For those that sub in middle school

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by jen12, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Apr 29, 2010

    I only do middle school when I'm feeling really needy for money. I'd rather lose the hundred bucks than spend the day with that age group. The first and only time I've done middle school this year was yesterday and I remember why I hate it.

    The kids are loud, unruly and rude. They have little to no respect for each other and for the "sub" who they seem to think isn't a "real" teacher. They make fun of everything and refuse to do the work their teachers leave for them.

    One girl yesterday argued with me non-stop. She wasn't very nice to her fellow students either. It struck me as strange, because she was very beautiful, and the type that kids would naturally gather around, but her attitude was so ugly, it was very off-putting. The sub folder was supplied with referral notices, and instructions saying to give three warnings before writing a referral. I gave her two, then basically hovered over her as she worked, so she squeaked out of getting the third warnign and a trip to the office.

    The sub folder also stated not to let the kids leave the classroom for any reason other than an emergency. Naturally, several asked to go to the bathroom, and I said no. They argued that their teacher lets them go and I "HAD" to do exactly what their teacher does. I told them I disagreed, and one kid told me he'd sue me if he got a bladder infection...I told him I wasn't too worried about that. (How 8th graders know about bladder infections is another mystery...)

    The last class of the day asked me if I was going to leave a bad report for their teacher. When I told them that I was, they whined and said they were gonna get "whupped." I told them they'd dug their own grave there and I had no intention of doing them any favors by lying to their teacher.

    So...how do you deal with middle school when you sub? The mouthiness drives me up the wall.
     
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  3. always_learning

    always_learning Rookie

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    Apr 29, 2010

    I don't mind subbing middle school at all. Maybe because I have my own 6th grader that I know how their minds work. It's all about attention grabbing and I just don't play into their hands. I make sure I am tough from the get go and play up the positive reinforcement.

    Not to mention I have learned to love the 45 minute class periods with our middle schools. If I really fail in one period I get to start over fresh in the next ;)
     
  4. waffles

    waffles Companion

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    Apr 29, 2010

    The first time sucks. Then it gets better. Eventually you walk into the building and the kids are sad that you're not in their class that day.

    Also, sending people out of the room works wonders. Whenever I have a kid who is causing problems pretty early in class I tell them they're more than welcome to spend the class in the recovery room/office if they'd rather not be in the classroom. That always gets that kid under control, and most of the rest of the class as well.

    Although I do have to agree with the kids a bit that the bathroom rules can be ridiculous. All of the middle school around here have about 3 minutes between classes and they're expected to use the bathroom and get to their next class and use their locker if they need to all in that 3 minutes.
     
  5. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Apr 29, 2010

    I'll second what always learning said.

    I've also noticed that Substitute Teachers seem to cause an epidemic of bladder control problems in middle school students, but I can tell you from experience that very few "real" middle school teachers actually let the kids go to the bathroom whenever they want. More often, they are told to wait until break or - at the very least - until the last 10 minutes of class.

    As for the mouthiness and rudeness, sometimes that comes with the territory of this age and you just have to be tough from the moment they walk in. I have a VERY hard time doing that, because my natural style is to joke around with the class some (even when I was doing my student teaching). Of course, I have to remind myself it's much easier to go from "tough" to "nice" than the other way around.

    It also helps that I'm a male and can have a very "stern voice" when I want (although most female teachers are good at this too).

    One great trick I learned last year with a particularly rowdy class was to simply stop what I was doing and start writing the names of the disruptive students on the board. It didn't take long at ALL for the class to quiet down. When one student asked "What does that mean, if you have your name on the board?" I said "You'll find out when Mr. Regular Teacher gets back tomorrow." THAT put a damper on them for the rest of the class.

    The most important thing with middle schoolers is to avoid getting "caught up" in any arguments with them, because ANY attention is a reward for them. Give them their work and the instructions and tell them to get busy. When they try to complain or justify not doing it, just say "This assignment is due by (end of class/tomorrow). I suggest you start working on it."
     
  6. always_learning

    always_learning Rookie

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    Apr 29, 2010

    Excellent point! If you get tripped up into an argument with them you'll never win. lol Just like Cerek mentioned short and simple instructions will keep them from getting argumentative.
     
  7. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Apr 29, 2010

    Last year whenever I did middle school I would send kids out into the hall regularly. I did it yesterday, and the kid walked off. The special ed teacher who was in the room with me went and chewed him out.

    I think my new motto will just be "no chances." Hang a few and the rest should say in line. It was a really odd day because the majority of the grade level was on a trip to an amusement park. I got the kids who didn't get to go, so I walked into a challenge from teh first moment.
     
  8. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Apr 29, 2010

    I agree with the posts about sending the kids out who are just too much to handle. When I subbed middle school, I would do exactly that. You have to send them out before they pull the others down with them.

    Also, they will argue and say ridiculous things, just like the comment about suing you if he were to get a bladder infection. Don't feel the need to respond. They want to be clowns in front of their peers and get them to laugh, so don't fall for the trap. Go in and be very stern, and all business like. That age can be tough, but I think you would find that it also depends on which schools and districts. My very first subbing experience was middle school at a middle school that apparently was one of the toughest in town (I hadn't known that at the time). It was an awful experience! I cried all the way home. But, I continued to sub in middle schools because I didn't want the experience to overcome me and my ability to be a great sub for that age group. In any case, I think the more you did it, the easier it will get. Good luck to you!
     
  9. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    Apr 30, 2010

    What grades are you considering middle school - the traditional 7-9th? (I ask because in my district, middle school was 4-6th grade, but in a lot of other places that is considered elementary)

    I love 7th graders - the enjoy singing and dancing their lessons as much as kindergarteners do. 8th graders are quiet, and still - pretty much always doing what they are supposed to without prodding.

    6th grade - I want nothing to do with them. They've just learned that they can say "No" so they have to say "No" at every opportunity. There is always drama, and rudeness as they attempt to assert their place as the "equal adult" they've begun seeing themselves as
     
  10. azure

    azure Companion

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    Apr 30, 2010

    All very good advice above. I'm in my 9th year of subbing, and I do all levels, but prefer middle school. Up until a couple of years ago, writing one or two referrals usually did result in the rest of the class falling into place. But now days sometimes it takes 4 or 5 in really rough classes. I hate to do that, but when I've already called security and they say, "write 'em' up," that's about the only choice I have.

    Cerek, I don't know why I never thought of writing their names on the board. I do that a lot in elementary, but for some reason it never occurred to me to try it in middle school. I already know the incorrigibles will say, "I don't care, write it up there," but I think it may have some effect on others, because a lot of teachers have already threatened their classes with consequences if their name appears in the note left by the sub.

    The bathroom thing is ridiculous. I don't let anybody go unless they have a medical pass. . . even if they dance around and say they can't hold it or they'll pee their pants. I follow kids that say that out of the classroom when the bell rings, and if they pass right by a restroom, I nail them.
     
  11. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    The other day I was subbing in first grade and there was a boy who is significantly smaller than your average kindergartener. He already knew to hold himself and dance around when he asked to go to the bathroom to get out of class (or recess detention). I caught on to him almost immediately though, because he asked to use the restroom about 5 minutes after he came back from the teacher letting him go. It does feel a bit awkward to tell a kid that small whose dancing around "no"

    For middle school, whether or not I'd say yes, definitely depends on the time between classes. The way my high school was set up, there were times you wouldn't have a chance to go to the bathroom after school started until lunch, which could have been as late as 12:30. Girls have good reasons why they can't always wait that long for the restroom
     
  12. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Apr 30, 2010

    This is one of my biggest struggles as a sub and was even a constant issue with my last class during my ST. Every, single day I had at least 4 students in the last class swear they just HAD to go to the bathroom. I began writing their names down each day to see if it was the same ones. It was actually a group of about 6 and only 1-2 actually asked every single day.

    I wanted to say know and was fairly confident they would be just fine once they actually started working, but I was always afraid that they really might need to use the bathroom and if a kid wet his (or her) pants because I didn't let them go, then you can bet the parents will be calling the P the next morning.

    But I like the idea of following them down the hallway when the bell rings. I'll have to give that a try. :thumb:
     
  13. CD1980

    CD1980 Rookie

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    Apr 30, 2010

    I think the ease or difficulty of substituting in middle school has a lot to do with the school itself, and how strict the regular classroom teachers are. We have some pretty strict teachers at the 7-8 grade middle school I teach at. They might act up a little, but as soon as I get upset they're all terrified, asking if I'm going to report them to the teacher, because the teachers at this school really follow up. What would get the kids a single detention on an ordinary day earns them three detentions if they act that way for a substitute! I love it!
     
  14. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Apr 30, 2010

    Similar experience level, and I used to be a regular at middle school, and actually enjoyed it. NOw that I'm a credentialed K-6 teacher, I spend much more time at those levels, and be that as it is: when I go back now to middle school, I DO GET ANNOYED MUCH EASIER than I used to at middle school kids for all the reasons the TS mentioned.

    My latest stint in middle school had me starting a class with a 5-10 minute explanation on respect. (i.e. I walk into the class, and kids say, "yo what's sup" or try to give me a high-five. That kind of stuff annoys the ____ out of me.) So I started class laying down the law w/regard to this, and told them if/when I'm there again, I hope I don't see that kind of stuff.

    Anyway, here's my advice (and it's good advice). Start class by getting everyone's attention... don't flip out and yell for attention... just ask them to quiet down in a monotone kinda way... as soon as students see you, they'll get the message (even if it takes a couple minutes--if it takes a couple minutes, express your disapproval, calmly)

    Then, lay down the law so to speak. Again, important to not seem mad, or frantic, etc. Maintain a sorta disconnect from your message, and from the snide, rude comments, etc. Somoene makes a rude comment, stop... address it in a calm professional way.

    Now as far as disciplining, I'm like azure there... I don't mess around much. If some kid is annoying me (like the girl original TS described), I'll stop them, have them look & listen to me and tell them in no uncertain terms that I do not like their behavior. THE NEXT TIME they do it, I will give them consequences which could include a referral. It's fine to make someone a sacrificial lamb to gain control, especially since they are being a horse's patoot...

    And again, do not get upset. Feed the situation with calmness (getting angry often feeds the situation in my experience)
     
  15. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    *Just want to point out there is one flaw with this. Because in high school there I had to go every time (gross side effect of medication, not falling into "medical issue") But I still wouldn't go when the bell rang if you said no, because my schedule didn't allow for me to go the restroom and still make it to my next class before the bell rang. So I'd go to that teacher and ask, and they'd probably say no, and so on until lunch time. My schedule the one year had me walking from one end of the building to the other in between every class. If all I did was walk there, without stopping at my locker, I'd arrive just before the bell. (we only had 4 minutes between class and the school was set up to be "long" )
     
  16. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    Last time I sent a child out in the hall (just for a short while to get her calmed down) it was after the school changed principals. Within minutes the principal brought her back in the room saying she couldn't have students unsupervised in the hall.

    And once a 4th grade student was bawling her eyes out at about the same decibel level as screaming for around 15 minutes straight so I sent her to the guidance office. Instead, she went to the principal's office in order to report the students who had upset her (different floor of the building even). Then the principal wanted to know why I sending issues that were clearly guidance to her. That day was something else - it was at a very rough school that most subs refuse to go to, and every time I managed to get the class on task, someone would come in and get them all worked up about something that it really wasn't necessary to have interrupted the class in the first place for.
     
  17. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    May 1, 2010

    Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but they are rare. All of our middle schools have the same design, with classrooms forming a sort of "quad" in one section of the hallway, so students rarely have to go more than two doors down (at the most) to reach their next class.

    If the kid REALLY needed to go to the bathroom, I can certainly see him/her running to their next teacher and asking if they can go before class starts because the sub wouldn't let them leave in Mr. Regular Teachers' class. MOST times, however, they will go into the next classroom, talk with their friends and settle down for class - which means it wasn't an "emergency" after all.
     

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