you change some things because you HAD to (and provide explanations) that should be ok. For example if the teacher says have the students work in groups, but you're having behavior issues, and have them work independently, that's not not following the plans, that is you managing the classroom and not let it fall apart. You just need to make sure the teacher knows why you changed those things.
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2013

    To me, ignoring plans can mean either tossing out the teacher's plans completely or not implementing key components of the plans.

    For example, I once left a reading activity for my students. The activity was in line with what we had been working on that week, i.e., not "busy work", and meant to be further preparation for an upcoming quiz. The sub let them have a free period instead. That's a time when the sub completely disregarded my plans.

    A time when the sub left out key components of my plans was when the sub allowed students to work together in groups...on a quiz. The quiz was clearly labeled "Quiz", and my instructions clearly stated that the period should be spent working silently and independently and students were not to access any outside materials during the quiz.

    Both those scenarios made me extremely unhappy. I don't think either scenario counts as an honest mistake. I think that the subs who did those things were lazy and/or didn't care about my class at all. I don't have time for those sorts of subs.

    On the other hand, I've had situations where all but 4 or 5 students in a class were unexpectedly absent (due to a field trip that wasn't announced to the teachers). The students who were there weren't able to do the activity I left because it required whole-class participation. That's not the sub's fault, and I appreciated that the sub was able to come up with a back-up plan that worked.
     
  14. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    Jan 11, 2013

    I once made the mistake of letting students use calculators on their quiz in a math class because the teacher left me no note saying Calculators weren't allowed. At the end of the day one of the students came up to me and said that he didn't allow them to use calculators--which is one some of the students were honest enough to not use them. So I had to leave a note explaining that.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2013

    I don't think that's an unreasonable mistake. Calculators are used as often as they aren't used in many classrooms. I think that the teacher should have told you his policy. It's not really your fault that he didn't.

    In the future, though, I think that you should never let students use any sort of outside resource unless expressly told to do so. CYA.
     
  16. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    Jan 11, 2013

    I absolutely agree. I see each subbing assignment as a learning experience. I learned not to do that again xD
     
  17. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Jan 12, 2013

    This is what I mean by ignoring lesson plans. In my sub plans I wrote to do side A for math & send Side B home for homework. Both sides were completed in class. Then ignore the phonics & handwriting worksheets. She did review sight words, but did not do the worksheet that went with. She did do the extra, if there is time work.

    She rearranged my room to put the cots down differently then stated. I asked her to do a couple of simple things during my prep, cut out lamination, file some papers. Didn't happen. Homework didn't get taken out of folders & the next days homework put in. Oh, she did move the lamination & put it on the chalk tray.

    The homework not getting put in didn't bother me. I try to make it simple, but I know that it may not happen. Same with the filing.

    But the math, when I explicitly said to do Side A & to send Side B home for homework? Doing the extra work before the regular work?

    Rearranging the room to put down cots, when I told you where to put cots (they are separated, not in 2 long rows). I even specifically said where certain students are to be.

    Sorry this is so long. It's just what happened Thursday. Oh, and there was no note, no explanation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  18. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Jan 13, 2013

    I'm one of those. My husband's career just completely eclipsed mine. I was able to work one year full time and otherwise I've been subbing for years. We don't need to benefits, or frankly, the second paycheck, so it's not been imperative for me to work and it's just not really an option with the demands of his job. I feel confident now as a sub and I absolutely believe it is a different skill set than straight teaching. We're thinking of starting a family and I want to be home for my kids and now my credential has expired. Someday I might jump through the hoops to renew it, but right now it's just not in the cards. I really enjoy being a sub now in a high school setting. I think that the kids think of me as sort of a big sister figure. I'm an authority figure, but I'm also not going to rat them out if they accidentally cuss in class. I really enjoy that type of relationship. I really hate seeing crappy subs. If you're not going to follow the lesson plan then what the heck are you doing here? I once had to interview with a principal because he wanted to make sure there were no "guitar strumming subs in his building." I totally understood what he meant. A few bad subs give us all a bad name. On the other hand, sometimes stuff goes wrong- video won't play, can't find the right worksheets, whatever. And I think that some (not all) teachers ought be a little understanding that subbing is like being thrown to the wolves sometimes!
     
  19. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jan 13, 2013

    Ignoring the plans is just that. Ignoring the instructions left. Of course that isn't the same as making a mistake or running into difficulties, having a fire drill thus losing class time, and things of that nature. Ignoring means a sub read the plans andeither didn't feel up to them for whatever reason or thought he or she had a better idea. I've had that happen and I swiftly blocked them from subbing for me again.
     
  20. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 13, 2013

    I always write in my plans that the sub should feel free to move lessons around as time allows...I tend to overplan for subs, so I completely understand if not every thing gets done. I DON'T understand when my plans are ignored however.
     
  21. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 14, 2013

    I sort of have a dilemma. I subbed for an English teacher Friday. We did a lesson that was part of a weekly lesson all English teachers have to cover. It involved 3 vocabulary words, discussing a topic (plagiarism in this case) and writing a T chart (yes/no) for an upcoming persuasive paragraph. By this time they normally cover the 3 words, have vocabulary cards filled out (meaning, synonyms, context, etc) but in this case it wasn't done.

    So anyways, the teacher texted me tonight if I could sub for him again, he's still sick. He said he'd send me lesson plans in the morning. I told him if he wants I can cover the 3 words and have them write the paragraph. I'd print everything and make all the copies, and he won't have to deal with any of it.

    After that, when I saw the sub request he attached short notes about what to cover (imagery, use a few poems, etc, he basically left the details up to me). So now I was thinking I will do this, this is what he wants.
    Then I get a text from him saying 'your idea sounds good. I owe you'. I texted him back asking if I should do this one, (it sounded like it) or what he left me online. Haven't heard from him back.

    Which one should I do? Would it be safer if I did what he officially requested? Or did he actually told me to do what I suggested?
     
  22. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Jan 14, 2013

    It sounds like you should go with your own idea.
     
  23. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 14, 2013

    I think my own idea sounds better because this would be a continuation of what they did last week. They created a graphic organizer for a persuasive paragraph, so they should write the paragraph.

    The lesson about imagery and poetry is not a continuation, because that's not what they did earlier in the week.
    But, as a sub it's not my job to judge or come up with my own thing.
    It's just so unclear of which one he wants me to do. To be safe, I did make a lesson plan on what he officially left me. I haven't heard from him, so I don't know.
     
  24. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Jan 14, 2013

    Honestly, I would assume by his text that he wants you to do your own suggestion. You even volunteered to do all the prep for it,and it will flow with Friday's lesson.
     

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