I had my most challenging sub day yet, and I'm returning Monday!

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by Tek, May 12, 2012.

  1. Tek

    Tek Comrade

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    May 12, 2012

    Isn't it "amazing" how Fridays increases your chances of subbing by about 85%? That was the case yesterday as they called me 6:20 AM (beats the super duper late 7:30 AM phone call).

    I was excited; it was my first first grade assignment. Coincidentally, the other day my friend was telling me how she likes K, 2-3. I asked her what she has against 1st grade and she said "With K I can be patient. By 2nd they're usually good to go. 1 though, they're not quite 'ready' and sometimes I lack the patience balancing that along with my expectations of what a 1st grader should be able to do."

    I had yet to sub for 1st grade so I told her I'll have to see how I feel about it myself. Sure enough, couple days later, boom.

    When I arrived, they told me to be aware of Kenny. Said he has difficulty sitting still and doing the 1st grade work. I arrived and there were no lesson plans whatsoever. And this wasn't half day, this was full day. I was like "Uhhhh...." trembling like a newborn kitten. Then walked in one of the teachers and she said she spoke with the regular teacher and here's what I could do for the day.

    Anyway, I've never had rowdier kids before. They were bouncing off the walls. Kenny really belongs in SDC. Even the teacher told me "he doesn't have to do the regular work, he can color or work on one of the computers." It was clear he had a learning disability. What that is, I was not informed of.

    So basically, I was working with 25 1st graders who I didn't know half the names for (couldn't remember in 1 day their names so I felt even less in control than I would had I known their names on cue) AND Kenny required me constantly focusing on him. It was honestly like the sub experience from a movie or nightmare. A small handful constantly getting out of their seats, students encouraging Kenny to do bad things (i.e. pretend your crayon is a cigarette! Can you believe that? I didn't think an "innocent" 6 year old had that in him!)

    The day felt incredibly long. At the end, per the next door teacher's recommendation, I put on a movie and was able to work with Kenny 1 on 1. He needs 1 on 1 focus and attention. The reason he's not in SDC is because he moved here 3 weeks ago and this school doesn't have SDC. It's a shame, because he clearly does not belong in a standard 1st grade classroom. I guess they're stuck in a case of "Well it's already May... so just do the best you can til June..."

    Even the secretary and principal warned me about Kenny in the morning. They warned me too that after lunch he usually "loses it" so I can send him to the office if need be. Thankfully he didn't lose it to the point where I had to send him off, but he was a constant handful all day long, though slightly better with 1 on 1 attention in the afternoon time.

    The secretary asked me if I would come back Monday SAME class for a half day. I decided to take it. To be honest the day left me with a semi-bitter taste in my mouth, and I felt like I wanted a re-try if you will. Now that I know the students' names, what they're sort of like, and how the classroom is arranged and ran. I have a better idea of what to expect and what to do on Monday.

    At the end a couple teachers checked in with me. I told them I'll be back for a re-try on Monday. One said no, not a re-try. You're continuing.

    What a positive way to look at it! Any tips for dealing with a room of rowdy 1st graders AND one child who should be in SDC?

    I just know I want to give this one more go. I get that chance Monday!
     
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  3. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    May 12, 2012

    That sounds like a difficult class.

    No advice, but I'm glad you're willing to take the challenge again. Good luck on Monday!
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 12, 2012

    Seems like you had your work cut out for you. One caveat..don't be so quick to judge and categorize the 'Kennys' you come across.:2cents:
     
  5. jojothesub

    jojothesub Rookie

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    May 12, 2012

    It's a good thing that you accepted to return on monday. That probably will show the secretary and principal your willingness and ability to work with a difficult class and specifically with Kenny.
    Good luck for monday!!!
     
  6. Tek

    Tek Comrade

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    May 13, 2012


    Very true. When I worked with him 1 on 1 on a review sheet, he answered the questions correctly when I verbalized it. He had trouble reading, but when he heard me state the questions and 3 possible answers, he was able to provide me with the right answer. That was definitely encouraging.

    He does struggle tremendously with his reading ability. For example, he could not read the word "the." I had him repeat it 5 times and the next time "the" came up, he was able to self-identify it. However, after a long weekend and lack of reinforcement, he's likely to forget it.

    It seems like he knows the right answers, but he needs the questions to be verbalized. A specific tutor/aid would do him wonders. I was all alone in the classroom.

    Jojo, I didn't think of it that way. Good stuff! Yeah, the secretary was even saying "Are you sure? I mean, if first grade is not your thing, it's totally understandable..." she totally gave me an "out" to gracefully decline her offer. It was kind of funny. She also said something like "Well since you subbed today some consistency would be nice..." and other comments like "I'm glad you're not scared away... some others..." as her voice trailed off. I get the strong sense that a lot of subs in the past have turned down the offer to sub for this 1st grade teacher. The secretary also admitted to me that they wanted to see how a male sub would fare with Kenny. I was wondering why I got first crack at this 1st grade sub position early Friday morning. I imagine the more veteran subs would get first crack, but that 6:20 AM call suggests they decided to go straight with me and there was definitely a "catch" to it.

    Hey, I'll take it. I'm a rookie sub and need all the experience I can get.

    I was pretty adamant on giving it another shot. "No no, I can do it," I told her as I took her reminder note for my half-day assignment. Funny how she wrote it, offered it to me, but pulled it half-way back and reiterated that it was OK for me to decline...

    I hope I can do it! :) And worst comes to worst, it's only a half day assignment... praying for a breakthrough somehow though!
     
  7. jojothesub

    jojothesub Rookie

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    May 13, 2012

    Tek,

    If you don't mind, take a look at my thread "Urgent for a new sub", I am facing a real dilemma. Let me know what you think, please.
     
  8. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    May 13, 2012

    You know, even if you had a lot of difficulty with this class, try not to automatically chalk it up to your own lack of management skills. I've been in many a class that's been awful to me, and then I come back in some other capacity (maybe subbing for an aide) and get to see the class while the actual teacher is there.... and they behave the same way for the teacher! It's easy to think that the kids' behavior is all on you, but try to remember there could be other things at play here, as well. This is something I always need to remember... I have a tendency to beat myself up over every little thing that goes wrong! Good luck on your second day!
     
  9. Tek

    Tek Comrade

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    May 13, 2012

    jojo, will do.

    Thanks. Me too. I can beat myself up as well. It's really difficult for a sub to come in and instantly command respect as "subs" are naturally tested and I guess in some/many cases the kids purposely act out a bit more. It goes with the territory. Especially for rookie subs it's difficult to come in and expect the kids (of any grade) to be instant angels.

    A good reminder so that you don't doubt your own classroom management skills! I assume it only gets better as you go along. This is my first year subbing, actually, my first half year as my 1st assignment was Feb. 2012. It's definitely been a good experience for me!
     
  10. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    May 13, 2012

    Sounds like you did good if they are asking you to come back!

    Learning some songs will really help with the lower grades if you are nervous about management with little ones. My favs for first are "ram sam sam" and "If you love me (plant a rose for me)" You can probably google them, or try to find some other short songs with actions. Any time you need focus, just start singing. They will completely stop what they are doing and focus on you. Works great!
     
  11. Zabeth

    Zabeth Rookie

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    May 13, 2012

    One word: nametags. Get some blank labels from the dollar store to use, and before class begins, use the attendance roster to make them up. While taking attendance, have kids come up one by one to get their nametag. You should wear one, too.

    It's really important to call kids by their names! Great for redirecting behavior.

    A book that you could read as an icebreaker: Miss Nelson Is Missing. (I use this book often when I sub.) Then you could talk a bit about your expectations for a successful day.
     
  12. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    May 13, 2012

    It sounds like you did the best you could & that's great that you're willing to do it again on Mon. My very 1st day I ever subbed was for a 1st gr class. I remember thinking how little they were because other than work, I'm NEVER around any kids whatsoever. I guess the teacher was sick & couldn't have plans that day, which was unfortunate, but people usually know when they're getting sick & to get prepared. People suddenly aren't sick, unless she woke up w/ food poisoning or something else sudden. Even then, she should have kept a sub folder from day 1 all set to go! :mad:
     

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