Does HS classroom behavior vary?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by liverpoolwalrus, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. liverpoolwalrus

    liverpoolwalrus New Member

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    Aug 25, 2010

    Hi all. This is my first post on what looks like quite an informative forum.

    I'm retiring soon from the federal government and would like to substitute teach at the high school level. I'm enrolling in a 7 week Substitute Teacher Preparatory course at a community college in October.

    As we all know, stories about unruly and sometimes violent students are commonplace and I was just wondering if I would be more likely to encounter well behaved students in classes they've elected to take, as opposed to core required classes. In other words, I am pretty proficient in the French language and I'd like to substitute teach French. I'm thinking behavior won't be an issue for those kids because they're there because they want to be and because they probably have aspirations to go to college. Does this sound logical?

    If you've found behavior does vary in high school depending on the class subject, what subjects would you say produce the best and worst-behaved students? I know there's not going to be any hard and fast rules here. I was a terror myself in AP Biology and Ancient History as I recall. But I was an angel in my French classes.

    Also, I'll be 55 if and when I teach, and I was wondering if I could hear from you all about the issue of age discrimination. Of course I know it's not permitted, but are "older" subs passed over in one subtle way or another, or does age really not matter?

    Thanks for any input.
    Rick
     
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  3. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Aug 25, 2010

    First off, I don't think age matters at all for a sub, unless maybe they're like 85 and can't walk! Seriously though, I can't imagine your age being an issue.

    As a teacher of electives (foods classes) I have had my share of very well behaved classes and classes that eventually end up fine with me but are horrible with a sub. So it really can go either way.

    Good luck with completing the program.
     
  4. waffles

    waffles Companion

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    Aug 25, 2010

    Generally electives are better. But these kids have to take something. I'd throw the thought of a language being easier out the window. They need 2 years to graduate. A lot of people at my high school took French so they wouldn't have to deal with the Spanish teachers.

    Really, don't worry about their behavior. If they don't behave send them out.
     
  5. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Aug 26, 2010

    The thing with older teachers (subs I mean) is that a lot don't seem to have the relatability with kids anymore (if they ever had it). If you are bright, bushy-tailed, energetic, and open... I agree--age is not a factor at all.

    But a lot of older subs aren't like that.
     
  6. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Aug 26, 2010

    Yes, elective classes are generally better. And, age is not a factor. Actually, most people will assume you're a retired teacher :)

    As a sub (in my late 40's) I've done 4-5 long term positions, so I have experience with building rapport with high school kids. It has NOTHING to do with age. But, do I think a youthful enthusiasm and curiosity about life is a factor.

    One of my strengths is that for some reason HS kids really like me - and it's definitely NOT because we have anything in common. I think it's because I'm genuinely interested in them. I give lots of praise and encouragement when they work. I ask their advice and value their opinions. And, I have a sense of humor. I think they see me as a caring Aunt, Mom, or even Grandma. My students know that I want them to succeed.

    I'm not trying to say how wonderful I am (I have a lot to learn, and have weaknesses as well as the strengths I mentioned). I'm just trying to assure you that you can build rapport with students - even though you're not close to their age.

    By the way, as a day-to-day sub, if certain students are really stubborn, you can give them the option of putting their heads down and sleeping - just so the rest of the class can learn. Let them know if they continue to be disruptive you have to write them up - but quiet sleeping is a different story. Ultimately, it's their choice if they want to fall behind that day.

    If a kid threatens you just go straight to the phone and call for backup. Always know how to dial the office. Although, I've never experienced this kind of behavior. I think because, as a sub, you don't have to pressure the kids to work. Realistically, some kids won't work with a sub. There have been times when I've move the kids who want to learn up to the front and let the other kids chat quietly in the back.
     
  7. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Aug 28, 2010

    Generally you can expect them to answer back. They're also sneaky. A trip to the water fountain can took 20 mins in one case. They will test your knowledge of the rules by trying to break them. They are curious about you and what you do. Try to be firm but not nasty. It's a fine line I know.
     
  8. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Sep 1, 2010

    I do agree that students will work harder and behave better when it is a class they want to take.

    I have not had many serious behavior issues, but many students do merely chat and loaf.

    Because I find high school subbing as somewhat boring since I am not qualified to offer much help in most cases, I will often pass the time by circulating around the room with a list I use to grade each student on their behavior and effort.
    I walk around and ask the name of the students who are quiet and focused, or, if I know their name, I will complement them, and let them know I am noting their strong effort for the teacher.

    I will also make note of poorer students who have improved as the hour goes by so as to motivate them them for further improvement.
     
  9. Navigator

    Navigator Rookie

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    Sep 1, 2010

    My wife's mom is a substitute teacher, and her services are almost constantly in demand. She'll be 73 her next birthday, but because she's almost exactly like John Lee's description, she seems much "younger." She has absolutely no problems relating to the kids, and I'm sure she'd tell you that her grey hairs are one of her "secret weapons." The kids can tell this isn't her first rodeo, so they know better than to try to pull things they might on another sub.

    Good luck, liverpoolwalrus.
     
  10. liverpoolwalrus

    liverpoolwalrus New Member

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    Sep 6, 2010

    Thanks so much for all your helpful replies. I know if I want to sub more than once in a blue moon, I have to venture out of my comfort zone of just teaching French. But truth be told, at this point, I'm lacking confidence in my ability to handle behavior problems, probably because I'm such a nice guy (I know, nice guys finish last.).

    Hopefully handling behavior problems is a skill like anything else, and your posts and the 7 week class I'll be taking (plus a couple of books and some assertiveness) will go a long way toward turning those lions into lambs, if need be.

    I dunno, maybe it's not all that bad. But in my area (Washington, DC and suburbs), I hear nothing but stories about how unbelievably rude, unruly and violent kids are nowadays.
     

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