I am ashamed of myself.

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by oldstudent, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 20, 2007

    I have been a substitute for almost ten years, although I have never had my own classroom.

    Just when I thought I might be getting over the hump in properly implementing behavior management, I got seriously humbled today.

    I worked as a roving sub, and entered a 6th grade class today from 1:00 till 3:00.

    My plans were to have students take turns reading Scholastic News aloud, and then to take a test on the stories.

    It was evident from the start that this would be a class with about 6-8 chatty and unfocused boys. It was difficult to hear the students that were reading.

    It didn't take long for a paper wad to speed across the room. Soon afterwards, an apple was thrown across the room.

    I made it clear that the next person I saw throwing something would go immediately to the office and explain their behavior in writing.

    My problem was that more apple halves, paper wads, and even a long eraser, always seemed to wizz by when the perpetrator was out of my perepheral vision, so I could not see who was doing it. An apple even streamed right by my head from across the room.

    Also, since I came in late, I had no idea of any names, and I knew I could not count on them to be honest about who they were.
    There was no seating chart, so I later learned many of the troublemakers were together in wrong seats.

    I did not shout at them, but rather I became quietly unrattled. I kept my cool for the most part.
    Later, I received a phone call from the teacher next store that students were banging against the wall. I supposed I was disgruntled to the point where I didn't even notice this.

    I should have sent at least two of the students to the office to show the class I meant business , but I had already sent a 3rd grader to the office earlier in the day ( per the teachers advanced request), and did not think it reflected well on me if I sent another one, especially since the office was small. I was afraid this would show the principal that I could not manage classrooms well.

    Today I proved the principal would have been right.

    I was embarrassed at about 2:15 as the teacher came in to reprimand her class. Apparently the situation was deemed dire enough that someone called her from the meeting to address her class.
    The floor was a mess, and I noticed before the teacher arrived that students were unraveling some white paper towels across the floor.

    She made them clean up the floor, and then went back to her meeting. The class then became more civil, and the principal came in to make sure everything was OK.

    Although this was a difficult situation, I am still truly ashamed of myself. I have been in over 1,000 classrooms, and should have done a much better job of handling this class.
    I should have also been the recipient of some of the teacher's wrath.
    I am truly embarrassed as well.

    I am also returning to this school the next three days, although I do not know what class(es). Chances are, I will be with them again.

    I wanted to know if anyone felt that I should confess this shame to the teacher and aplogize for my failures. Would such an apology be a sign of strength or weakness?

    Also, if anyone has any suggestions on how to handle this class tomarrow, or later, your suggestions are most welcome.

    Thanks.
     
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  3. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Feb 21, 2007

    I would get a roll sheet for this class and make my own seating chart. I would make it clear that the first person who throws anything will get sent to the office. Walk around the room while instructing. You might also ask the teacher for a list of troublemakers. Do not apologize to the teacher. The class should apologize to you for treating you so disrespectfully. Terry G.
     
  4. ElementaryJane

    ElementaryJane Rookie

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    Feb 21, 2007

    I would respectfully suggest that you give yourself a break.

    Classes happen, and sometimes at the wrong time and to the wrong teacher. I could write reams, but you have to decide if you want to pull yourself out of this pity party and straighten your shoulders. You are responsible for your behavior, not anyone else's. (My only specific comment is this - many classroom teachers would be mortified with their own shame and guilt if their students acted up for a sub).

    If you've been subbing for 10 years, you must know if you can teach or not by now, and if you want to.

    Experiences are keys. Sounds like this one fits a big door. Only you know where it leads. Don't let undeserving emotions like shame, guilt and pity make your decisions for you.

    Good luck.
     
  5. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 21, 2007

    I have shame and guilt, but not self pity. I realize these situations are part of the job, and feel fortunate they are few and far between.

    Can I teach? I think so, but I realize subbing only gives me a fraction of experience relative to the full contractual experience, so I will not know for sure until I get my own classroom.

    I don't agree with the statement that I am only responsible for my own behavior and not anyone else's.
    Subs are responsible for their students' behavior. If I believed otherwise, I would fail regularly, not rarely.

    That being said, I do lament the location of this experience.

    Overall, I like this school, and was considering asking the Principal to keep me in mind for any possible openings next year. I probably will later, but this incident does not help my chances.
     
  6. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Feb 21, 2007

    I too subbed for many years with the added pressure of wanting a principal to notice how wonderful I was and hire me on the spot! I've got to say that sometimes you just have those kinds of days. Awful! Relax - when they call you again, maybe you can talk about the day with the principal or the teacher you were subbing for. You may find out that you weren't so bad after all. Maybe the other teachers knew what this group was like and were listening in to help you out. Yes, you should have been given a seating chart, and yes, you should have been able to figure out at least one student to send to the office. It may not have made a difference though. After 10 years, you know your stuff. I would worry more if all that was going on in your room and you didn't know it was a problem.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 21, 2007

    I am sorry that you had the day from h e l l. In retrospect, you would have made some different decisions. That's it. Done. I have utmost respect for subs who pick themselves up and are ready for the next assignment at a moment's notice. (The Minutemen had nothing on you.) At my school, the disruptive kids would have a lot of explaining to do to the principal.
     
  8. Momzoid

    Momzoid Companion

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    Feb 21, 2007

    The teacher you subbed for should have left you a seating chart. The we all know once a sub comes in, the class will try to take control. It has happened to everyone who subs. I know it is hard to come in late and get started. This might be the time to get out the bag of tricks that was mentioned in another thread to use so you can spend a few minutes preparing for the class. Don't give up! Likes the others have said its not all your fault. Reflect on your day, make some plans for the next time this happens, then relax with that cup of cocoa and enjoy your evening.
     
  9. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 21, 2007

    As expected, I could not escape my karma, as I was once again placed in this same classroom today for one hour. This time it was in the morning.

    After having been chewed out by the teacher, the class was comparatively far more civil today. The worse offender spent all day in the office.

    Apparently my experience was the topic of much conversation among the six grade teachers.

    After speaking with some of the more trustworthy students, the Vice Principal and teacher determined that there were 11 perpetrators. They were all kept in for recess, lunch, and after school, while being continually grilled by the vice principal. Seventeen students were initially held in from breaks, but some who were determined to be innocent were let out.

    These 11 students have been issued the most embarrasing punishment imaginable.

    Their parents are to be contacted, and will be required to take time out from their day, AND SIT WITH THESE STUDENTS IN CLASS, five at a time.

    The biggest offender who spent the day in the office, has been expelled indefinetely. I overheard that he will not return.

    Needless to say, these students were not let off lightly, but I am troubled knowing that if I only had the sense to send at least a couple to the office, things probably do not get out of hand, and everyone involved could have avoided the worst of this fiasco.

    I have learned that trying to save face in the eyes of the staff can blow up in your face, and for me, it blew up big time.
     
  10. orangepurple

    orangepurple Companion

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    Feb 21, 2007

    Wow--the school administration certainly seems to be taking this seriously. I would say the worst for me is when something goes really wrong and they don't do much about it.

    I hate having a short time in class and no seating chart. It does seem as if things can get out of control very quickly when you have no names. I had a day last month with high school where 5 periods went very smoothly, not all totally easy but quite manageable, but the second to last class of the day was a disaster. No idea who anyone was, kids playing radios hidden in their backpacks-- as I turned from one side of the room to the other, they would turn them on and then off when I looked that way--I quickly figured out who one of them was, but he refused to tell me his name! I had to remind him that it was going to look a lot worse if I had to tell the principal that he refused to give me his name but he still wouldn't tell me. Then I went to the phone to call the office to say that I had this problem--only there was no phone directory and I couldn't make the phone work!! Naturally I was kicking myself for not having checked this out earlier, but I had subbed in different rooms there that had clear directions for calling the office right on the wall. So I actually had to go next door and ask another teacher. I also felt embarrassed about needing that help, but with a class of perfect strangers and no way to identify them, it can be really bad! You can second guess yourself and maybe see in hindsight what might have been more effective (and I must say I will always check the phone numbers in the future!) and perhaps learn something from it, but there is only so much you can do. As the administration where you were working seems to think, the students need to take responsibility for behaving respectfully in the classroom. There is only so much a sub can do when more than a couple of the kids act up at once and you don't even know their names.
     
  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Feb 22, 2007

    With the administration taking such a hard stand, I would suspect there is some history here. Some groups (like mine!) are very difficult and have a hard time with a substitute teacher, no matter how great they are! Don't worry so much about it.
     
  12. mhcooley

    mhcooley Companion

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    Feb 22, 2007

    I feel bad for you that this happened. My second graders were out of control the other day for a sub. The one boy that was expelled must of had problems before. I am glad to see this administration taking such a stand. I wish more schools had these types of punishments as well. Good for them.
     
  13. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 22, 2007

    What a great response from admin. Why do you still see this as 'blowing up in your face'?
     
  14. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Feb 22, 2007

    I have been a sub for nine years and a regular teacher for 4. About 2 monsths ago I had to sub for 9th grade English. The only lesson plan the students had was doing oral reports and they graded themselves. When they finished I did another class out of my sub book. All of the classes lasted two hours and I had 3 for the day. The first two classes went fine but the last class was terrible. Two girls started harassing me. They called me filthy names and they followed me around the class when I walked around managing the other students. I requested help from the teacher next door as the administrative offices were at another site 2 miles away. The teacher refused to help me and I dealt with the situation by ignoring the girls and focusing on the class. There was a teacher there that was an active administrator and I should have contacted him. There was no phone in the class. Nevertheless I felt that I did the best that I could and I have never been back at that school since. I simply will not accept assignments there. Terry G.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 22, 2007


    Exactly what I was thinking. They don't expell a child for giving one sub a hard time. He had to have been issued several prior warnings. (Besides, a "good" kid doesn't normally turn evil overnight. I'm guessing that this was the last straw... it was only a matter of time and you were unlucky enough to be the teacher in the room at the time.)

    If there are some lessons you can learn from this, great. But otherwise, give yourself a break. You were a sub walking in late to a class with no seating chart and no idea who the kids were. (The day to day teacher must know the kind of kids she has by now...why on earth is there no seating chart???) In the final analysis, no one was hurt and they did call you back another day. So they're not nearly as troubled by your performance as you are.

    Hang in there!!
     
  16. ramana

    ramana New Member

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    Feb 22, 2007

    Hi,
    It is pretty scary to read all those experiences(especially of sub teachers).I have taught for 9 years in India,mostly in high school.But never had a problem with discipline.Ofcourse kids do get restless and there is some noise/talking and the like, but could always be hushed back to silence and attention.

    Currenltly I am seeking a teaching position in Ohio,USA.
    This brings a question,which level of schools is hard to discipline in USA? Primary, middle or High school? I appreciate any feed back on this.

    Thanks!!
     
  17. sub&mom

    sub&mom Companion

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    Feb 22, 2007

    It truly depends on several things whether or not a class is difficult. I've found middle school to be the most difficult generally. However, in my district we have a group of 2nd graders that most subs have refused to return to. It just depends on the teacher, school, dynamics in the class and parents. If you feel you might have a problem keeping order, I would start with the elementary levels and work your way up. Best of luck to you. :)
     
  18. smilingteacher

    smilingteacher Rookie

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    Feb 22, 2007

    oldstudent,

    You did an amazing job. If you can deal with the day you were given, and they asked you back, you can do anything. It seems the administration has your back and believes the behavior was the students problem not yours. I will tell you now. If you want less of these problems become a full time teacher.

    I've only substituted for a few months and will tell you the minute a students acts up or talks out of line. There should be an immediate consequence for their actions or they will take advantage of you. Especially, in the first few seconds of teaching the class. You set the tone.

    Do you tell the students anything about you? Where your from, if your married, any kids? Hobbies?

    Want to know a way to get a students name? Find the students that get to class early or that sit in the front. If a student is in trouble and doing something wrong they will not tell you their name, ever! Also teachers aides can be a blessing. They normally know the students by name. At the high school level they can be students and some are terrible.

    John
     
  19. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Feb 22, 2007

    You had a bad day, really bad. We have all been there. I personally have spent nights sobbing because the kids have been so out of control. As a sub, for only a few hours at that, you really can't be held accountable for everything that happened. Others have said the same. You had no idea what happened earlier in the day, what this class is like, if there were challenge children,etc. But you do have a chance to get better.

    Think of it this way-baptism by fire. It was rotten and difficult and humbling, but now you have a chance to get stronger, figure out how you could handle a similar situation in the future, become a better teacher.

    I have the utmost repsect for substitute teachers. You're job is not easy, more difficult than the regular teacher's because s/he knows the kids better. You did the best you could. Now go have some chocolate or hot tea or a martini. Tomorrow will be better. I promise.
     
  20. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Feb 22, 2007

    I agree completely! I wouldn't supply in my classroom more than once--my boys can be brutal to teachers they don't know. There are a couple of supplies who have come back on several occasions and I take my hat off to them! (In fact, for one of them, there's a bottle of wine waiting the next time he's in).
     
  21. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Feb 22, 2007

    Wow, that was a horrible experience, but you are to be commended for dealing with it as calmly as you did.
     
  22. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 23, 2007

    Actually, the office manager, set up three consecutive days for me as a rover last month, so I was already scheduled to be at the school these three days.
    My odds of getting these students a second day was one out of three, and I did.
    All of the credit for handling this situation goes primarily to the Vice principal, and to the teacher to a lesser degree.

    Apparently the main perpetrator was not removed indefinitely after all. I saw him standing outside the classroom today.

    The teacher seems good natured, but I could tell she was disappointed that I was the one who returned to her class.

    I do appreciate the efforts of this Vice Principal.



    Believe it or not, however, this was only my second worse day in a classroom.

    About eight years ago, I was in a high school math class. There were no windows in the room, so all was pitch black when the lights went out.
    As I went to the board (trying to remember Algebra) to write a problem on the board, a student got up to turn off the lights.
    The room became dangerous instantaneously as boys were heaving large textbooks across the room while the girls were screaming. I could not move, since there was 100% darkness, and I did not want to get hit by a book.
    The room was littered with torn textbooks.
    I invited the campus security supervisor in charge to look at the state of the room. I do not recall exact details, but he put the blame on me and said something like, "why are you showing me this, can't you keep things under control." He later berated me for "allowing" kids to hang out near the door during class time.

    Needless to say, I never accepted a job at this school again.

    I am trying to become a full time teacher, and have come close, but being both older and monolingual here in California without having had my own class, does not make me a hot commodity.

    Nevertheless, I will continue on my quest.
     
  23. mhcooley

    mhcooley Companion

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    Feb 23, 2007

    That is terrible. I wonder what became of those students who did that?
     
  24. ThinkOutLoud

    ThinkOutLoud Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2007

    All I'm thinking right now is that we should ALL be getting paid more. Here in Australia, the Department of Education have SUCH SHOCKING administrative skills that sometimes I don't even GET paid.
    I mean, sometimes money is the only thing left to console myself with after a hard day....then when my pay doesn't go in, I've HAD IT.
     
  25. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Feb 27, 2007

    You knew enough to know you had lost control of the class. That is a major step. Most of the subs I have trouble with don't seem to understand that they don't have control of the kids. As a teacher, if a sub came to me and admitted they were having trouble with my class I would completely respect them. As a teacher I know I have a responsibility to leave my room in such a manner that a sub can succeed. If you let the teacher know that not having a seating chart made it hard for you. Our school actually requires us to have certain things for a sub. I'm sure you do it already, but leave a fairly detailed report for the teacher and be blunt about things that made it hard. (No seating chart, no detailed plans, etc). Good luck!
     

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