Read the riot act to HS seniors?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by JackTrader, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 19, 2010

    I just had a rough class of high school seniors - government/civics class - who were totally unmotivated - it's that time of year - spring semester. As per the sub instructions, I distributed some vocab words and an in-class worksheet for them to do. Some, however, did not want to do that, and worked on classwork for other classes. I had to redirect several of them to do the work for this class; some were cheeky enough to tell me excuses such as "Hey, I have an exam in that subject, and I can do that for homework", or "I'm not bothering anybody, why are you busting my butt on this?" It got to the point where I had to stare down one particular student to start work on the classwork, and when I caught him doing his English homework again, I had a confrontation with him - essentially told him he had an alternative of doing the work that was assigned, or to "take a hike" (leave the room) if he felt that he couldn't comply. It got to the point where he felt he had to stand his ground (and lose face in front of his classmates) and he was very mouthy with me, said as a sub, I didn't have the authority to order him out of the classroom (wrong, wrong, wrong - I could have told him the California Ed Code does empower me to do so, and the last student who thought I was "only a sub" earned a referral and suspension). I was about to call for the school office to escort him out of the classroom when fortunately, the campus security guy came by, and hustled him out (to cool him off - it didn't come to the student in question getting sent to the AP and triggering the referral procedure).

    I have this class again on Monday. I have a question - should I address this class about my expectations for their behavior in class that I expect them to be on task, and give them a heads up that I will not hesitate to address any defiance of my instructions with appropriate measures)? Or would something like that backfire?
     
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  3. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Mar 19, 2010

    I think you do have to stand your ground. I would let them know our day can go one of 2 ways. But I would also let them know I prefer it to go well. You have to ride a fine line between not letting them run over you and not making them hate you. If they HATE you, they will make your day hell - and it doesn't matter the consequence. So while letting them know how things will go you have to try to relate to them. Also try to remember yourself at 17, 18.
     
  4. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 19, 2010

    Thanks for the advice. Remembering myself at 17-18 probably would not help me now, because I was one of those goody-two-shoes who never defied a teacher at that age.
     
  5. EZLN1

    EZLN1 Companion

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    Mar 20, 2010

    I might be in the minority, but I wouldn't have gone as far as you did. You're there for an extremely limited amount of time, and for me, it's not worth it to ride students to do the work like you did. Kids have options...some will choose to do the work, and others wont.
    I'd take a student doing work, period, than running the risk of having that student turn on you and it leading to a showdown where both you and student are trying to save face in front of others. I'm also of the opinion that the less of a "problem" your class is when you sub (i.e. not having to call security, kick students out, referrals, etc), the better. I want to come in, do my job, and leave. The last thing I want to do is have to explain myself to the principal.

    Just thinking about myself in high school, I would have laughed at your threat. I was never even a overly disruptive student in high school, but surprisingly enough, I got kicked out a few times by subs who I felt were trying to impose their rules on me, and as one student said to you, "busting my butt".
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 20, 2010

    I'm not a sub, so take this for what it's worth.

    But I agree with EZLN1.

    It's never a good idea to box a kid into a corner; he's going to come out swinging every single time.

    And, big picture: if he's choosing to do work, even if it's for another class, then I think the odds are that the would do your assignment over the weekend. In fact, you quoted him as saying he would do it as homework. So I think the work still would have gotten done.

    I have never ever thrown a kid out of class-- it seems to me that you're making YOUR problem into a much bigger problem by having an angry kid wandering the building-- and that kid is supposed to be in your class. And I most certainly wouldn't do it over the fact that the kid was doing English instead of math.

    Actions have consequences. If the classroom teacher has any brains at all, the kids who don't have the assignment done on Tuesday will face some consequences. So the kids will know that the work still needs to get done.

    But I think you made too much out of a minor thing on Friday.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Mar 20, 2010

    I have to agree that you may be giving yourself more problems by barking orders at them. You hit the nail on the head when you talked about the students having to behave a certain way so they wouldn't lose face in front of their peers. That is a battle not worth fighting. Allowing the students to do work that may not be in your subject allows them to be learning and saving face at the same time.
     
  8. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Mar 20, 2010

    I'm with the other teachers on this one. I would not have drawn a line in the sand like this with the kid. It's really not your concern whether or not this kid does his assignment. That's up to his teacher to penalize as he/she sees necessary.
     
  9. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 20, 2010

    thanks for all of your feedback. So it seems that there are lower expectations of supervision possible for a sub vs. a regular teacher? I don't know...maybe I was trying too hard?

    So I guess the best thing on Monday is to act like nothing happened and let them be, observe who is working and who is not? The assignment is to watch "All the President's Men", with a set of questions that they have to take notes on. I'd think that some are going to be not taking notes or talking during the movie...so should I redirect anyone who isn't paying attention?

    Where exactly do you draw the line as a sub?

    It's gotten to the point where I'm questioning my confidence in what I need to do...mind you this is in the context of my horrendous ST experience detailed on other threads. I am thinking that I will not take a sub assignment with 2nd semester HS seniors again...
     
  10. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Mar 20, 2010

    I'm not sure it's about "lower expectations" as much as it's about different ways of handling the situation. There are times that I have kids working on things they aren't supposed to be doing, but I don't get in their faces and send them to the office. I have a relationship with them, and I work through the issue to get them to do what I want them to do.
     
  11. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Mar 20, 2010

    for behavior I don't believe you should let them do whatever they want. I would not have made as big of a deal about it - resulting in the kid leaving, but if you show your the boss you can be more lenient. If a student was doing work from another class I would have quietly motioned for the student and quietly told them to put it away. You don't have to say it where other kid hear - then you are asking for the kids to save face. You can do it respectfully.

    I teach young kids and babysit older ones in the mornings before school. You have to develop report with them (yes it can be done without a lot of time) and nicely ask them. You can let the kids know you are boss and not be a b*****
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 20, 2010

    I don't think I would act as though nothing had happened... they KNOW that you know that's not the case.

    I think I would be honest. I would say something along the lines of this:
    "I've been thinking about our class last Friday, and I'm not entirely thrilled with the way I reacted. So I'll tell you what: you NEED to watch this movie. But if you choose to do some other work quietly as you watch, I can live with that. But it DOES need to be quiet, since your teacher is holding you responsible for the information in this movie. "

    I think the Watergate era was one of the most amazing eras in our history. I would start by telling them about the Saturday night massacre (I don't remember how or whether the movie deals with that; it's been years since I watched it.) I would tell them how the Watergate burglers were caught thanks to some tape they had put over a door at the Watergate to keep the door from locking. And I would talk a bit about Deep Throat, and about how his identity was only confirmed a few years ago upon his death.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/31/AR2005053100655.html
     
  13. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Mar 20, 2010

    If they refuse to do the work that is fine. They will get a zero. Just make sure you right on your sub note, that Johnny refused to complete the worksheet. I always make sure that all subwork is collected for a grade (well most things in my class are).
     
  14. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 21, 2010

    Alice,

    Thanks for the advice. Would going back to Horror Friday a mea culpa in a sense, and would it undermine my authority from the start? Or would it give them a "reset"? One of my principles is that each day is a new day - we start anew. Also, how would the regular teacher view this turnaround when I put it in my report to her?

    I like the preface to "All the President's Men" idea - it plays to my strengths in terms of knowledge content...
     
  15. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 21, 2010

    Good idea about collecting all work during a sub, but this is not the case here, as the teacher is out for multiple days...
     
  16. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Mar 21, 2010

    I think that a simple solution would have been for you, or preferably their regular teacher, to make the assignment due at the end of class with the clear expectation that it would not accepted at any later point in time.
     
  17. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 21, 2010

    thank you all for your feedback.

    I spoke with one of my past program instructors, and he had a very different view of the situation. He felt that the student was clearly defiant and therefore subject to disciplanary action, as per the State of California educational code.

    He suggested that I speak with the AP at the school site to determine to the extent that they would back me up in case the student in question decided to challenge my authority and demonstrate defiance, and suggested if they do not back up or support substitutes to the extent necessary to maintain order, I should consider not substituting there anymore.
     
  18. EZLN1

    EZLN1 Companion

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    Mar 21, 2010

    That's just overdoing it, IMO. There is a difference between being a sub and a full time teacher. If you're a full time teacher, you obviously do not want students doing other work while you are teaching. But when subbing, the truth and reality is that you should be glad that students are doing work, period, instead of roaming the halls, walking around class, and just flat out being disruptive. Let's assume he acts the same way, and you do call the office...what's the worst that is going to happen? 1 day suspension? call to parents/guardians? detention? For a senior who probably is coasting to graduation, this isn't exactly as big of a consequence as you think it is.

    And playing movies as a sub is a coin toss, because what you or other adults find interesting, might be quite boring to students. And if the lesson plan is solely consistent of playing the movie and it is not a hit with the students, you will have a LONG day. Definitely hype up the movie and provide any background info to sell the movie to students
     
  19. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 22, 2010

    Thank you for your input. I think I will still go in and talk with the AP to see what is realistic in terms of the student population group and what their expectations are, taking into account your comments I may turn it around and ask the AP, "What would you do if you were in my position?"
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 22, 2010


    With all due respect (and I mean that!) I would imagine it's been quite some time since he walked in your shoes.

    " The State of California educational code" means squat to an 18 year old who is getting in trouble from a stranger because he's doing his English assignment for next period.

    What you want is a solution that will get the kids to do the work without giving you a migraine or leaving the classroom teacher a huge mess to clean up tomorrow.

    I agree: speak to the AP. Tell him what happened, tell him what you plan to do (so it doesn't look as though you're leaving the cleanup to him) and ask him what he thinks.
     
  21. Unbeknownst

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    Mar 22, 2010

    I'm a little late, but I think you're getting excellent advice.

    You don't have to let them "do whatever they want," but you have to correct them in a way where they don't have to save face.

    Someone mentioned earlier where you whisper to them at their desk about your intentions so the other students don't hear. I think this is excellent advice.

    Be clear and intentional about your instructions. Never state a rule you're not willing to enforce every time.

    And, as I'm sure you can imagine, have a degree of leniency built in because the students don't know you, and discipline is 80% student repoire, which you simply haven't had the chance to establish yet.
     
  22. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 22, 2010

    Update - a happy ending

    I went in and spoke to one of the APs before class today. He told me that if any student is not following your directions, send them to the office. Period. I appreciated the support.

    Fortunately, I did not have to do that at all. The class was well-behaved and on task. Still had a high number of tardies though. What a difference a day makes. And this is a class composed largely of student with very high academic marks.

    As a side note, the school is allowed to report any disciplinary actions that result in suspension or expulsion to colleges and universities, because colleges are increasingly concerned about student behavior on their own campuses. So college bound seniors do have to keep it within limits.

    Again, thanks for everyone's input.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2010
  23. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Mar 22, 2010

    A waste of administrators time and your time (when you have to deal with it after class) in my opinion.
     
  24. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    Mar 22, 2010

    Well I think if you are getting HS seniors to do work of any kind thats great!! I had senioritous bad when I was a senior(2006). I really didn't wanna do nothing and to top it off the weather made me not wanna be there. As long as they are not doing anything to cause another teacher or Principal to walk in then I'd leave em' alone.
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 22, 2010

    I'm glad it all worked out.

    I do think that you acted differently than I would have. I'm not saying that you did the wrong thing, just that you did a different thing than I would have done.

    I feel like students at this age know what is expected of them. If the assignment is to work on a particular worksheet, then that's what they should be doing--and they know that. If they choose to do something else, that's their choice. As long as they aren't disrupting others, they are free to make that choice in my classroom. The consequence will happen later when they are asked to demonstrate what they've learned...which they probably won't be able to do if they haven't done the practice assignments.

    It seems to me like pushing a student to work on a particular assignment over other homework maybe escalated the situation to the point where it got out of control and the student became insubordinate. I feel like it's always best to avoid escalating situations and students. It's also always best to let students make their own choices, even if they aren't the best choices, as long as you are sure to follow through with appropriate consequences.

    I think that if I had been in your position, I would have allowed the students to work quietly on whatever they wanted, and I would have indicated to the regular teacher in a note which students did what they were supposed to do and which did not. That allows the students to make their own choices and the teacher to decide whether to follow through on any sort of disciplinary action.

    Just my two cents.
     
  26. Subber

    Subber Companion

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    Mar 26, 2010


    Hmm..whenever I get called to sub a highschool, most of the time I wasn't even told what grade. It sounds like you guys get to know beforehand.

    About your experience with ST. I once had - it's been awhil - a TA (a college student) who, instead of asking me what I needed her to help me with, was chatting with students sonstantly. She was probably trying to make them like her but still, it was very disrespectful in the sense she, as a TA, was making noise. I was getting really annoyed toward the end of the second period that I was ready to say something if she continues that was in the 3rd period but she left after 2nd per. Thank goodness.
     
  27. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Mar 27, 2010

    Well, we don't really know what grade it is when we see the assignment, one can only guess by generalities - usually if it's government/civics (Social studies), or calculus, it probably is for seniors.

    Well, I was really very, very careful in my behavior while an ST; in retrospective, I probably should have chatted with them MORE such that I got to connect with them more.
     
  28. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Mar 27, 2010

    Everyone is making good points, but I don't want you to get the impression that you did anything BADLY. Some people may have handled it different, etc. but it is what it is.

    People who are giving you a sortof (this is dangerous on this board because people take it as an attack on them) what-did-you-expect answer... the bottom line is that the kid is being disrespectful by lashing back out at YOU, the adult.

    Personally, I'm one of those subs who, if the kids work at something, I'm cool with it. (But I can see your point too.)

    But when you take a line that subs and classroom teachers should be different in their expectations... well, that's why subs tend to get less respect, with their dealings with the kids. It's a two-way street.

    At this point, I could think of a couple of totally opposing ways that I might handle the situation now, and still maintain the flow that you are looking for. Good luck to you man.
     

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