Hello everyone, I am a new substitute teacher in Tennessee! However, immediately, I have seemed to realize that the modern classroom works a bit differently than it did even less than a decade ago. I am under 30 years old and the entire school policy and teaching method of the 2000's is still fresh on my mind. Back just a number of years ago, teachers had strict policies in the classrooms. These were not designed to "be mean" to students, or cause stress - they were simply rules that allowed the teacher to have silence during roll call, ensure that no unsafe school guests were able to open the class door (teacher opened it only), and that the class had an overall volume level where announcements, phone calls, fire drills, teacher speeches, lesson plans, and rule announcements could always be heard the first time - this also worked to help the teacher always hear students if they had questions. Attention and respect in the classroom was achieved by rules such as "if you aren't in the seat when the bell rings, you're tardy", or "you have to use the restroom before the bell rings", or "you must raise your hand before getting out of your seat for any reason." (this also applied to talking during times that the teacher announced "silent class" if the class became too rowdy.) This applied to grades K-12, and I believe I grew up in an excellent structure because of these simple rules. However, if I am truly gauging today's classroom correctly, it seems that students are allowed to eat food in class if they voice they have a medical issue, that they are allowed to stay out of their seat if they have a medical issue, that they are allowed to go to the restroom any and multiple times if they have a medical issue, and the list goes on until every student seems to have an individual set of rules that seem to create classroom accidents and behavior that becomes extreme. Every medical condition should be accomodated, but the problem has been that specific lists of students with these needs have not always been present, and even so, there are times where a silent, seated, clean class is mandatory - if we are not allowed to require a class to be seated, silent, and clean all at one time (especially during times we feel there is extreme chaos and the class needs to have a settle down period), how can we prevent fights, unsafe situations, and most importantly, how can we ensure students are focused and learning? Since I am new, I try my best to accomodate all students' needs, and use extremely polite requests if it is extremely important for silence and seat-taking times (roll call), however, the behavior and "individual needs" seem to be extreme to the point that I am not able to gain a system in the classroom that helps to prevent unsafe situations. As of right now, I'm actually unsure if these "medical needs" are truly today's classroom policies, or if, by bizarre chance, an extremely large number of students have been pulling my leg! I realize (and am glad!) that this is not 1950 where a teacher can spank a student if they so much as look in the wrong direction - I am a BIG proponent of safety, kindness, a fun environment, and laughter - but as a substitute teacher, the truth is that I can't do my job correctly if every student has the right to eat ice cream cones, to dance and yell around class, to roam the halls, and are not allowed to be spoken to in a direct manner. At this point, I am truly wondering if today's classroom has evolved into a "free for all" when it comes to behavior that has a "medical association" or "equality association", or if rules, behavior systems, and classroom codes are still as strict as they were in the early 2000's - a time where if a student voiced that a medical condition allowed them to speak in uncontrollable volumes, partake in extreme amounts of food in class, or make several trips to the restroom, that they were sent to the nurse's office for those specific situations, or were taught in special needs classrooms, and a time where teacher's had a balanced level of authority in the classroom to both allow positive atmospheres and safe environments. With all of this, I am NOT talking about special needs classes. Even beyond that, I am wondering if today's classroom has changed to a point where a teacher can no longer directly tell a class that they need to be silent, all take seats, and work quietly. Virtually every classroom I have substituted in seems truly beyond shocked to hear a teacher announce that there are rules that must be followed by everyone, that everyone must have a seat, that everyone must be quiet during specific times. And though there are troublemakers in every classroom, even the best of students truly seem shocked to hear rules such as "we need to all stay in our seats and raise our hands" and rules that, to me, seem truly respectful and modern. The students even seem to believe that that over half of the student class can take random trips to the restroom because of current rights laws or "emergency situations", and these students seem to boast this openly and in an obviously sassy, mocking tone. I simply do need some specific help if any teachers on this forum can tell me EXACTLY what the modern classroom is expected to behave as. Either the modern classroom has become a complete free-for-all in the name of medical laws, rights laws, and mannerism laws, or I must be the biggest fool in the school system. I have tried my best not to raise my voice to an overall classroom because I again am a new substitute and I'm not %100 sure of each little law that may come across in the classroom (I can't say that our local substitute hiring process and training is "detailed", to put it extremely kindly - County School System rules and documents have been my best resource), but when I have had to raise my voice, such as in times where student behavior is getting extreme to the point of fights and injury potentially breaking out between them, I have had to say, in loud tones "We need to have a seat and become silent, now. If we talk again during our time of silence, I will be writing down names for the teacher or calling an administrator." However, truth be told, it often seems like students are completely shocked to hear direct statements - it seems as though it's a normal occurance for each classroom to be a daily party. It seems as though that throwing paper around class, wrestling around, yelling, and "I'm the boss because a teacher can't tell me what to do" is normal behavior among students. Again, either that, or the students have been pulling my leg. I am truly very big on psychology and I do know when a student is trying to pull a leg, but these students seem absolutely shell-shocked to hear actual commands. Truly. Again, I do need an absolute gauge as to what level of control I can utilize in a classroom, and if situations arise, if I should simply send students to the nurse, office, alternative classroom, or other area to ensure that either the student has a chance to take care of medical needs, or otherwise, get in trouble by those professionals for fooling the substitute. Or, if I feel it is, without any percentage of a doubt, a "prank", then if I can give the command "not right now" if a student requests to eat ice cream, run around the class, or go to the bathroom multiple times. Or, if I feel a student is being sincere but that a teacher has not left detailed notes, if I should simply say "We need to go to the nurse's office for that activity." The last thing I simply want is for a student to skip class, a predator to be able to come into the class, for a fight to happen, for a student to get injured in class, for a "eat food/bathroom" excuse to spread like a wildfire, misplacing students, inaccurate roll calls, and other situations. In order to prevent all of that, as a substitute teacher who has no knowledge or history with any student, I do need control in the class - EQUAL control. If anyone can give me any pointers of what I can and cannot say or do, or if I am being way too lenient as it is (if I do sound like I am being completely fooled by my students, please say!), or if the classroom has become what some would call a complete circus, all in the name of rights, laws, and priveledges, please warn me too! Thank you so much! P.S. You may think I'm talking about K-5 with this thread... actually, I'm mainly talking about 6th-8th with this. I expect looser behavior with K-5: it's easier to maintain a class when you can build a history over the day with a single set of 15 students. But when you have a class of 6th-8th grade students who you only see for an hour, and the overall evaluation is that the behavior seems relative to what I've experienced in Kindergarden classes (or actually much more chaotic), it seems uncontrollable. I do realize that, especially late in the year, that teachers become lax on rules in the class, that the motto of "Once everyone gets the system, the rules loosen a bit near the end of the year.", but on a Substitute Day, I believe the students should know or expect the rules to be enforced for safety reasons. In a classroom, it's not just about education, just about equality, or just about safety. It's about all three, and shouldn't it be? I wanted to approach this job to bring a fun air to the classroom - I'm all for allowing students to "have a little fun" on a Sub day - but the behavior in the classes has been so downright extreme, choatic, and dangerous that I've had to adopt an extremely strong voice and stern rule system just to ensure that students do not fight or run out of the class! I'd have expected the students to be rather behaved simply because of the mindset that they do not know if a sub will be strict or fun! When I was in school, students would sit as quiet as a mouse until they figured out wether a sub will be nice or mean! Today's behavior seems as though students are told in advance that Subs, or teachers in general, have no power in the classroom! I hate to go on and on, but well, as it is, if I have to be the "mean teacher" just to prevent classroom injuries, if students in today's world just do not have any structure in the official teacher's daily classroom, then this isn't a career that I would enjoy. Believe it or not, I took this position because I care about students, because I want to put smiles on the faces of students who have bad home lives or are bullied in school (as I applied to both as a kid), and I wanted to create a happy classroom. But it seems that in today's times, that a class seems more like a "gang" and I simply don't know if I have the legal rights to control it. I simply don't know. I've even encountered groups of 10+ students who will say things such as "if you don't let us do this, we'll all say you were doing this, or this, or that." It doesn't help that during a single hour, I don't have enough time to write a full 10-page thesis on every single student who says a disrespectful word, especially when I do not know their names in advance, in the name of documentation. Again, I try to be pretty loose. But the situation seems extreme in each and every classroom, and I feel strongly, without a doubt, that either my administration has given me nowhere near enough instruction about discipline or behavior (or simply allowing the lack of it) or that it may not be a career I can enjoy. Again, please, please help! One more note, is that by large, it seems that classes in today's year operate with a "Absolutely no punishment, only reward." system where even middle school or high school classes operate using smiley face charts, behavior points, stickers, individual behavior assesments, ect ect, and being a substitute who is not long-term (only seeing each period once), I find it impossible to use these techniques as I am not on a name-by-name basis with the students or their teachers' systems. During the chaos of merely trying to avoid classroom injury and situations, I cannot stop by each student's desk and reward them with a personal rating every 5 minutes. That is simply something a teacher may build over months of work. Being a substitute, a class has to be controlled at large, with a focus on safety and structure. If it is absolutely against the law to tell a student or class that they have to remain seated and silent, or against policy to say phrases such as "if we don't take our seats, we're leaving names for the teacher/calling an administrator", then I'm unsure of how I'll be able to do my job! Only 10 years ago, classes were operated strictly. All classes. No matter what. There were policies in place that prevented physical touching, bullying or discrimination by the teacher, class skipping, and other serious claims, but beyond that, students were given things such as detention, write-ups, isolation time in the back of the class, extra homework, ect ect, things that students did not want. Even those policies would be generally difficult for a substitute, and many substitutes in my day sat on cell phones all day long. And even then, most students were behaved because the structures were already in place by a teacher. But, with myself being a truly professional minded substitute teacher who wants to educate, direct, and guide a class into safety and structure for the day, I cannot seem to gain control of a middle or high school class using "kindergarten talk" and reward systems. Truth be told, it's been an immense struggle just to prevent students from constantly, every single minute, throwing items, running from the class, getting into physical fights with each other, or preventing students from rushing to the desk to ask for bathroom passes 10 at a time. With incidents on this large a scale, I know for sure that this behavior is spilling over from the normal class - a structured class behaves at the beginning of the class, at least. A structured class behaves first then gets loose near the end. A class with no daily structure has students fighting before the class begins! My truly big rules are "remain seated", "use inside voices", "raise your hand if you need to get out of your seat", and "no bathroom games", and "absolute silence during roll call". That's really my top 5. If students follow that guide, they do not have the opportunity to punch, kick, yell, skip class, throw things, all that. Seats are great! Indoor voices are great! I do not believe I am being "discriminatory" or "insensitive" if I require that of my class for the day, but if classroom policy prevents me from requiring those rules, please, please let me know!