Describe your worst day as a sub

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by Vince, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. Vince

    Vince Rookie

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    Jan 14, 2011

    This should be a fun read, or maybe bad memories for some.

    Mine was at a middle school. 7th graders. The teacher had left a book that we were all to read, a VERY boring book. I can't even recall what it was, but it was not interesting like The Outsiders, which I have read with other middle schoolers.

    Anyway, this one kid would not stop talking and disturbing the class. The first step the teacher said was to send him next door. He flat refused. I told him if he didn't comply that he I'd have to call a supervisor to remove him.

    He started cussing me out. I don't give a F. I'm not doing nothing wrong and you don't have the right to tell me what to do. We're reading this stupid a$$ book and I don't give a F about it or you.

    I was in total shock and disbelief. Up to that point that school had always been a good day. I stumbled getting to the phone to call the office, which just made all the kids laugh, which didn't help.

    The assistant principal showed up and took him out. I chose not to return to that school for the rest of that school year.

    So what's your story?
     
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  3. Mark94544

    Mark94544 Companion

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    Jan 14, 2011

    Imagine the situation you described, except that you discover that you can't figure out how to dial the classrom phone!

    On my first day at a middle school, I had a similar situation (a defiant student who wasn't going to stop disturbing the class), and finally I had no choice but to send the student to the office with a referral slip.

    But then I discovered that the phone system at this school didn't work the same way as in other schools in the district. I dug around the desk and looked at the instructions, and finally found the info I needed -- except that it was info for the prior school year, before the phone system was changed.

    (Of course, that student never arrived at the office.)

    From that day on, I always made sure that I knew exactly how to call the office for assistance if I needed it.

    Another important lesson: always check the fire-drill instructions at the beginning of the day, and if there's something unclear or missing, ask another teacher or someone in the office.
     
  4. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Jan 14, 2011

    I have my own room now, but I started as a sub. I used to think I wanted to teach, but I walked in to a K room with 26 kids and no plans. Even worse, it was their first day they weren't allowed to take a nap. It was my 2nd subbing job (the other was 5th grade). I was a lost little lamb and it was a week-long job. I don't know how they didn't tell me not to come back the 2nd day. We were loud and messy and I don't know that they learned anything, but they all survived and so did I (barely). I walked away with many new gray hairs and the realization that K was NOT FOR ME! lol
     
  5. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    Jan 14, 2011

    My worst day....
    1. I was subbing in a second grade class. It was the first time I subbed. The children were the loudest, rowdiest class I had ever seen. I didn't know how to control them and one even stood on the table and jumped off.

    2. Years later after staying home, I was just getting back into subbing. I subbed in one classroom where the teacher was very very orgainzed. She had die cut bears, balloons etc. They were organized by size and colors. She had literally thousands of them. She kept them in a box with little file folder dividers. But she kept the box near the floor on the bottom shelf. One boy knocked it off. The die cut papers went every where. I spent hours after school was out---until the principal kicked me out at 7-8, trying to reorganize the box.
     
  6. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Jan 15, 2011

    I'm not going to say "Nothing comes to mind..." because I don't want to jinx myself (I'm knocking on wood as I type). I have had a middle school defiance situation (early in my career): he didn't cuss me out, but he did openly defy me (He was wearing these Dr. Seuss type puffy hands, I told him to remove to start class, he refused...) Funny, I walked the kid (just left the class by itself for that minute/two) to the office, which was probably 100 feet away.
     
  7. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Jan 15, 2011

    My worse day was in a 9th grade class my first year of subbing. I was not surprised to soon read in the rating charts that this school ranked in the bottom 10% in the state.

    It was an Algebra class. I was trying to remember my Algebra, and started to put some samples on the board.

    This class had no windows, so when the lights went out it was pitch black.
    As I had my back to the class while writing on the board, the lights went out, and textbooks started to fly across the room.

    Since there was no light at all, I could not move , or I would hit by a book.

    While books were flying, the girls were all screaming. I never knew whether the girls were afraid of being hit by flying books, or if they were just trying to add to the disruption.

    At the end of the ordeal, there were dozens of torn books strews all about the floor.

    I invited a prime school official to see what the students had done. He was either a school security head, or the Principal.

    He just blamed me, telling me I need to keep them under control.
    This happened the first two periods.

    Later in the day, there were students hovering about the door who would not sit down. This same official came by my room, but he said nothing to the kids, he just told me to not let them stand by the door.

    Needles to say, I did not return to this school.
     
  8. Mark94544

    Mark94544 Companion

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    Jan 15, 2011

    A small flashlight is one of the "essentials" to include in your "sub kit" that you take with you to every classroom.

    When I taught full-time, I also had an "interior" classroom with no windows, and when the lights went out it was pitch black. There was no emergency lighting system (another teacher told me the district had paid to install a fancy emergency-lighting system the year before, then paid to have it removed a month later).

    I went to Home Depot and bought an emergency light, which plugged into the wall, continuously charging the battery until the power went out, when it turned on two bright floodlights.

    Unfortunately, it didn't kick on when someone just flipped the light switch off, and the light switch was in the corner beyond the door, where I couldn't see it while students were passing. Usually, my overhead projector was on, so I could still see; I also had a flashlight (hidden, but within reach) at the front of the classroom.

    One day, I was videotaping myself, with a camera at the back of the room that captured only the front of the classroom (watching a video of yourself teaching can be incredibly helpful, as a new teacher). I posted signs and told students that I was taping myself to evaluate my own work, and I explained that the camera wouldn't capture students while seated, but covered the front of the room, including the entry door. While leaving the classroom, a student brazenly reached out and flipped off the light switch -- with the event clearly captured ON CAMERA.
     
  9. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Jan 16, 2011

    As a gym teacher sub... have had some tempers especially with competitive boys...

    I think my worst was this teacher left me a ton of "catch up" work that she hadn't gotten done. I thought it was WAAAAY too much for the age I was teaching!!! I even asked a couple others & paras who worked... I being a sub want to get done what's left too me, but with some help of those others... I didn't feel as stressed out about getting it all done!!! (I think we did most, though)!!!
     
  10. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jan 16, 2011

    The worst was when I was subbing in a middle school with split sessions (students attended in one of three shift due to overcrowding). Third session became the place where the discipline students were dropped along with the less experienced teachers. The last time I subbed as a phys ed teacher was under those circumstances.

    The phys ed teacher for third session had quit but wasn't being replaced because he was technically taking sick time for the rest of the year. I was told when I arrived at 10am that all I had to do was take roll and offer them balls to bounce. Students could do whatever they wanted. I had no lesson plans to carry me through to dismissal at 6:30pm.

    Extra students starting wandering in to cut class and play with their friends. Locking the doors wasn't an option. One of the FCS teachers (whose students gave me the second worst subbing experience a few months before) dumped a bunch of her students into the gym and left them there, explaining over her shoulder that she was rewarding them for their good behavior for another sub the day before. My friend the resource officer tried to come over to help me sort out those students who were not supposed to be there, but his day ended at 4pm.

    This is where it gets interesting. Because of the split sessions, the middle school gym was taken over by the sports teams and the actual phys ed classes were kicked out of their classroom. For the rest of the afternoon, I had to take the students across the parking lot to the gym in the elementary school (which was actually a padded basement). The students stomped around in there for a while until I was instructed to release them five minutes early for the walk back to the middle school. This worked until the next to last period of the day, when the kids had already left my presence and were off to their final class of the day.

    The fire alarm went off before the period officially ended, and it wasn't a drill. I had no way to recall the kids to take roll and was frantic. The teacher I turned to for help looked at me as if I were an idiot and I feared for my job, despite having done exactly what I was supposed to do. After twenty minutes of searching the yard while also finding out the fire was an arson attempt in the boys' bathroom, I was sure one my my students had pulled the stunt and I was done at that school.

    It was getting cold and dark, so the administrators finally opened the elementary school auditorium so we could sit down and warm up. I finally rounded up my phys ed students with the help of a more sympathetic teacher and seated them together. A student not in my class was finally singled out as having been excused to the bathroom before the fire. He had a lighter and two knives on his person and was promptly expelled.

    Would you believe I continued to go back to that school and even interviewed for a job there? I'm certainly glad I didn't get it.
     
  11. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I started a thread like this a while back. Keeping it as short as possible...:)

    I was a new sub & had a kinder class. One kid needed to take medication, but rather than directing his babysitter to the school nurse to take care of it, I took it & ended up losing it TEMPORARILY, but not before the principal found out & started calling all the classmates' parents to alert them that their kid could have taken some meds by mistake. I did end up finding it. I laid it somewhere & just didn't remember where, but no kids go to it. On top of that, the teacher wrote me up to the district saying I left the class messy, which was totally untrue.

    That's the only time I've ever been written up & I've been subbing almost a decade now. (But during that time, I've been a special ed teacher & have been in college most of those years.)
     
  12. Mrs. F

    Mrs. F New Member

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I subbed in a 2nd grade class where the kids talked constantly. I finally told them that if they continued to talk when I was trying to teach, I would give them one warning then make them move their clip (the teacher's discipline plan). I ended up moving 3 clips and one girl freaked out. She cried for fifteen minutes and then started screaming, yelling at me, "It wasn't my fault!"

    I sent her to the counselor because she wouldn't calm down. The counselor came to me during class and scolded me because this girl was one of the "good" kids who had never got in trouble since pre-k (according to her). She not only embarrassed me in front of the class but also demanded that I apologize to this girl for getting onto her and told me I had to move her clip back. I really wanted a job in this district so I did it. Didn't get a job there (I'm glad about that now).
     
  13. Vince

    Vince Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2011

    That's crazy. ALL kids, even the good ones, have days where they act up. Perhaps she is normally a good kid, but given the circumstances, she might have been swept up by the situation and did something out of character.

    I would have written a note to the regular teacher explaining my side of the story and even, perhaps, include that you thought the counselor was out of line.
     
  14. QueeTheBean

    QueeTheBean Rookie

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    Jan 19, 2011

    6th grade English. It was my first time at middle school, and I am still a novice at subbing.

    Teacher left no seating chart nor even roster of names, just a pile of worksheets. Kids refused to give me their real names. No substitute binder---I had a bell schedule, but no idea if I was supposed to walk them to lunch/bus, etc. No idea about dismissal policy. A teacher said she'd bring it but never came back.

    I had NO lessons or activities for the one non-English class. Another teacher said she'd bring it. She never came back.

    Kids were out of control/defiant from the get-go. It was unbelievable--my worst nightmare.

    One kid cut his finger with a razor blade. Another kid threw it in the trash. Drops of blood all over the classroom. I called the office & no one came for more than 10 minutes?? Kids walking through blood in the meantime. I had to call back. Kid came back from the nurse with a band aid--nothing was said about the razor blade. Yet, our district has a 0 tolerance policy for any kind of blade???

    I was sworn at, threatened with law suits, made fun of, ridiculed, was the subject of unflattering pictures, was accused of farting, lying, and swearing at students (none of which I did).

    If the janitor hadn't taken away the razor blade (finally), I might have slit my wrists.

    I am definitely not ready to teach past elementary--and even 5th grade has been challenging for me.

    I truly want to do a good job--I was frustrated that day and angry at myself because I didn't know how to prevent the chaos or rein it in once it was out of control. :(
     
  15. midwesttchr

    midwesttchr Rookie

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    Jan 26, 2011

    I'd say one of the worst days I ever had was being the only teacher, with no para or associate help, in a K class that really could have used one.

    Kindergarteners, at this time of the year, are still relatively new to the grade level but know the general rules of the hallway. As we are heading to Music, I'm in the middle of the line managing some students, when the front half of the line takes off RUNNING down the hallway! SO embarrassing for a sub, particularly one that desperately wants "an in". :( Luckily, other teachers witnessing this just shook their heads and assured me they're being stinkers, and that they don't just do this to me. Ever since this incident - regardless of grade level, I make sure I am the line leader!

    Towards the end of the day, the students were doing discovery centers. It was pickup time, and a few of them were being silly instead of cleaning up. I'm managing them, while a couple others are running around the room. As I'm telling them to stop and sit in their spots, a few more are asking me to tie shoes, asking "When are we going home?" or "Can I do this or that?" ... Very needy class.

    Amidst of all this, 2 boys are fighting over who gets to put away the legos. I tell one of them to let the other put them away, because he had already shut the lid. This makes him very sad, and he - right in front of my eyes - LEAVES the room!!
    So, I'm climbing over toys still on the floor, gently as possibly moving students out of my way who are crowding around me asking more questions, and trying to get to the phone to call the office for the CAT team.

    I'd been subbing for this same district about 1.5 years by then, and this was the first time I'd ever wanted to cry. Children that had been goofing off were noticing that something was wrong, and the children swarming around me changed their questions to "Where did he go? What is he going to do?" Somehow, I manage to call the office and ask for immediate assistance, as a student has left the room, and I cannot leave 21 K students alone.

    About 20 seconds later, with tears swimming in my eyes, the student walks back into the room! At the very least, he looks remorseful, and comes and gives me a hug. I tell him that leaving the room is NEVER acceptable, as I had been extremely worried, and so were other teachers. 10 seconds after he came back, the CAT team arrives, and I tell them he had come back on his own.

    I fell right into bed when I got home that day. :|

    It did help that the next day, when I saw the teacher, she apologized for the events of the previous day and thanked me for all my help. While the class was exhausting, I admit that it's gestures like that that remind me why I sub with just this district.
     
  16. HSSub

    HSSub Rookie

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    Jan 27, 2011

    potty breaks

    One of my first days subbing I was asked to spend the day with a girl in a wheelchair. She was in the 7th grade and weighed about 90 pounds. I was showed very quickly how to lift her out of the chair and onto the potty, and then back into her chair. She needed to use the bathroom 5 times throughout the day. I'm in great physical shape, but I was terrified I was going to drop her onto the floor. My help was another sub, who was probably 60 yrs. old and not in good physical condition. She could only give me wipies and moral support!I was stunned that administration allowed me to do this without training. I wondered if her parents knew they allowed just "anybody" to do this. Never again...
     
  17. Kelster

    Kelster Comrade

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    Jan 28, 2011

    My worst day was this past Tuesday. I was in a 5th grade class. The teacher was there when I arrived, she was finishing up lesson plans for the day. She mentioned that if I gave the students incentives like being able to go out to recess 5 mins early would help. Well I went out and met them on the playground in the morning and started hearing "we have a substitute. We came in the class and they erupted and were loud until another teacher walked in and then they got quiet until he left. I tried to take roll and ended up just going by the seating chart.

    Thankfully they had pe first thing in the day. While they were out for p.e, the vice principal and the school counselor came in and said if I had any issues to call and they would come down and escort any student out. When the students came back in from p.e, I let them know that if we got through math I would let them out for recess early, the calm lasted for about 5 minutes and caos ensued. Yelling, name calling, and things being thrown across the room. I tried to remain calm and get things under control but they just looked at me and continued what they were doing. Recess came and they went out.

    When they came back in I tried teaching the social studies lesson which didn't go well because of these few defiant students. I ended up calling for assistance. The students were escorted out and for the most part my day went a bit better.

    I won't be returning to that school again, or at least that class.
     
  18. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Jan 30, 2011

    Oh gosh. It was a horrible, horrible day. I felt so humiliated and defeated.

    This fifth grade class had run through at least two other subs in seven days. I subbed for them on a Friday, after their teacher was gone for a week because of a death in the family.

    The class knew why their teacher was gone, and when I calmly explained that the last thing any teacher in mourning would like to return to is a bad report from several subs, the students showed no sympathy.

    There was a fight in the hallway right outside the class. No real lesson plans, and what little work they had to do was all leftover assignments from the rest of the week that they'd somehow managed to not work on at all for the last four days. The principal came in and yelled at them at one point, because they were being so loud (in the hallway on their way back from PE... he went from room to room yelling at all of fifth grade) and hadn't done any work.

    I separated all the desks, gave them all space so that they couldn't play around in their groups. Didn't work. Several students refused to work. Absolutely nothing I tried worked. As the day wore on, I failed myself when I started snapping at students and basically just letting them do what they wanted, as long as they didn't get too loud or run around the room. I just wanted to leave.

    It was a very, very bad day. They topped my previous "worst day" by miles. I felt so sorry for their regular teacher. But I really disappointed myself in how I began to get so annoyed that I was merely trying to keep the chaos at a minimum instead of restore order.
     
  19. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Jan 30, 2011


    Whoa. The counselor was being completely ridiculous.
     
  20. QueeTheBean

    QueeTheBean Rookie

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    Jan 30, 2011

    On the one hand, I hate reading these, because it makes me feel sick in my stomach in the way that only another substitute teacher can know.

    On the other hand, it feels so good to know that I am not the only one who has days like these. :|
     
  21. Lindager

    Lindager Companion

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    Jan 30, 2011

    My worst day was just last fall at the new school I sub at. In my old school I know most of the kids and when I have a special Ed. kid I either know them or I know who to talk to about them. This was the first time I was doing Sp. Ed. in the new school and I had no sub folder.
    I was just told to go to a certain class and be an aide to one student with autism for the 1st 4 periods then the office would tell me where to go in the afternoon.

    I have only worked with a few autism student but most of them needed someone with them at all times so I stayed near this boy, but he never wanted my help. Then he said he had to go to the boys room so I followed and stood across the hall and said I will wait here. He looks at me strange then says 'I don't want to be mean but you are freaking me out following me everywhere" After the shock and ambarrasment wore off I thought I don't know what I am doing here. So when he came out I said OK I will back off and you just let me know if you need anything, I thought I was supposed to stay nearby. We got along after that. In the afternoon I was told what classes to go to, but not who I was there for. I just stood or walked around trying to look helpful. Finally one teacher said to me "We don't need you now you can go to the teachers lounge"

    When I went home that day I was more emotionally exhausted then if I had taught 30+ difficult kids all day. I decided I will not work Sp. Ed. at that school anymore I hate feeling useless and not knowing who to help.
     
  22. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    Jan 31, 2011

    I am not a sub, but one of my subs had a bad day. She had to take the kids to the greenhouse to water the plants. My greenhouse is on the other side of the student parking lot. We are a small school, so our parking lot is pretty small and isn't paved. She tripped going across the parking lot and did a face plant into a car. The kids said that blood went everywhere. One ran into the building and got the principal. She refused to go home and called her husband to bring her a clean shirt. The kids said her nose stopped bleeding by 2nd hour.
    I'm sorry, but if that would have happened to me, I would have spent the rest of the day at home in bed with a cold rag on my face. I felt horrible about it and the kids were a little freaked out.
     
  23. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Jan 31, 2011

    Its interesting that the majority of the problems here seem to have been with middle schoolers or 5th grade. That definitely jibes with my experience. I'm glad to know that it isn't just me! Sometimes that age group can be horrible! The amount of trouble they cause, compounded with nasty attitudes really makes you want to run away screaming.
     
  24. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Feb 1, 2011

    Had my worst day this year... and the worst day I can probably remember in nine years as a sub teacher.

    It was a K class, where the kids basically didn't listen to anything I said. I've subbed many K classes before, with nothing near this horrible of a class. I pride myself on not raising my voice, but I did get to a point where I was yelling (for effect, even though I was mad).

    These are the most trying of days, not just because of the day. But it's a total reflection on the teaching that is going on... and that I'm relegated to being a scrub for that kind of teacher.
     
  25. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Feb 1, 2011

    I subbed for about three months out of college before being hired and for those three months, I had a pretty good time. BUT, there are two subbing assingments that stand out.

    One was in kindergarten. It was the second week of school (or maybe third) and these kids had had sub after sub because their normal teacher was pregnant and was going through complications. There were no sub plans. Class was chaotic, as you can imagine. I swore I would NEVER teach kindergarten again. Well, I was hired one week later to teach kindergarten and LOVED it!!!!! I taught kinder for three years and would go back in a heartbeat.


    The other assignment was at a high school. I was called the b-word and was assaulted. Nothing much happened to both kids. And, throw in annoying, defiant kids. Yeah, I hated that day and refused to go back. THis was right before I was hired to teach kinder.

    With my current job, I am sometimes pulled to take over a class at the school. Even though the kids all know me and they know I know their teachers, they still try to pull things over me. I'm strict, know them, and everything and I end up pretty exhausted and tired.
     
  26. Auter12

    Auter12 Comrade

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    Feb 1, 2011

    1st grade - didn't have to be a bad day. I didn't bring my sub goodie bag with me bc I was running late and it wasn't 1st grade ready. I figured that in a 1st grade room, I would have something to wing-it if there was extra time (ie stickers, books, games, ANYTHING). Nope. The teacher's plans literally wouldn't have even taken me to lunch, let alone the entire day. She didn't have any kind of classroom management rules/routines either. The kids were bored before lunch; I had nothing for them to do; the teacher didn't so much as have 1 sticker in the class. AND that morning, a parent asked where the regular teacher was, I told her i was subbing, and she STILL wanted to have a conference about her child with me. WHAT?! REALLY?!:confused: I just told her I hadn't even met her daughter yet, and couldn't tell her anything about how she was doing. I managed to play some listening/following direction games, and give them a writing prompt in the p.m. (good thing there was a special scheduled)
    I was scheduled for the week in that class. You better believe I had a FULLY equipt bag of goodies the rest of the week. - prizes, books, stickers, made vocab games for them, board games, learning activities, etc. They loved it!! AND were better behaved

    Subbed for the same teacher Monday in a 2nd grade class. I was given a "heads up" about the "talkative class." I was prepared, and I would not have labeled them as the talkative class AT ALL. They were great (with a little sticker motivation ;) )
     
  27. Subber

    Subber Companion

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    Feb 2, 2011

    This was very funny. Also made me feel lucky because before I got to sub a kindergarten alone, I had another sub who used to be a regular teachers (or subs) in the class because the district was putting two teachers in each kindergraten at the time. Because of the budget, these days, it's just one now.
     
  28. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Feb 2, 2011

    Well, the surprising thing was because it's the 87th day or whatever it is in the school year. I know Kinder has the potential to be utter lawlessness, with kids crying cuz they miss mommy/daddy, they maybe make in their pants, etc. I know all that is on the table... cuz a lot are new to the whole school thing.

    But at a point, you would think lawlessness would be replaced by at least children being able to sit and follow some semblance of a routine.

    Days like that honestly make questions of your teaching ability briefly enter your mind.
     
  29. TeachSoCal

    TeachSoCal Rookie

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    Feb 3, 2011

    the Blob

    Finally had it today! And it was a doozy.....

    I applied with another district as a JIK to supplement my main district work. The new district called me yesterday to tell me they were putting me on the list & would contact me with an orientation date & subfinder number. I get a call the next day to sub. I tell them I have not had the orientation yet but will take the job.

    It starts with the office person grunting & handing me a key- just a key no ring no lanyard & walking away without a word. I wait until they come back & ask "What's the room number?" and "is there a sub folder?". She just rolls her eyes and tells me the number & walks away again.

    The rooms a hot mess. I find the plans & they just say things like "9-9:30 MITTS" no mention of what MITTS is or where I can find it. All the other items on her plans are on the computer or smartboard. Except there was no computer in the room! (Asked another teacher & they use laptops that she must have taken home).

    Then I find out that I have "the blob". When asked to do anything this kid lays down on the floor- face down. And he is a laaaarge first grader so he looks like a beached seal that I can not move. I poked my head through the door into the next classroom & asked the teacher how they handle it- she marches in & yanks him up & marches him to the office. Then there was the 3 kids who refused to do any work (luckily they stayed off the floor) and another who would just get up & walk off.

    Then... the notes said I had "duty" at recess. I take the kids out and see the teacher who helpe me earlier. I walk over to say thank you & another teacher standing next to her snaps "You have duty!". I stopped in my tracks & said "Yes I understand that, I just wanted to thank X for her help"

    the day was a contsant struggle of pulling every classroom management trick out of my hat & trying to praise the students who were on task as much as I could.

    The only bright spot was the teacher from next door (who unbeached the blob) and that this was the "worst class she had seen in 19 years" & didn't know how the other teacher functions day-to-day and given the quality of class said that she thought I did a good job & kept them engaged.
     

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