I WANT to be a nice sub, but...

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by sks72, May 25, 2012.

  1. sks72

    sks72 Rookie

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    May 25, 2012

    I am an inherently kind teacher, who likes to reward. I even got accused of being "too soft" by both of my student teaching co-ops. :love:

    Now that I'm out in the great big world of substitute teaching, I feel like all I do is discipline all freaking day. It is so incredibly exhausting. It was never like this when I was student teaching or did field work.

    I barely teach (although I facilitate lessons, obviously), and the entire focus is classroom management. The kids see me, scream "WE HAVE A SUB!" and then instantly ask me to pee, go to the nurse, get a drink of water, or sharpen their pencil. Then they just ignore what I say, and I have to end up doing tricks I hate, like taking minutes off of recess, giving them a lecture on respect, etc.:beatdeadhorse:

    Does this get easier or what? Can anyone relate? Any tricks on how to focus on OTHER things, beside "NO YOU JUST WENT TO THE BATHROOM AND PLEASE STOP TATTLING?!" :p:confused:
     
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  3. sks72

    sks72 Rookie

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    I'd like to add, if you are a teacher who gets me as a sub, you will have every single molecule of work on your lesson plan COMPLETED. So that's why I've been focusing on classroom management so much. I care about what the teacher/principal thinks the next day.
     
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You just keep on regulating :) Your job is not to be nice, it is to handle your students, control your classroom and see that work gets done.
    don't worry about being nice!!
     
  5. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    It doesn't get any better. The kids will always try to take advantage until they get use to you. Then they will only try to take advantage of you occasionally. Completing everything the teacher asked for, and controlling the classroom is the job.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 25, 2012

    Stop thinking about being the 'nice sub'. Start focusing on being the 'effective sub'.
     
  7. Vince

    Vince Rookie

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    May 25, 2012

    Every class is different, but yes, you will be spending a lot of time getting them to be quiet, stay in their seat, do their work, the list goes on. As far as the lesson plans, you will encounter some teachers who purposely give you more than they think you will need, just so you don't run out. So you might want to rethink your plan to complete every single thing. Do as much as you can and just leave a note about what you did.
     
  8. wanting2teach

    wanting2teach Rookie

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    May 25, 2012

    Subbing is hard for this reason. I like to provide incentive to the kids for a good day, like 20 minutes of free time at the end of the day. They can earn minutes for doing the right thing, and lose minutes for doing the wrong thing. This has really been effective during my time as a sub.
     
  9. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    May 25, 2012

    I once had a kinder come up to me during recess and tell me that I was a mean sub. I smiled and said, "thank you, glad to hear it". And I meant it! When I was a sub, I never had the time to put up with any silliness or nonesense. I knew that they would try to pull anything they could over me.

    Yes, it'll get better as you gain more experience. Just stay firm, fair, and consistent.

    By the way, the same girl who called me a mean sub drew me a picture at the end of the day.
     
  10. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I never give FREE time. To me it's like abandoning everything I spent the day doing. If they finish ALL of their work I tell them to silently read, do HW from another class, draw, write a letter to their congressman, etc.
     
  11. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    May 26, 2012

    That is why I love teaching but don't love subbing. As substitute teachers, we will be tested by students who do the happy-dance that their teacher is absent. We don't know every routine or attention grabber set in place by the teacher, so all we can do is our best. I always spend the first few minutes of class telling them my name and expectations. I also teach them my own signal for silence and we practice twice. I do feel like a broken record though because the next day, I'll have another class and start over.
     
  12. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I don't even go that far anymore. It's rare at this point I'm in a class with students I haven't worked with yet so they already know how I operate.
     
  13. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I have always, always done that!! I think it's crucial. It's better to spend 5-10 minutes on this, and then have everything go smoothly, than not do that, and waste 20-30 minutes dealing with all sorts of problems.
    These first few minutes not only state your expectations, but most importantly, the students see that you'r one of those subs who knows what you're doing and they can't mess with you.

    I found that it was still necessary to review this information with classes I spent multiple days in. First day, go over expectations, etc. 2nd day: have students tell me what they are, and review as necessary. 3rd: day, same thing. 4th - might not be needed. You can see how the day goes.

    It's amazing what the kids will remember :), I always got a kick out of it. Some remembered weeks after :"we need to sit up straight, with out knees under the desk, and feet on the floor". :)
    ' when you say yes, we say class' (they mixed it up, but at least vaguely remembered, lol).
     
  14. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    May 26, 2012

    I think it depends on the grade level. I have found that 6th grade - 10th grade will give me problems and I can't treat them as young adults as I would like to. 11th and 12th are a different story.

    I was working a week long gig this past week for ceramics and I told the students that I had no problems with them listening to their music on their ipods while they worked as long as they kept the noise level down and would turn off the devices when I needed to give them instructions. It worked. That is something I could NEVER do for younger grades.
     
  15. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    May 26, 2012

    There's a big difference in a sub's world and a teacher's world. Unfortunately, I think the subs get the worst part of it. It's also not a true representation of what "teaching" is like.
     
  16. Oregon Sub Girl

    Oregon Sub Girl Rookie

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    May 27, 2012

    Definitely the first time in a new classroom is the hardest. I have found I have to be the strictest then. But, the more I go back to that class (and that school) the less I have to discipline. The kids respect you more when they see you a lot. However, I do find I spend more time on classroom management then I did when I was teaching full-time. Hang in there, it gets easier. My best advice is to work in the same schools/classrooms as much as possible. The kids get to know you and you can have more fun and enjoy being with them more.
     
  17. unity

    unity Rookie

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    May 27, 2012

    It Gets Better...

    I've subbed in elementary for four years, there are still the occasional days that you've mentioned! I've gotten the "I hate you"s along with the your a nice teacher-I try to stay calm and use the discipline system as long as it is working.
    My advice is :All of what Linguist said.

    Try to use procedures and routines for all of the usual going ons(how to pass papers, etc.)
    Also, have or find out policies to deal with the usual interruptions.
    What is the bathroom/pencil/leaving seat policies?
    If there are none, I like to have one at a time for lower grade bathroom, or warn upper grades that they need to use their lunch and recess time wisely, or whichever discipline method the teacher uses(card system, clothespin, name on board) will be activated to the first level!

    If the class is getting out of control, lights off, directing 'heads down' or loudly thanking those on task may help with lower grades.

    Also, the little ones may not make it until the end of the day, I like to say that we can play a game before recess if the whole class shows me they are working hard. They need breaks during the transitions at least a few times a day. I do wiggle breaks, music breaks, or simply resting breaks.

    Try things like the quiet game for younger grades. The winner can be a helper for you. Whenever you want to pick a student to help, you can announce that you are going to pick the quietest who's almost finished with their work.
     
  18. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    May 29, 2012

    No need to be nice. In fact, people on this very forum have said that if students tell them that a sub was nice, they won't have that sub back in the classroom.

    Substitute teaching and contracted teaching are two different things, and that is clearly shown by the meager paycheck offered subs. After doing it for three years, I've come to realize that our first job is to just exist in the classroom. Second is to manage the classroom, third is to get the work done. (Since three can't be done without one and two, you can see why I put them in that order).

    Lay down the rules at the beginning of the day. They go to the bathroom at recess. No pencil sharpening. Each student should have two useable pencils. Only students who are bleeding go to the nurse. Then stick to it. The only time I relent is if there is an obvious need - if a student asks mutliple times to go to the bathroom or looks ill, then I'll let them go to the nurse or bathroom.

    Same with the tattling. Tell them that your rule is that you only tell the teacher if someone is hurting you. Then, when you hear "TEECHUR" in that tattle-tone, just say you don't want to hear it.

    Odds are, they'll still like you because you're a break from the routine.
     
  19. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Subs are teachers.
     
  20. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I think this is a little extreme. I would rather a student lied about needing the bathroom, than 1 having an accident because they were nervous about speaking up. Or pass out because they needed to go to the nurse but I couldn't tell.
     
  21. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    I've never had either of those things happen. My rules are no different than the rules they have in their classrooms on a daily basis. My favorite rooms are the ones where the teacher has a ticket or classroom economy system in place. If a student really has to go, he'll give up the ticket. If not, he knows he's fooling around and he'll sit back down.
     
  22. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    :thumb:

    I don't think you have to choose between being nice and being effective. You need to set clear and consistent expectations and follow through on everything you say. That being said, there can still be a little time to laugh with them, do a review game, share a story, etc. I know there have been days when I have felt the need to be more "strict" than usual, but I still try to take the time to enjoy my time with the students. It just takes finding the right balance.
     
  23. azure

    azure Companion

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    Why do you think they're doing the happy dance when they see they have a sub? Because they think they won't be under the rule of someone as "mean" as their regular teacher.

    The highest compliment I ever got from a student, with disdain in his voice, was: "You're just like a regular teacher."
     
  24. sks72

    sks72 Rookie

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    Ya know what? Last week (which was the last week in my MOST local school district), I had the same scenario happen to me, after I was tough w/ the kid. Of course, the picture he drew me was a monster "stampeding" someone who was running away, looking worried...:p
     
  25. sks72

    sks72 Rookie

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    I think learning how to seem possessed with authority one second and click into sugary sweet teacher mode next minute is something that's essential and hard to acquire! I def agree.
     
  26. ATXMusic

    ATXMusic Rookie

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    I subbed for several years. It gets easier as you get better and being nice isn't that important.

    The kids, however, won't get better. The "YES! WE HAVE A SUB! Our teacher always lets us listen to iPods and sit on the floor!" will never stop. You just get better at dealing with it effectively.
     
  27. Tek

    Tek Comrade

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    Jun 18, 2012


    I can relate. But I've noticed my best days are when I'm firm from jump street. The great thing about subbing is you can really experiment. Of course, you do things with the kids' best interest at heart. But you know if something doesn't work, you adapt and adopt as appropriate, and you usually get a 2nd chance with a new classroom, only it will be THEIR 1st impression of you ;)

    My last sub day this school year I was ultra firm from the get-go. What a big difference it made! The kids worked hard and didn't even try to act up. It sure beat those days where I was not firm enough and the kids were driving me crazy by testing me seemingly every other 5 minutes.


    edit: my worst day was when a kindergartener actually told me "You know Mr. Tek, you can be mean to us." I kid you not. The kids were rowdy that day and I was a bit more wishy-washy than I should have been.

    That was a low for me, haha. From then on, in future classes I made it a point to be firm from the get-go. I will add though that during the final hour of that "worst day ever," I did raise my voice and put on my ultra-serious tone. The kindergarteners were shocked, all sat up and respected me.

    Unfortunately, because I had been way too soft for the first 80% of that day, that "respect" period only lasted for about 10 minutes before it wore off and they remembered how soft I was during most of the day. It did teach me a valuable lesson though! Don't be afraid to lay down the law from the opening bell. Your goal is not to be liked. Your goal is to help the kids learn and to be a quality proxy for the absent teacher.
     

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