How to overcome extreme anxiety with sub jobs?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by SnowBubble, Mar 24, 2014.

  1. SnowBubble

    SnowBubble New Member

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    Mar 24, 2014

    Hello guys! I'm a noob here. I just recently started subbing and my first job was a disaster. (I subbed a middle school for an art teacher) and the kids were really rude and hard to maintain. It was even harder because it was my very FIRST time ever trying to teach/lead a classroom. I cancelled the assignment about 5 days in because it was just stressing me out way too much. (The original art teacher had left for another job so it was a vacancy. I couldn't just be like "Hey! I'l leave a note for the teacher if you do bad and don't listen". It was a free for all, ugh...)

    I'm also kinda wondering if I have some sorta anxiety disorder as well...but I've noticed being a substitute teacher means you're gonna walk in a classroom or school and be pretty clueless about what to expect (and it just makes me more and more anxious to the point where I feel sick)

    Did/does any one else feel this way? Does it slowly subside the more you do it? Should I get anxiety meds, lol? I LIKE to know as much as I can about a job before I go into it but I know its not always (if rarely) going to happen...
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 24, 2014

    How do you define "extreme anxiety"?

    If you do think you have an anxiety disorder, you really need to be talking with your doctor.
     
  4. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Mar 24, 2014

    I don't know about how you should feel. All I know is tthatbeing a substitute teacher is no walk in the park. Especially since the students know you are not a main teacher within the building and you would not really know how that teacher handles the class. This is why I know for a fact I l could never be a substitute teacher.
     
  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Mar 24, 2014

    If you think your anxiety is too much, it can't hurt to talk to a doctor, even if he ends up saying it's normal (although I'm sure he'll prescribe something, because doctors do that, even when they shouldn't, in my opinion).

    Other than that: it does get easier, to more you do it, the more experience and confidence you have. It makes it worse that your first experience was rough, try to put it behind you. Being a sub for an art teacher might make it harder, and this situation, where they had no regular teacher, it's doomed to be very difficult.
    You should also experiment with different grade levels, middle school tends to be the hardest, maybe try a lower grade.
     
  6. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Mar 24, 2014

    I fully understand what you're going through! I'm now 3.5 years into subbing, and you'll thrive (even though the anxiety will never fully go away - it's just part of the job) if:

    - You figure out your "wheelhouse" by subbing around and then focusing on picking up those jobs as much as possible (i.e. school, certain teachers, certain grade levels)
    - You put in a great effort and get called back to the same classroom numerous times (most often, kids will love having a sub, so if you're a regular in a classroom, it becomes quite a bit easier after the first time!), or even school many times.
    - Figure out what works for you. Try a variety of strategies for each part of the day (getting them settled, gaining attention, filling small blocks of time, doing transitions), and as soon as you find something you are comfortable with and tends to work in the classes...use it, use it, use it...naturally follow the teacher's wishes, but make sure you are doing what is comfortable for you within the structure you are given!
     
  7. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Mar 26, 2014

    The answer is: Just do it.

    If you are a cop and you are scared to go on patrol (for all the reasons you should be scared), the way you overcome that is to: go on patrol. As a kayaker, the way to overcome your fear of the ocean conditions is to: go into the ocean conditions (as opposed to inside the harbor).

    I can recall being intimidate as a basketball player, playing against the big boys. I overcame that by (drumroll): playing with the big boys. There are teachers who have avoided tackling anything/everything as a sub teacher, and I think it makes you less of a teacher TBH.

    I agree with mathmagic, that you should focus on specific strategies every day, that you can become better at--maybe work on how you open up your day (introduce yourself to the class).

    One thing you can do, is to develop a way to use a chunk of the class time, in some sort of interactive way. e.g. If you have an unusual last name, make it some sort of game to introduce yourself to the class. Many teachers leave insufficient plans, and so (ill-equipped subs) sometimes are left in situations where things can get easily out-of-hand. If you can waste some time where kids are engaged in anything, it is a good thing.
     
    DaniB92 likes this.
  8. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Mar 26, 2014

    Hmm... no student teaching experience or practice (with coaching) directing a class?
     
  9. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Mar 26, 2014

    I agree 100% with mathmagic.

    There were some schools/classrooms that regardless of my experience I always left work with my anxiety through the roof. I'd recommend never going back to a school that makes you feel unsafe or ridiculously stressed.

    For example, at one school I never returned to it was thing after thing. When I got there in the morning I was informed that my car would be towed unless I parked in a specifically marked spot, but unfortunately the secretaries were confused on which spot so I had to wait a long period of time before I could even get to the classroom. I also found out when I got there that during my prep I would be subbing for a different teacher - which was no big deal, but meant that I probably wouldn't get to use the restroom that day.

    On my way to the second class during my prep, a rather large high school student hit me on the back of my head and then ran off. (This student wasn't one of mine, so I'm unsure why he hit me.) This made me feel extremely unsafe in the school.

    When I arrived at the second class (to which I was late to because it was across campus, I had to wait for students to leave the first class, I had to lock up the first class, and then I only had two minutes to get there) there was a fire drill that the secretary didn't tell me about nor inform me of their drill protocols. Suffice to say, I was extremely stressed out and upset and had no idea what to do.

    During lunch I had to do duty in the hot sun at the back of the school by myself (which is in a bad neighborhood). It was a nightmare.

    This school only saw me once, and I imagine they have been hit by the sub shortage harder than other schools.
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Mar 27, 2014

    Even while subbing as an experienced teacher, I hated subbing in new buildings. It is overwhelming. If you become familiar with a school, it gets way easier, IMO.
     
  11. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Mar 27, 2014

    Yes, it is totally normal. No, it never completely goes away.

    It does get easier. I would suggest you don't take middle school assignments right now. Try to get into some grade 2-4 range jobs to build your skills and your techniques. These are the most forgiving ages.

    As you become known somewhere, it gets easier. Do make sure when you arrive to 1.) Be early 2.) ask the secretary where the adult restroom, teachers lounge, fridge etc... are. This will make your life easier. Some schools are more welcoming of subs. If you eat in the lounge, sometimes teachers will include you and sometimes you will get the cold shoulder. I prefer to return when the teachers are nice to me. : )

    Are you a teaching student or have knowledge of teaching? Read Fred Jones, Tools for Teaching to get an idea of what classroom management looks like. Also, a way of getting kids attention. I sing a song- they stop and look at me and be quiet or join in. Try using a countdown or a clap signal. Getting kids attention is the number one classroom management skill to master as a sub.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I actually didn't mind working at new schools - as a sub, I had the mystery, that kids didn't know who I was and what they could get away with. I kept a straight face on, demanded cooperation and made it clear that I meant business. The first days at new schools were the best. Later on, I relaxed, as I got more familiar with them, so they relaxed as well, but in the end it all worked out.
    Just consider a new school, a grade level or even a new class you haven't been to a fresh start. It is easier than going back to a class where you had some issues - the kids remember they could get away with things, and they will try again.
     
  13. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Mar 29, 2014

    I agree with this very much, but.... If I remember what the problem was before, I can nip it in the bud first thing in the morning. Like, if there was a problem with kids interrupting me, I take 10 minutes in the morning to role play what that looks like, tell why it bothered me and explain that I will not tolerate it and here are the consequences. So that does go both ways.
     
  14. sunny123

    sunny123 New Member

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    Apr 2, 2014

    Don't worry! I'm new to subbing as well! I'm trying to take it as a way to figure out my behavior management strategies. It'll get easier once you try to figure out your behavior management style.
     
  15. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Apr 3, 2014

    Kids test subs. When I was teaching middle and high school students, they would brag about whether they could scare the sub during one of my rare absences. They took advantage of the fact the sub did not know the school routine or layout.

    Years ago I was a sub and the first few jobs were horrible. I was trying so hard to get a regular teaching job and would take anything. Some teachers did not leave plans or their rooms were a mess. The school didn't always have a key ready and didn't always know the teacher was absent, Some days it was terrifying. I was afraid of getting hurt, fired, or losing my credential. The things I was told to do didn't make sense then and still don't. Sometimes I was just a babysitter.

    Now I look back and laugh, at least sort of. People have no idea until they have done it. Subbing in the beginning is no picnic. I know some teachers who got lucky and subbed where they student taught or got a long term job right away. That wasn't me. Frankly, those early jobs taught me what to do and what not to do. I also look back and see that I was truly drawn to the kids with special needs back then.
     
  16. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Apr 15, 2014

    I don't take middle school jobs anymore, but there are two things I used to do to sort of help with the classroom management.

    First, I'd point out to them that whatever they thought they were getting away with wasn't going to happen. Middle schoolers love to see each other in trouble. I shamelessly used that to my advantage by reminding them that not only do their teachers who see them on a daily basis know who will misbehave when they're gone, but that *someone* in the class will make sure to report exactly who was behaving and who wasn't. You'd be surprised how that gets them in line.

    The other thing is that if there is a document camera in the room, I'd write the letter to the teacher very quietly on camera without calling attention to it while the kids were supposed to be working. When they read that I was writing about misbehavior, talking out of turn...whatever...they'd immediately put their heads down and start working.

    Middle school can be a nightmare, though. I had one job where I threatened detention to two boys who were being outrageous. They snarkily replied that their parents wouldn't let that happen. About ten seconds later, the teacher in the adjoining room popped her head in and threatened the same thing. That shut them up. In that case, the teacher told me that it wasn't me, that the regular teacher had no control. That doesn't help when you're subbing. The kids think you're disposable. You have to come across very, very hard and show them you'll hang them without mercy.
     
  17. Vince

    Vince Rookie

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    Apr 25, 2014

    I purposely avoid long term jobs for the very thing that happened to you. The kids know you are a sub and will often times walk all over you.

    Stick to day to day jobs and you will mostly be fine.
     

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