Need substitute advice

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by meeper22, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. meeper22

    meeper22 Companion

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    Nov 17, 2010

    I want to be a better substitute teacher so that I can be a more likely candidate to sub and be a candidate for a full-time teacher. But I have problems with subbing for Middle and High Schools. Whenever I try to give an assignment, it seems like the students are doing it but they just talk and not do the work. Some students do the work but others don't.

    I try to tell them that the assignment is for the grade and that it's due at the end of the day but it's like they don't care. I don't know how else to motivate them. I can't give detentions or any punishment like that. I want to be able to get students to do the work and do the test but it's like I don't get any respect even when I look serious.

    What can I do?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2010

    Send a kid to the office!
     
  4. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    Nov 17, 2010

    don't take it too personally, I think this is a common experience for most subs. But, I do appreciate you wanting to do a good job. It's frustrating to me as a regular teacher when I return and the kids haven't done anything...then I ask them why not and they say "oh we were talking with the sub." I actually believe them too...I have observed some of the subs we normally get and they would rather talk to the kids and tell stories rather than have them work.

    I'm not sure sending a kid to the office every day is a great way to get yourself noticed by administration (nor do i think it will make you a better teacher). More likely to get you labeled as someone who can't control a classroom (although I have no idea if this is really true, just seems possible to me). When I was subbing I followed the lesson plan as closely as possible, and would have them turn in work by the end of the day. Yes, some of them were not engaged, but for the most part, kids were quiet...

    A funny story about being "on task." my first year teaching my school had 30 minutes of SSR 2 days per week. I required my students to be quiet and "read" books. Two years later they would tell me how none of them were reading and they thought it was a big joke on me...I just laughed...I read about 20 books during SSR that year, and they were quiet the whole time...I was just happy they were quiet...you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Just do the best you can, and keep it mind that the sub experience is not a perfect preparation/indicator of what a teaching assignment will be.

    Keep up the good work.
     
  5. meeper22

    meeper22 Companion

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    Nov 17, 2010

    I hate to admit it but I'm not exactly doing a GREAT job as a sub. I mean, I tell them to do the assignment, they end up talking or listening to ipods or whatever and I tell them to stop but they don't. I tell them about the assignment and they just say like "yeah, yeah yeah" but some just don't do it. What am I supposed to do with that? The school board in Florida doesn't allow subs to give detentions or anything and it leaves subs in a pickle. I got to sub for a middle school class tomorrow and friday. God be with me on those days.
     
  6. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    Nov 17, 2010

    I just recorded names and wrote full reports for the regular teacher. Sometimes I would write a whole page. Not sure what the teacher ever did with the information, but I can assure you that when I get a report on a student now, I act upon it and either assign a detention, or whatever is appropriate.
     
  7. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Nov 17, 2010

    I will often circulate around the classroom and ask student's names that are doing well and check them off on a list that I make.

    I merely thank them for maintaining good focus and inform them that this will be noted.
    I also let them know that I will be giving them a letter grade based on their efforts for the period.
    I do not raise my voice or express anger at the students doing poorly, because this just gives them positive reinforcement that that they are sucessful at getting under your skin, and they might raise their poor behavior up a notch.
    Instead of getting angry, I will sometimes use both verbal and non verbal cues to express my displeasure. I will sometimes just give them a disgusted glance that reads "what an idiot" on my face, as I make note of what I see.
    Other times I will calmly make a comment such as " Don't you have any interest in doing well?"
    This sometimes embarrasses them into doing better.

    If you do send a student to the office, make sure that you assign them something to do, such as a cause and effect letter explaining their behavior, and let the office personel know that they are to work and not just sit there.
    This will at least let the office know that you are not just getting rid of them to make it easier for you, but that they are there to actually do something that serves a purpose.
     
  8. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Nov 18, 2010

    It's hard in HS MS when you're only there for one day. If the kids like you, they will tell the teacher to ask you back. So don't nag too hard. HS: Give the students who want to work a chance to do their assignments. Let the others listen to their ipods as long as they are quiet enough not to disturb the ones who are working. The teacher won't be surprised about who worked and who didn't. I often left a note on top of the finished assignments saying "All students understood that the assignment would be counted toward their grade. Some students chose to work, others chose not to work. "
     
  9. TeachingHistory

    TeachingHistory Companion

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    Nov 18, 2010

    Couple things I've noticed that help me. Don't let them move seats/work in partners/sit on the floor UNLESS you were left directions by the regular teacher. If the kids insist, saying that their teacher ALWAYS lets them, tell them ok, and that you'll be leaving a note for the teacher that they said that and they can work in partners. You'll be suprised how many will change their story. I've had that happen a couple times.

    Another thing that helps alot is starting class the second the bell rings. Usually as the bell is ringing I shut the door (how hard depends on how loud they are...;)), and begin talking in my "outside voice" with rapid fire directions for them to sit down, get something out, look at the board, whatever the class may call for. I'll repeat them a couple times if needed. I'm a girl, I'm small, I look very quiet and non-threatening, I'm young and look even younger. The way I start class is usually enough to catch them off guard and get them to listen.

    If they are supposed to be working silently, I jump on them the second they talk, whisper, get out of their seat. I don't usually have to do this too many times. If something funny happens (which usually happens at least once a class....) I let them laugh and get it out of their systems for about a minute and then get them back on task.

    During class, circulate constantly, redirecting and giving polite reminders. When you go to correct/redirect a student, walk up to them, and in a quiet, pleasant, non threatening voice "Dan, sit down and work on your worksheet please. Thank you." And then keep moving.

    If the regular teacher is super strict, just saying that you are leaving a note for the regular teacher is enough to get the kids to get their act together, even if its high school.

    One more thing, MS are a chatty bunch, but they CAN be quiet when necessary. I present being quiet as a positice choice. If all else fails I plant myself next to the worst offenders and talk to them so 1) they aren't pestering anyone else and 2) I can direct the conversation to what they are actually supposed to be doing.

    Now I've had a few classes that were crawling the walls (think f-bombing, pretending to chew tobacco, throwing things, jalapeno flavored sunflower seeds, and puking in the garbage can) and sometimes the crazyness is just out of your control.

    Remember.. each day you can start over. Thats the nice part of subbing.:) Good Luck!
     
  10. Subber

    Subber Companion

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    Nov 18, 2010

    What do you mean you're not doing a good job? The kids who do not do the work do not do it despite the many different ways us sub try to motivate them not because you're not a good sub. It's possible that those kids are do far behind that they don't want their friends know about that - though their friend know anyway - and so they don't do it.

    I have seen kids not doing ANY work with their regular teachers.
     
  11. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Nov 18, 2010

    One thing to do is to make sure students know you're writing a full report about who did their work, who had out Ipods, etc. and that their teacher will hold them accountable (pray that the teacher actually does).

    It would really help in those situations for students to know the teacher was actually going to hold them accountable for their work and behavior. Often, I don't think teachers do explicitly tell students what's expected when there is a sub, especially for upper-grades.

    Another thing you can do is try to make the assignment more palatable to students. If it's just a regular "read the book and answer the questions/do the worksheet" assignment, peruse through it when you arrive early and think of some ways to make the assignment more appealing.

    Can you allow partners to read and answer the questions together? I know some people disapprove of cooperative learning (and it can be distracting for some classes, so choose wisely), but it does often help students to have a little freedom. What you can do is say, "This pair is responsible for providing the answers to #1 and #2. This next pair is responsible for #3 and #4. And so on. Any pair not working or talking too much will be separated and have to work by themselves." Circulate around the room and take notes while you're doing that. Give them a time limit, say 15 minutes, to finish their section. At the end of time, everyone should read their section to the class and everyone should write down the answers (even if some pairs were goofing off, they will want to listen for the other pairs' answers). Tell them that, if they were smart, they would be writing down the answers the other pairs provide because they're getting "free" answers. If there is a key, you can "grade" the assignment by having the students check over the answers and write whatever they didn't already have down.

    Or, you can read the assignment as a class and go over answers together, asking them to provide the answers or evaluate other student's answers. Maybe you can divide the reading assignment and stage a debate with the class.


    Whatever you decide, get them seated and working on something as soon as they walk in. Don't give them time to think, "We have a substitute... let's get out our IPods." Direct their attention and let them know you mean business and you expect productivity for the day. You could possibly suggest, as some teachers do, that after they get finished with their assignment that they can do what they want (within reason).
     
  12. meeper22

    meeper22 Companion

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    Nov 19, 2010

    Thanks, I appreciate ALL the responses I got but I've really had a depressing day today.

    I was substituting for the same middle school yesterday and today. I subbed for two different teachers but the teacher I subbed for yesterday said that I must have not done a good job because I said her students were loud and talkative.

    I told her that I told them to do the assignment and I saw that they were doing it but she told me that I must have not been doing well if her students were loud because she says they are usually quiet.

    That threw me off. So, I tried to do better with the other class I was subbing for. I told them to do the assignment, it was for a grade, but most of them just didn't do it and didn't listen to a word I said.

    I walked around and told them to do the work. I had to yell just to get some students to sit down and be quiet but then, some of them laughed. They just didn't care and didn't respect me. I tried helping some students with the assignment who said it was difficult, they told me they didn't want it. I offered candy rewards, still wouldn't continue working on the assignment, not all, but a majority.

    I said I'd write them up. They didn't care. They just did whatever. Some did the assignment but a majority just stared at the books and talked to each other and they kept giving me excuses about being able to listen to music, working in groups, their ESE,and I don't know what to believe anymore.


    I get teachers telling me I did fine, I get some telling me to do better, I don't know what to believe anymore.

    I REALLY TRY TO FOLLOW THE LESSON PLANS TEACHERS LEAVE AND TRY A LOT OF STRATEGIES TO GET THEM TO WORK BUT THE STUDENTS JUST DON'T RESPECT ME AT ALL AND ACTUALLY LAUGH AT ME WHEN I'M SERIOUS.

    WHAT I HATE MORE OUT OF ALL OF IT IS WHEN TEACHERS TELL ME I DIDN'T DO A GOOD JOB AND I TRY MY BEST!!

    I don't know what to do anymore. I used to think I did well and now it's like I haven't at all.
     
  13. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Nov 19, 2010

    It seems very unfair that the teacher would tell you were not doing a good job without even offering suggestions.
    I would recommend that you first let the teacher know that you are truly doing your best and that you feel very bad that so far your best has not been good enough.
    I would then ask the teacher if he/she could offer suggestions on some methods he/she uses to instill a quiet and focused learning environment. Ask the teacher what he/she does when a student is not on task, and if he/she could recommend some consequences for the students who do not do well, as well as some rewards for those who do well.
    A good caring teacher would appreciate your desire to improve yourself (even if it is not your fault), and hopefully have some productive answers.
    If not, you might want to try speaking with some of this teacher's colleagues for suggestions.
    It might also be helpful to speak to the principal of the school for suggestions if you are not satisfied with responses from other teachers.

    Although I realize it is difficult sometimes to hold back, yelling rarely works, and usually makes things worse.
     
  14. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Nov 19, 2010

    I can't believe a teacher actually told you that you were doing a good job! How rude! You could have just have easily retorted, "Or maybe you didn't good job in training them how to behave with a substitute. Just a thought."

    I don't think it's ever a good idea to offer candy rewards. At all.

    Listen, some students are just incorrigible. If students don't care about doing their work, don't care about being written up and don't care about giving respect to teachers, then there is not much you can do as a substitute. The best you can do is crowd control (keep them all alive until the bell, and not too loud) and hope the teachers and administration fare better with them in the long-run. If you can, try to pinpoint one or two ringleaders and send them to the office. Nothing is wrong with sending a few troublemakers to the office. You'd be surprised how many noisy students would actually work reasonably well when no longer inspired by the antics of a couple of troublemakers. Get the ringleaders out and you may do better with the rest of the class.


    Also, you may want to try subbing elementary. Classroom management is important for all grade levels, but you usually won't have kids scoffing at teachers and outright refusing to do any work when they are really young.
     
  15. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Nov 19, 2010

    First off, the teacher was WAY out of line to say you must not have done a good job if the students were loud. HELLO? Students ALWAYS try to act up more when they have a sub, that's just par for the course.

    The two most effective strategies I found for controlling MS and HS students was:(1) learn their names as quickly as possible. Calling a student down by name has a much bigger impact than just saying "You there, sit down". I would start looking over the seating chart as soon as I handed out the assignment for the day and try learning names while they were starting to work. (2) Circulate around the room constantly. I walk around the room, in between desks, around tables, etc for almost the entire class period. When two students are talking back and forth instead of working, they will almost always stop as I approach and at least ACT like they are working while I walk by. Of course, I change my direction every few minutes so they can never start "timing" how long they have till I come around again. Just when they think I've gone by and am heading to the other side of the room, I will reverse my direction and come right back towards them.

    As one PP mentioned, when I catch students off task, I walk up to them and quietly "encourage" them to get back on task. I don't yell or scream, but I DO give them a "Don't give me any bullcrap" look when they start trying to make excuses.

    Ipods - I let HS students listen to them, AS LONG AS they are actually doing the assigned work and not spending the entire period looking for the next song. If I see kids spending more time browsing their playlists than working on the assignment, I give them a gentle reminder to focus on their work. If they still keep playing with the Ipod, I have no problem walking up to them and holding my hand out for it. When they look at me and say "WHAT?" I tell them "Give it to me." They usually resist and I say "You can either give it to me or put it up, but you can't listen to it anymore. You've lost that privilege." They will grumble, but will usually put it up instead of giving it up. If a student still resists, I WILL take the earplugs out of his/her ear and take the device from them. Even if they hang onto the player, I have the headphones, so they can't listen to it anymore. I've not had to follow through with this yet, but I would have no problem doing it if necessary.

    Students: "But Regular Teacher lets us do this all the time"
    My respons: "Well, Regular Teacher isn't here today...I am. So, today, you will be following MY rules." (this immediately eliminates any and all arguments about what Regular Teacher does or does not allow).

    Sending kids to the office - Sometimes it is necessary to (a) get the point across and (b) serve as an example to other would-be offenders. I had one MS class that was VERY difficult to control. Even the regular teachers dreaded this particular group. There were 4 boys in the class that fed off each others' actions and disrupted every class they were in. They started it in my class and one of them simply would NOT listen to anything I had to say. After giving 3 or 4 chances to correct his behavior on his own, I said "Just go on to the office since your obviously not going to cooperate today." That got the other 3 to quiet down and earned the 4th student a couple of days in ISS.

    Yesterday, I had to do something similar in my regular classroom. My last class of the day, two student were bickering with each other the second they walked through the door. One is a MAJOR drama queen and the other does his best to cause plenty of disruptions as well.

    They walked in the door and Drama Queen says "MR. CEREK, Naughty Boy is saying mean things about me."
    Naughty Boy responds "SHE said this and this and this about me."
    DQ "No I didn't"
    NB "Yes, you did too"
    DQ "You are such a LIAR!"
    Mr. Cerek "That's ENOUGH from both of you. I'll settle this situation right now." (picked up the phone and called the office. secretary then "pages" my room and says "Mr. Cerek? Can you send Drama Queen and Naughty Boy down to the office please?"
    Mr. Cerek "Yes ma'am. I can do that."

    DQ and NB look at me with big scared eyes. I look back at them and said "You heard her. Go on". I pointed at the door and they left. You could have heard a pin drop in the class after that. :)

    Finally - one of the BEST techniques I ever used on a particularly rowdy class was to start writing names on the board. There were several boys that just kept talking louder and louder as class went on. I tried to quiet them a few times, then I stopped saying anything and just started writing their names on the board. It took a minute for them to notice. As they did, they slowly stopped talking.

    When I finished, one of them asked "What does that mean if you wrote our name on the board?"
    "That means that Mr. Regular Teacher will be getting a detailed report of how rude and uncooperative each of you were during class today."
    "What is going to happen to those of us with our names on the board?"
    "Mr. Regular Teacher will decide that after he reads the report I am leaving regarding your behavior today."

    They didn't say another word for the rest of class.
     
  16. JaceOne

    JaceOne Rookie

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    Nov 19, 2010

    A few things I do when subbing were already mentioned by other members:

    - Use my "outside" voice inside the classroom since I'm young and looked quiet/passive.

    - Circulate the classroom while students are doing the assignment.

    - When I see that there is a group of students that seem to be socializing more than focusing on the assignment, I walk over to them and remind them to "multi-task, do your work and talk at the same time." Students usually take this a lot better than just telling them to be quiet and get to work.

    Some other things I do are:

    - Surprise the students half way through the period and check how far along each student has come thus far with the assignment. I write down how many questions they've answered or what number problem they have completed. I do not tell the students at the beginning of class, but half way through the period I announce that "in 5 minutes I will be checking your work." This is how you see whose been goofing around, they're usually the ones who look in complete shock and start scrambling around looking for paper and a pen.

    ** I'm sure I got this next one from a post on this board. **

    - If there is a student that is adamant about not doing the assignment, I ask the student to take out a sheet of paper and write the following statement:

    "I, [Student's full name], have chosen not to do today's assignment. As of [Current Time], I have not started on today's assignment. I understand that I will receive a ZERO / "F" for today."

    I, then, ask the student to sign/print his/her name and to date the statement. I let the student know that I will be leaving this in the regular teacher's box.

    After hearing what the student has to write in the statement (before writing the statement/signing/dating), the student usually pull a 180 and starts doing the work quietly for the duration of the period.

    Once the student feels like he/she has to take real responsibility for his/her actions, the student knows the sub's not messing around and today's not a free day.
     
  17. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Nov 20, 2010

    When I first started subbing, I asked if I could observe a teacher or two all day to just learn, take notes, asks tons of questions, etc. I didn't get paid of course, but the purpose was just to see how they do things. Ask your district if they can set you up w/ something like that. Let them know that you're requesting to do this to truly be the best sibstitute you can be. They shouldn't say NO to something like that.
     
  18. Subber

    Subber Companion

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    Nov 21, 2010

    Yeah right.

    Don't.

    These are signs that their teachers don't hold them accountable.
    You DID well. Trust me on that. MS kids are harder than HS kids to manage.
     
  19. Subber

    Subber Companion

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    Nov 21, 2010

    Be aware though that this won't work with HS kids.
     
  20. waffles

    waffles Companion

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    Nov 22, 2010

    Check the student handbook. Most of them say that any sort of electronic device isn't allowed to be used during school.

    If it's there, then take the thing and tell them you'll be bringing it to the office when you leave. If they refuse to give it to you then write them up for not doing the work and not doing what they were told to do. Then actually do it. No second chances. No whining about how they need it to call their mom later. It's tough noogies for them.
     
  21. The Substitute

    The Substitute Rookie

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    Nov 22, 2010

    There have been some good bits of advice offered in this thread. I’ll add a bit of advice myself.

    First - understand that when your words and your actions are out of synch, students will look to your actions every single time. If you tell the students that you expect them to read silently, but then let them talk, what you are really telling them is that you’d like it if they wouldn’t talk, but that really it’s a choice.

    With some classes this can very quickly get out of hand - when students realize that a teacher is not willing to back up their verbal expectations they can run right over you. So if you are asking for something then you’ve got to be prepared to get it. This aspect of classroom management is a lot like poker – students are always willing to see if you are bluffing so never bluff. Don’t set out expectations that you are not willing to follow through on, and always follow through on any expectations that you’ve set out.

    Having said that, the subtle ways of following through tend to be the most effective. I like to avoid things like threats of going to the office, for several reasons.

    First, it’s an overt power struggle, and power struggles are a dangerous game where the teacher often comes out the loser, especially when you are a visiting teacher and don’t know the individual student well.

    2nd, big escalations like kicking people out of class tend to take away a lot of your leverage, you are placing yourself and the student in an ‘all or nothing situation’ and lose several opportunities to get compliance if you go directly to the heavy ordinance.

    Some subtle ways to enforce your expectations (like working quietly) are:

    Set the tone immediately when they enter the room. Don’t wait until 2nd bell. Greet each student at the door with a warm but firm voice and direct eye contact and then give them instructions for something that will get them in their seat immediately and keep them busy. It is far easier to keep the room working smoothly then to let it get rambunctious or chatty and then to have to try and bring it back.

    Use eye contact and body proximity – constantly circulate and don’t get caught chained to the blackboard. Mobility/proximity is one of the cheapest, most effective and least visible management strategies you can use. When a group is talking, move your gaze over there. If they keep talking move your body over there. If an individual or group keeps talking, use a short verbal request, if that fails, move to a choice with a consequence.

    If I get to choices and consequences then I’m moving from invisible to visible management, and I want to be careful to keep my escalation low and and non-confrontational in order to avoid potential power struggles.

    A choice to keep working quietly can be as simple as letting the class know that you will be recommending a participation mark to their teacher and that so long as you do not have to speak to a student more than once about being on task they will keep their full participation marks, but if you have to speak with them a second time they will lose their participation mark.

    Most students will fall in line with this. If you have a truly hard case who tests you even here, the next choice can be to work quietly or have the work collected on the spot (they can’t do it for homework and will be marked solely on what they have done in class).

    If each choice is offered with a calm voice and body language that is firm but relaxed, you’ll rarely get students who are still willing to stay off task. In the rare case where a student still decides to keep talking and not get his or her work done, you are then in the position where you can justifiably make your next choice one where the student decides if they are going to stay in class or head down to the office. If a student chooses the office here and you have been fair and measured, moving gradually from the informal to formal management techniques then you are likely dealing with a pretty tough customer and odds are that they are no stranger to the principal’s office and their presence their will be unlikely to reflect poorly on you.
     
  22. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Nov 23, 2010

    These are two fine strategies.

    1) Learn names.
    2) Talk in a calm, firm way--that basically shows that you know what you are doing (control), even if you don't

    One more:
    3) Start class off in a quiet way. You can either do this before they enter (I stop students who come barreling in, hooting and hollering, and tell them to go out, and try it again.) Or, you can wait and get their attention when the tardy bell rings.

    Usually the respectful kids in the room will shush down the others. (and if they start shushing forcefully, tell them not to do it that way)... and you just wait... it could take a minute, it could take three minutes... just stand there, and expect them to quiet down. Once they have, you can address them (and address the time you spent standing there, waiting for them to quiet, and how that measures to your expectations).

    GL :thumb:
     
  23. JaceOne

    JaceOne Rookie

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    Nov 28, 2010

    It actually does. I have only subbed at the HS level. Although, I will admit that a few students still don't really care about doing work. But this written statement is just about the student accepting responsibility for his/her work ethic in-class that day. It's up to the regular teacher whether or not the student will be allowed to make up the work. I just collect the written statement and leave it with the daily note/report.
     

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