Mistake You've Made

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by substitutesftw, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Aug 9, 2010

    Mistakes You've Made

    What are some mistakes you've made on the job? :eek:

    I've learned a lot over the last couple of years, and it was often through mistakes.


    When I first began subbing, one of the big ones was being too inconspicuous in the mornings. I'm a little shy around new people, and I suppose I was being low-key and waiting the first few minutes of the day to get a "feel" for the class. In my district, announcements begin right after students should all be in the rooms; as they arrive, if there's no warm-up, they really have nothing to do for the first few minutes.

    Some kids come in the door loudly and socialize, and I would just let them. I guess I was hoping their energy would fizzle out in a few minutes. :confused:

    BIG MISTAKE! I had a couple of classes behave terribly because I gave them the wrong impression in the opening minutes of the day. :( I quickly learned that students will talk too loudly if they have nothing to do before class really begins, and it will be too hard to transition them to "learning mode." It was too late to try to be firm after they got off to a noisy start.

    Pretty soon, I always made it a point to give a first impression that I'm no-nonsense. I stand right at the door and give the same greeting: "Hi, I'm Ms. Subtitutesftw. Come on in, get your paper and pencils ready because we have a warm up for you to begin now. We've got a lot to do today, ladies and gentlemen!" I'm now obsessed about getting them seated, quiet and focused on a warm-up and until announcements begin. :lol: I lighten up (if I can) as the day progresses, but I never want to come off shy and quiet again.
     
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  3. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    The ONLY mistake I've ever md was a pretty big one when I 1st started subbing eons ago. I was subbing for a K or 1st gr class I believe. This kid's babysitter gave me some medication the kid had to tk. Well, rather than telling her that she needs to tk that to the ofc to be given to the school nurse, I took it & ended up losing it, but found it later...but not before the principal found out I lost it & started calling all the student's parents to alert them that their child may have accidentally taken some meds. :eek::mad: I know it's kind of common sense to hv meds taken to the ofc, but way back then, no one talked about it & I just didn't think about doing it at the time. I was a brand new sub.
     
  4. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Aug 10, 2010

    I've done this as well. Sometimes, I've even forgotten to write my name on the board because I've been to the school before and think the kids should just recognize me.

    It's ironic, but I sometimes find myself being very quiet and almost shy in certain classes (I know you would never guess that from my posts in the other thread. LOL). It happens most often when the students have a lot of work to do and they know what they are supposed to be doing. They don't really need a lot of instructions or directions from me, so I get them settled, take attendance, give them the assignment and let them get started. If there is no "teaching" for me to do with the material, I sometimes just let the students get started and go to work. That isn't always bad. Sometimes it's good to have them working most of the period, but it goes against my natural personality.

    Of course, there was one math class where I actually gave the students TOO much work. I misread the teacher's lesson plan and thought the students were supposed to complete both worksheets he had left before the end of the period. That was a total of about 120 math problems. (I figured out later in the day that only the FIRST worksheet had to be done by end of class. They second worksheet wasn't actually due until the next day :eek: ). When one class had a little trouble getting settled in, I told them "You have a TREMENDOUS amount of work to do this period. You need to get settled and get started as quickly as possible." When I told them they had roughly 120 problems to complete, they gasped in shock, then worked furiously the whole time.

    I felt bad after discovering the mistake, but I have to admit they were some of the quietest students I ever had. :whistle:
     
  5. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Aug 10, 2010

    ^LOL! That's why I like to keep them busy! Even if it's not "work," I have to channel their energy to something productive.

    Related to my first post, I also realized that a end-of-day activity is just as important as a warm-up, for pretty much the same reason. In a lot of lesson plans, our teachers suggest packing up and getting ready to go about 15 or so minutes before the bell.

    This is good for when you have papers to pass out, homework to hand out and a room to clean. Other times, that's way too early. In my naivete, I used to let the class get ready to go and just wait until the bell rang.

    BIG MISTAKE! On too many occasions, chaos would ensue. Even if the kids are lined up at the door, something would happen. They'd get loud, play around and start acting as if they'd already been dismissed. I remember once a boy shoved another and knocked over a desk! They were playing around moments before the bell rang.

    That's why I now always wait until just a few minutes before the bell to line everyone up (unless we have to clean up or do something else). I also have something to keep them occupied as I call groups/rows one at a time to pack up and sit back down. It could be a brain teaser, or listen to a read-aloud, answering a few riddles, weird history facts, ANYTHING. I simply can't trust most classes to have ten or fifteen minutes with nothing to do.
     
  6. waffles

    waffles Companion

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    I once took an iPod, put it under some stuff on the teacher's desk, went and talked to a kid in the class, and came back to the desk to find the iPod gone. I'm convinced that the kid either took it back or had someone else do it.

    Luckily the school didn't mind too much and told me that he shouldn't have had it out anyway.
     
  7. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Aug 10, 2010

    Amen, sister. I also learned very quickly to have some type of activity ready for the end of class, because it takes about 10 seconds for the kids to get bored and start looking for ways to "entertain" themselves. One of my favorite activities are lateral thinking questions. I'll read the question to the class and often go down each row, giving every student a chance to either ask a question to clarify the problem or guess the answer. I also use riddles. I used to have a good collection of riddles several years ago, but I've lost them. I've also looked up several riddles and lateral thinking problems online. There are thousands of samples available.

    My CT had a very simple activity that also worked great. She would say "I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100", then have students start guessing. She would tell them if they were too high or too low. It's a great activity because it moves quickly and the kids have to pay attention to what the others guess, so it keeps them involved.

    One problem I had with some HS students is that they would put their stuff away and "line up" on their own about 5 minutes or so before the bell rang. Some of them would even try to "sneak" out into the hallway so they could have a couple of extra minutes break between classes. Having a "filler" activity for the end of class helped get this under control quickly.
     
  8. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Aug 10, 2010

    Most of the high schools in our district allow kids to listen to iPods or MP3 players while doing their work. I tell the kids they can do that, as long as they don't spend more time looking for songs than working on the assignment. If I see students searching for a specific song every time the current one ends, I tell them they will have to put the music up if it is going to be too much of a distraction.
     
  9. Miss Snix

    Miss Snix Companion

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    The biggest mistake I've made was letting children go to early in the afternoon. It was a grade one class at a school I rarely work at, most schools here finish at 3pm but this school finished at 3.10pm. The school also didn't have a lound bell sound but a short quick buzzer sound I had trouble hearing. Thankfully the parents waiting outside (giving very unimpressed looks) let me know and I was able to gather the students back that didn't have parents waiting. Lesson learned.
     
  10. GlendaLL

    GlendaLL Aficionado

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    Aug 23, 2010

    On Friday, I was in a classroom where the clock was broken. I thought that I could just use my watch to follow the teacher's schedule. Unbeknownst to me, my watch battery was not working very well.
    At ten minutes after the time we were supposed to be at lunch, another teacher popped in and told me that we were late!

    Next time - I will check my watch before the school year starts!!!
     
  11. teachnfl

    teachnfl Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2010

    I made my biggest mistake on one of my first sub jobs in a third grade 3 years ago when I started. I sent a disruptive student out by the room door to calm down (after changing seat and conferencing with him). I asked the student to stand by the door outside, compose himself and return in a couple minutes when he was ready.
    BIG NO! NO!
    During specials, the next door teacher came into the classroom to firmly inform me that sending the student out by himself was 'unacceptable at this school' and to send any disruptive students to her class instead. :eek:
    LOL..:lol:..looking back now, it seems like common sense, but at the time, I didn't want to bother other teachers with class issues and thought sending students to another teacher's class would reflect poorly on me---NOW, I know that's NOT true! ;)
     
  12. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    I let 2 young men go to their lockers to get stuff. Needless to say they never came back to class. Another teacher yelled at me, called me an idiot in front of my class, which was wrong. It was a mistake, but I would never embarrass someone like that. Talk to me outside if you have an issue.
     
  13. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    ^Oh no, lol!


    I never send students out to the hall. I know sometimes teachers and subs will seat a disruptive student right outside the door, or move their whole desk out there. I think it's "frowned upon" in my district, since I guess you're leaving a student unattended, even if the door is open. And I only send students to another classroom if the other teacher volunteered earlier in the day. Otherwise, if I'm sending a student out of the room, they're headed to the office.

    Wait, no, I remember a few misbehaving special ed students who requested to be sent to either a counselor or a specialist teacher, and I've done that.

    It can sometimes get frustrating to tolerate a difficult student when I'd much rather send them out, but I usually can deal with it. In two years, I think I've only had to send two students to the office.
     
  14. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Wow! How rude! :eek:


    What grade were they in? I don't get it. Are they not allowed to leave class at all? If you had allowed them to get to the restroom, the same thing could have happened. I don't even know how I'd react to that. So unprofessional.:sorry:
     
  15. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    One day, subbing high school, a small class of 6 convinced me to let them spend the last 10 minutes in the courtyard just outside the classroom door. The kids left the classroom (they were still in my view - but not in the room) and sure enough, while I was gathering my stuff to go join the kids, a security guard came rushing in - looking for a kid who had actually ditched 30 minutes before. I could hear him announce on his radio "There are no kids here, there are no students in the room!" Then he rushed out before I had the chance to explain. It was really awkward, I had to explain everything to my supervisor.
     
  16. Special-t

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    what a fiasco that must have been :dizzy:
     
  17. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Well, the issue was I let 2 students go at the same time. It was only my third day on the job. I've since learned not to be so trusting.
     
  18. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Not a major deal, but I remember grading a class set of spelling tests trying to be helping...and then realizing how I assess the work or assign a grade is not necessarily how the teacher did. In my book if there are ten questions and a student misses one, that earns the student a 90%...but I've since learned that isn't always the case. You never know what system a teacher uses. I would have just paperclipped them and moved on with life in retrospect. :)
     
  19. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    ^That reminds me, do teachers want subs to grade papers? I've heard subs saying that it's helpful for the teacher, but I never really do for the exact reason you describe. Also, if the assignment has written answer, you'd never know how the teacher would give partial credit or accept certain answers.


    I've been thinking it might just be a good idea to check over simple worksheets with one answer, mark an "x" for wrong answers, and leave the actual grading to the teacher.
     
  20. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    As a sub...

    Coming too late (to REALLY read the daily plans...a quick buzz through is not enough to be confident in my instruction -from the very beginning).

    ****

    Past that....ALL the silly things I tried as classroom managment strategies BEFORE I found Power Teaching/Whole Brain Teaching (WBT).

    DO check it out...it helps SO much. For those who don't know about it - there is a WBT forum here in AtoZ. And i will find the lick to my mini-blog about Power Teaching (WBT's former name) and subbing...and I will put it in the next post.
     
  21. McKennaL

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    Aug 23, 2010

  22. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    What a fiasco this sounds like as well! :dizzy:
     
  23. TimeToTeach1

    TimeToTeach1 Rookie

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    Kids always want to engage you in a debate. For example,

    Student: "This is boring! Why do we have to do this?"
    Teacher: "What do you mean boring, I stayed up until 3am preparing this lesson!"
    Student: "It's dumb - why can't we just do . . ."
    Teacher: Takes it personally and continues the debate with student.


    My biggest mistake is very clear in my mind.

    I remember losing control by engaging in a similar battle with a student. The student NEVER wants to "lose face" in front of their peers, so they'll stop until they win.

    This is ABSOLUTELY A NO WIN SITUATION for the teacher.

    Lesson: Always have self-control!!
     
  24. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    I let seniors go to lunch 5 minutes early since everyone had finished their work. A security guard came in screaming I cant do that and I'm liable for them if something happens. =(
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I once had a class-- a sub, I think, where EVERYONE had to go to the bathroom. At one point, I put my foot down and said that no one else would be allowed to go. (Mistake #1.)

    Then, a few minutes later, a girl gave me that "Omigod, it's an emergency!!!" look and asked if she could go to the bathroom. So I said yes, with no conditions (Mistake #2.)

    One of the boys, of course, pointed out that I had just said that no one else could go to the bathroom. My brilliant response??? "Well, I guess I just like girls better than boys."
    HUGE MISTAKE #3.
     
  26. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Just a couple of weeks ago I was subbing for a teacher for a whole week. Although it's the school where I am most of the time, I didn't really know most of the students, but they've seen me walking around (and I knew a few). So there was this one guy (about 17), very nice, respectful with a long, nicely braided ponytail. I thought it was very nice, so a few times I lovingly called him 'ponytails", because I didn't know his name. I do this sometimes, and it's never a problem.
    He asked me to please not call him that. I felt so bad! I was thinking, why am I calling this kid this name, even though it's nice in my mind, who knows how he takes it? I apologized but I know it didn't mean too much to him at that time.
    Later on during that day one of the kids asked me to say something in Hungarian. So I did, looking at this student. they were all amazed how strange it sounded, and he asked me what I said. I said "I said I'm sorry I called you ponytails". His face brightened up, and I saw that now we were ok.

    As I got to know him later on that week, I realized that he is extremely sensitive. There were a few more things I said / did, that showed me that his feelings got hurt, not much, but he was a basic reminder, that even these tough guys can be so sensitive.
    We're ok though, he likes and respects me, so i don't think I caused problems for him. I'm very quick to admit and apologize when I do something wrong, I don't care about my pride.
     
  27. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    Nov 12, 2012

    I am covering for a teacher until further notice and this is the first time I have a class for consecutive days. I am not used to handling paperwork and have made some mistakes with that. It's a lot to keep track of.
     
  28. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I lost a key but luckily it was found the next day. I lost track of a student (18 yrs old an insisted on leaving the classroom) and, of course, the parent called looking for him. It was very embarrassing and stressful.
     

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