New sub teacher needs advice.

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by bbrandy2002, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. bbrandy2002

    bbrandy2002 Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2009

    This is my first year sub teaching, today made the 3rd time I've done it. The first 2 times was an elem.school, today was for middle school. Today, was by far the worst day yet, as I was working with 7th graders who came in to each class deciding they were going to do whatever they wanted to. I followed the lesson plans, but I could not get thier attention, nor would they just talk at an acceptable level. I dealt with the "I need to go to the office, the bathroom, the locker, the nurse, the library" every 2 or 3 minutes. All 6 classes were out of control, and it got around to other students that I let them text in class, which I did not, so now I'm afraid that rumor is going to get back to the teacher or principal. I'm just a nervous wreck, even after being out for 2 1/2 hrs. What is your advice for dealing with kids this age? I tried to remain calm, but by the end of the day, they physically and emotionally got to me. I just feel alone without any guidance.:( Any tips. Thanks
     
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  3. suniloneal34

    suniloneal34 Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2009

    I am in the same situation..I have subbed three times now. First two days were easy (high school, no big surprises) and the third day was a 4th grade class. The first class I had was not bad..only 2 students that really ran around/acted up. Then I switched classes and it seemed I could not get control AT ALL of the classroom. It was an odd feeling to look around and see students just running around, writing on the board, chasing each other, not doing what you tell them to do.

    I took a few deep breaths and decided that it is only intimidating because I let it be. I walked up the front of the room...flicked the lights a few times and even that didn't do as much as I hoped.

    All in all...the day was a tough one but a lot of the students really liked me and did work on things. I took a positive view of that and wrote a note to the regular teacher about those students. I think it is important to establish rapport with the students immediately (based on my 3 days). I am a very live and let live type person and expect people to do what they should. It made me realize in teaching there is a lot of management, as opposed to teaching. I didn't realize how "bored" kids get with what they are doing and couldn't come up on the fly ways to keep them doing something productive.

    I think the biggest thing is to keep perspective and realize it is unlikely you are going to change anyone's behavior in a day. I focused on helping the students that actually wanted to do the work and at one point reminded the students that I would have to leave a note for their regular teacher and didn't want to specifically name anyone. I said if you are finished with what we are working on feel free to work on something else, or do something else quietly as long as you remain in your seats.

    Sometimes there is not much you can do but I wouldn't worry about what happened over the course of 1 day to affect you too much. If anything the teacher will find out about how the day went from one/more of the students and that is where it will end.

    Simply put: Keep it in perspective. Subbing is more managing than teaching for most assignments and you can only manage people willing to listen. If students aren't listening I try and help students 1 on 1 as at least the students that want to learn will gladly take your help. I had 30 students...20 of them didn't want to learn math but 10 did. I wrote problems on the board and had those 10 work them out and teach other how to do them. They loved it and did it willingly. The other 20 I'd walk over while the students were working and remind them they are not letting other people do work, and if they wanted to do something quietly in their seats that would be okay. If they continue to be disruptive I'd have to mention their behavior to their regular teacher.
     
  4. bbrandy2002

    bbrandy2002 Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2009

    Thanks for your reply. I'm trying to remember that this is all a learning experience for me, and to just learn from my mistakes(I made a lot of them today), but now that it is over I can sit here and think about how I should do things differently the next time. I hope by learning from my mistakes and having now experienced Middle school, I have a better idea of how to get control of the class before it gets control of me.
     
  5. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Sep 3, 2009

  6. GlendaLL

    GlendaLL Aficionado

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    Sep 3, 2009

    bbrandy - To be honest with you, I just don't return to schools (or to particular teacher's classrooms) if I have too much trouble. I refuse to deal with that kind of behavior.

    All of the schools where I sub use Aesop. So, if I see a job where I don't want to go, I decline the job and wait for something suitable for me.
     
  7. amaryllis

    amaryllis Rookie

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    Sep 4, 2009

    In the sub training course that I took, offered by our county, they offered some tips and tricks for an out of control class.

    One that might work with kids this age would be to write a big list on the board and divide it in two, separating kids who are acting unacceptably and those who are acting acceptably. I'd say OUTRIGHT that their grades WILL be affected by their behavior and that you communicate with their teacher daily. Scare them into good behavior if need be. Hand out a pop quiz or have them write an essay and say it's part of their final grade for the class.

    In the letter you leave for the teacher, I'd list the ones who were good and bad, and also take the opportunity to explain you'd heard some rumor about texting in class that was not accurate, with an FYI. Also, I'd mention that you'd found the class was in a "bad mood" and that you'd had to work your magic with them by using the primary teacher's authority over their grades, which improved matters. Then the teacher will feel better and you won't get outted.

    I think walking around a class a LOT helps. Last year was the only time I've subbed so far, but it was totally unexpected. I was student observing a class and the teacher got sick so "we" had a sub. Honestly, she didn't do a thing all day except gossip, complain, and I got very uncomfortable with the level of chaos in the room after a period or two. I finally took matters into my own hands, walking CONSTANTLY around the room, assigning all manner of busy work, breaking up groups of cooperative kids with uncooperative kids into projects, turning out the lights to give several impromptu (and largely unrelated, whatever) lectures. We had no class plan, and it was my second day of observing. I was stern and never cracked a smile, which was pretty easy really since I was not amused. When kids were texting, I would hold out my hand without a word, take their phones and place them on the desk. When they were on facebook, I walked over without a word and shut off the computer. The other kids got it very quickly.

    The discipline bugged me and I can't wait to REALLY teach.

    Hope this is of some small help!
     
  8. bbrandy2002

    bbrandy2002 Rookie

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    Sep 4, 2009

    Thank you all for your kind replies. I subbed for the same school today, but I had 6th graders. It was a complete opposite of yesterday, they talked but at a normal level, I was able to get them to quiet down and do some work. I just couldn't believe the difference 1 grade level made in these kids. It did however let me know that I wasn't doing something wrong; kids are just different and if they are going to act up they are just going to act up regardless. I feel a weight lifted off of me today, and I thanked each class today for being such wornderful students for me and left the teacher great remarks on them.
     
  9. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Sep 4, 2009

    I wouldn't EVER threaten a student's grades... you as a sub have no right to change their grades, and most students know it. Beyond that, it's a hollow threat, so what happens when the threat isn't followed through on? Do you honestly expect the teacher to follow through with that? As a teacher, I wouldn't!

    I have to say though, that my most successful day of subbing was at a rural school... it was a class of fourth graders. I was told there were a couple minor problems (can't remember the exact wording the principal gave me, but he didn't make it out to be a big deal)... I just came in extra early, knew the lesson plans, didn't EVER sit at my desk. I came out of that day feeling like things went pretty well. I ended up teaching at that school the following year as a behaviour interventionist, and BOY did I find out that class was the class from Hell!

    The key to that day was just always being there, never backing off and giving them a chance to start anything (keep in mind that I wasn't even coming into this with the idea that these were bad kids, I assumed that it was a typical fourth grade class, perhaps even better than an average one, since they weren't from the city)... I had them constantly busy because I had arrived nice and early in order to review the plans left for me. I was able to work well with this class and I had fun doing it!

    That's not to say that I'm a super substitute or anything... far from it! We all have our good and bad days, but from my experience, those things that I listed are the things that differentiate the good days from the bad.
     
  10. Mr.Teacher

    Mr.Teacher New Member

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    Jan 20, 2010

    I realize this thread is quite old, but ANY new sub can use a little advice. I am by no means a very experienced sub, but based on the experience that I do have, I can say that middle school is TOUGH. One day when I was subbing middle school, the regular teacher came in near the end of that day and I was terrified that she would make a comment about how loud the kids were. She just said, "I love my kids, but they're chatty!" Phew!

    I mostly stick to elementary and I find that the best way to keep control of a classroom is to IMMEDIATELY put your foot down and let them know who is in charge. Now, I'm not sure if it helps that I am a man (by this I just mean that most elementary kids are not USED to men teachers, and it may or may not be easier to keep control of the classroom as a man), but if you are stern straight away, you generally have less of a problem. Sometimes, if you have an aide or assistant in the room, it can make you nervous to speak up and be a little stern with the class, but I find that if you don't speak up and the kids get rowdy, the assistant will speak up for you. Don't be afraid to keep the kids in line, and I am sure that assistants wouldn't think anything of you being stern with and keeping control of the class. Either way, the chances of subbing the same class again aren't terribly high. The day that I was the toughest on the kids was probably the easiest sub day, and the kids ended up liking me.

    Also, I find that the tactics that work with the elementary grades (do you want to come sit by me? can you do it quietly?) are just as useful when used with middle school aged children. Kind of funny, when you think about it. I have found that these tactics work BETTER with middle school, and that the younger kids can actually behave better than middle school kids.

    If you are subbing elementary and are nervous about being "the mean sub" to the students, bring a bag of dollar jelly beans from Walmart and everything will be forgiven.
     
  11. subinmichigan

    subinmichigan New Member

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    Jan 20, 2010

    If there is a tried-and-true method for dealing with 7th or 9th graders, I'd really like to learn it!
    If the teacher has actually planned for you to TEACH, as opposed to leaving tedious busy work, you might have a chance to get thru the day with your self-esteem and self-control intact. If not, you could try some of the "time fillers" most of us carry along. My personal favorites are the Rebus puzzles and palindromes I download from the niehs/nih.gov kids pages.
     
  12. azure

    azure Companion

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    Jan 20, 2010

    I've subbed for 8 years, and it didn't take me long to realize you have to be very tough at first. If you're nice, they'll walk all over you. I lay down the law and if that doesn't work, I write a referral or two for the worst ones. That usually makes the rest of them realize I'm not kidding, and they fall into place. I have a reputation for being mean, but I've also had kids tell me I'm their favorite sub. You have to grow a thick skin because the bad kids will say things like, "I hate that sub." I don't care because the teachers love me and request me and they know I follow their plans.
     
  13. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    Jan 26, 2010

    I also say no the first time a child asks to go to the bathroom or nurse. The second time I let them go (or I let them go if doing so means they are missing something fun like recess). IF I don't do that I'll have 20 who need the bathroom and 15 who absolutely must see the nurse
     
  14. dragonfly05

    dragonfly05 Companion

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    Jan 27, 2010

    I agree with what others have said about putting your foot down immediately. The kids need to know that you are the boss and that you will follow through with consequences for disruptive behavior. All it takes is one time for you to give an empty threat, and the kids will be walking all over you for the rest of the day.
     
  15. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    As a sub I wouldnt reccommend denying a child the nurse. One of the schools I sub in specifically say if a child asks to go to the nurse, let them. As a teacher you are not a doctor and you should not make the call that the child is fine....unless you want to get sued.
     
  16. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    In the schools I sub in, there isn't a nurse there at all times. I'm not sure how often they get a nurse, but I know at least two schools over 20 minutes apart share the same nurse. And twice she had to leave during school hours to drive me home.

    I really don't know if the secretaries are allowed to dispense tylenol, cough drops and the like. I know there was no nurse when I subbed for the secretary and I saw no indication that she could give out anything to the students who were ill
     
  17. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Jan 27, 2010

    Some days you just can't do much. Keep them safe, under control and feel okay if you managed to get out alive. Once in awhile it just happens.

    I usually do the foot down thing, but once in awhile, you just have to suck up your pride, joke around with them a little and get out without stressing yourself out. One day with a sub and not finished plans will not kill them or the teacher's curriculum. It is not worth the stress.
     
  18. dragonfly05

    dragonfly05 Companion

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    Jan 28, 2010

    I agree with this 100%!!
     
  19. myownwoman

    myownwoman Habitué

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    Jan 28, 2010

    Good advice people, thanks!
     

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