Help for a new teacher

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by Katie99, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. Katie99

    Katie99 New Member

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    Apr 8, 2005

    I am a new substitute teacher. I am in a Masters and credential program at Biola University. I am working at Los Angeles Unified School District. The schools in this district are rough. I've subbed at several middle schools and high schools and I find 7th graders and 6th graders to be so hard to keep focused. I come from a family of two principals and I feel dumb. I need advice on how to teach them and keep them focused. They are inner-city schools, and that is where I am going to stay because I want to help them. If there are any teachers that could help me I would appreciate it.
     
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  3. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Guest

    Apr 8, 2005

    I substitute 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, but not in the inner-city of Chicago which is just 45 minutes south of me. The kids I sub are from affluent suburbia communities and thus, I have very little trouble getting them to focus and pay attention. So, I really, really admire you for taking on inner-city kids, especially at the middle school level.

    Whatever you do, don't let them know you're new at this. Let them think you've been doing this awhile - have the upper hand and keep it.

    In terms of getting them to focus, I don't know if I can be of much help to you in that area since it's not something I have trouble with so maybe someone else can help out in this particular area.
     
  4. mmeblue

    mmeblue Rookie

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    Apr 9, 2005

    One thing I've noticed about middle schoolers is that the more energy and enthusiasm I have about whatever we're doing, the better they seem able to focus. There are always kids that defy that general principle, of course, but on the whole it seems to be true.

    I don't know how well that piece of advice will work for someone in a substituting situation, though, since I know that when I leave sub plans, they're usually for the kids to do work on their own with little to no help from the sub. But hopefully someone can offer you some good ideas!
     
  5. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Guest

    Apr 9, 2005

    I agree with mmeblue. The more energy and enthusiasm you've got about whatever it is they're supposed to be covering via the regular teacher's sub folder, the better they seem able to focus.

    In addition, I had a kid raise his hand and ask me if I was experienced in Science on my first day of subbing. I told the class that I was a second year Master's student of History, but was a Bio major briefly as an undergrad and thus had quite a few science courses under my belt and given what they were studying at the time it shouldn't be any problems for me in terms of assisting them with homework and answering any questions. Since then, I always give a brief background of who I am and if I've taken enough coursework in that area or not in order to be able to assist them. I find the more upfront I am in terms of if I can or can't be of much help seems to work to my advantage. The students appreciate the information so if it comes down to them having to ask the student next to them, working in pairs, or working in groups they can get organized to do it.
     
  6. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Apr 10, 2005

    It is great if you have the experience, but I don't think it is necessary for a sub. A funny story - Our Spanish teacher was out for a few days and our sub was a former elementary teacher (also a parent of two of our students). A young lady in my 6th grade math class mentioned, "Boy, for a Spanish teacher, Senora Nancy sure doesn't speak a lot of Spanish!" I cracked up.
     
  7. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Guest

    Apr 10, 2005

    I agree, I don't think experience is necessary for a sub. But my philosophy is, if subs are upfront about experience and what they know and don't know very well they'll find working with the kids a bit more easier than if they walk in and start subbing off the plans.
     
  8. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    Apr 11, 2005

    I agree. When I subbed I told my kids my experience first off. It did help that I had done my internship there the semester before. Once I told them my experience, they were right on track with me.
     
  9. Jaime99

    Jaime99 Rookie

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    Apr 12, 2005

    When I used to do subbing (before I got my permanent job) at a new school, I'd wait until the students were in the class, then I'd walk to whatever desk was there and pick up the sub folder (which I'd left there on purpose), look through it for a few seconds, silent all the while, then I'd look up with a surprised look on my face and yell "Oh, I LOVE THIS SUBJECT!" (If it was an elementary school, I'd say "Oh, I'VE HEARD ABOUT THIS CLASS! YOU GUYS DO THE COOLEST THINGS IN HERE!")

    Then I'd teach the class as if it was the subject or class I was born to teach and that I got lucky enough to sub for this teacher and this class. All it took was a little general knowledge of the basic subjects and a lot of enthusiasm. I'd run around so much (it was some extra exercise for the day, I figured) that they don't have time to misbehave. I didn't drink coffee, either, so I think I was just born with a capacity for enthusiasm.

    By the second time I'd teach at that school, they would be so amused by the stories told by other students (I'd make sure to enough crazy things to build my reputation) that they'd sit expectantly anyway.

    Give it a shot.
     

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