Subbing/Discipline Problems

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Librarianman, Dec 17, 2019.

  1. Librarianman

    Librarianman New Member

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    Dec 17, 2019

    First, a huge shout-out to teachers who have to deal with this kind of thing I'm going to mention every day, all day.

    I am a librarian in a 4-8 grade school; this is my fourth year, and I'm 50. That said, I'm constantly being asked to sub for the middle school. At least one period every day. When I do, it's a nightmare: most classes are extremely rude, talkative, silly, cross- and or back talking. Very little work gets done. I have no authority, and very little to threaten them with. Their teachers know this; you can write down as many names as you wish, have conversations with the teachers after, but nothing changes. The kids that do get office write-ups generally will only get warnings, and so it stays the same.

    My question is: how do you not let this mess up your whole day? I'm finding that I'm getting so upset, so angry, that my entire day is ruined because of a handful of kids who pressed my buttons. Yes, I know I'm supposed to be the adult and be able to handle my emotions, but it is wearing me down. It makes me mad at the school, at the students, even at the prospect of doing anything extra for anybody. I was going to go the basketball game after school today, but you know what: I said screw it, and I went home. I know it's not all the kids, just some of them, and I do treasure the nice ones, but like I said, it's killing my spirit. Only after about five or six hours do I calm down. Today's incident happened at 1:00 today and I'm still upset about it at almost 6:00.

    (Outside of more obvious stuff, like seeing a therapist, doing hard drugs, and/or drinking...(joke)) -- what are some coping mechanisms?
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
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  3. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Dec 17, 2019

    Middle school kids are a whole other animal. I’ve spent 27 years with them. I just remember that puberty is not kind, and they will eventually turn into people. Until then, I don’t take anything personally and love them while I wrangle work out of them.
     
  4. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    Dec 17, 2019

    I agree. Don’t take it personally. At this level, teachers develop control through building relationships and reputation - something that is much harder to develop as an occasional sub. I now teach 8th grade, but when I was subbing, I disliked subbing for that age for just the reasons you mentioned. Deal with major issues, but as for the more minor infractions, don’t take it personally.
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2019

    Are you being asked to sub, as in, you actually can say no, or are you being ordered to sub, as in "you are the only warm body, so consider the job yours." If it is the first scenario, simply say no, you are washing your hair, putting out traps for mice, or anything else tongue in cheek that lets them know you don't want to spend a period subbing. On the other hand, if you are being ordered to sub, then you are the warm body of the hour, so accept and mentally repeat any mantra that keeps you in the calm zone. Trust me when I say that not one of the teachers you are subbing for actually expects you to teach a meaningful lesson, and that isn't an insult to you. It is the realization that some adult needs to occupy the big chair, and tag, you're it for that day. Once you see it like that, you will be able to let it all just float on down the stream. You have a handful of bad kids - that is school 101. Only you, however, can let that turn into anger. Get your hands on some Brain Quest cards to have on subbing days - go off script - the students will be thrown off stride by you not being the sub that can be made angry. I had a bag of such things to pull from, and it is surprising how much learning got done, just not with the stale work sheets that busy teachers tend to fall back on. Your a librarian - read to them. That can't be any worse than them not working on assigned busy work, and you might can nail the subject to the narrative. I personally love MS students, and they are no worse than any other grade, from youngest, to oldest. Remember that at some point in time someone thought of your classmates with the same disdain, in all likelihood, but you turned out OK.
     
  6. whizkid

    whizkid Habitué

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    Dec 18, 2019

    What state are you in? I'm sure that has to be against your state department's regulations.
     
  7. Surviving the Classroom

    Surviving the Classroom Rookie

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    Dec 18, 2019

    One of the most difficult things with working in a profession you are genuinely invested in is learning that you are in "the struggle", whatever that may be, alone. The slightest ounce of outside support can easily give you the courage and/or energy to deal with the shenanigans yet another day. In reality, we know this just doesn't always exist. So, what do we do? We continue to try and be The Little Engine That Could until our engine breaks down. It is at that point, we no longer exist as our best. We become the least effective in areas we were once great. We become overwhelmed and in some cases to the point of no return. So, what should we do? Implementing coping mechanisms of any kind is only a portion of the solution. Yes, they can bring resolve for some. However, if you are finding that your coping mechanisms are not potent enough to combat work related stress, then this may mean you haven't found your go-to coping mechanism(s) and need to keep looking, or the ones you have chosen may bring temporary comfort, but just aren't enough to fix the root of the problem. If this is the case, you should aim to fix the root of the problem - challenging student behavior..........yourself. I know. I know. Probably something you did not expect to do. Doesn't matter. When you do not have the support, sometimes it takes you becoming creative if you are to weather the storm. You have to tell yourself that you are educated and have lots of talent in your area of expertise. Is there some sort of engaging activity from your experience as a librarian that you can use to get students hooked prior, during, or post the sub lesson plan? It can be as simple as an icebreaker or fun reading activity that will WOW students. It doesn't have to require lots of planning or take over the main lesson. It's just to serve as a splash of something exciting that students will then start to associate you with. What's something so unique about you and what you do that you can share with these students? We all have something fun to share. Right now, some students may just see you as the librarian whose role is only in the library and not leading a content class. Yes, you are the librarian, but there is more to you than just what you may do in the library. If there's no time to plan or think of an icebreaker or activity you might be able to bring to add flare to the classrooms, try these:

    • incentives - identify a target behavior you want students to model during the lesson and the incentive they will earn for modeling it. Have students suggest ideas if you need help with some. Be specific about the target behavior. Instead of just saying complete your work, you may want to say the specific number of worksheets, the specific number of problems, and the time in which it should be completed by. host competitions. students love to compete. you can have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

    • talk to the class in an effort to connect - students will often come out and say what it is that will help make the teaching and learning experience work for you both

    • incorporate breaks for super lengthy periods (e.g. 90 mins)- add in short timed breaks for the whole class when students model a specific target behavior you'd like them to model

    • add music while students work independently - classical, jazz, or anything appropriate to soothe the spirt of the classroom and your own.
    just to name a few.

    In the meantime, it might help to cope by connecting with other colleagues who may provide additional support and ideas. Congratulations on taking the effort you have made thus far. Continue to do your best. Do not let this experience damage your engine.
     
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  8. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Devotee

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    Dec 23, 2019

    First, you have my deepest condolences! I did not even like my own kids in JR High, of course I still loved them. They were good kids in elementary, and by 9th grade, they grew out of it. I have less tolerance with a class of JR high kids than I have w/ anyone. So I am so sorry you have been stuck w/ them.
    Kids that age are "all about themselves." They might behave better if the short lesson is more about them.
    There are tons of free quizzes you can get online that'd take up different amounts of time.(Examples: What is your learning style? What is your personality type? What career best fits your personality? )There are also tests on emotional intelligence that could bring about some humor for you because kids that age "play around w/ who they really are.".
    After they take the test, I am sure some would love to share what the test tells about them and why. ( Kill time letting them talk about themselves...) Then you could ask them to write something short telling if they agree or disagree w/ the findings and why.
    It is just an one activity to play with if you are interested.
    As for the anger, I get it. I was raised in a way that anger was not ever an emotion showed by my mom and girls did not express it. It took me years to realize how much anger I really had inside because I might blow up at someone once every 8-10 years.
    It shocks the daylights out of anyone who has seen me mad. 1x I snapped at a meeting about 20 yrs ago. The VP who was a good friend told me she had a nightmare that night about me. I didn't cuss , but my voice was louder than normal, and I called someone on their BS in a shocking, rude way for me. A room full of people had their mouths gaping. I think I had let my anger build to a boiling point ( without really acknowledging it was there) and that person hit the wrong button.
    I think playing music is a really good idea too. When I feel stressed, I play something mellow in the background quietly. JH kids will want to hear their own music when they hear yours playing. You might just tell them that you need the mellow music to drowned out their smart mouths and sniveling. lol If they could make you not need to do that for 3/4 of the period, you could let them pick out some of the music, BUT make sure you know what they want to listen to before you play it! ( A lot is really inappropriate for school.)
    I understand your idea of The Little Engine that Could. I feel like that I was that engine for almost 30 yrs, but last yrs class did me in! This yr, I have a more mellow type of job. I am done at the end of the year because the mellow job is only for this yr. I wish you the best and am so sorry you have to tolerate the JH kids.
     
  9. ThatWouldBeBaaaaad

    ThatWouldBeBaaaaad Rookie

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    Dec 27, 2019

    I'm sorry ... man, it sucks to feel like merely "a warm body."
    Might there be a way your admin and/or teacher (for whom you're subbing) could help? Could you maybe agree to the assignment, but make it understood some students might be headed to the office, and admin needs to be available? In other words, if they're asking you, I think it's fine to say, "Sure thing. However, as we all know the extra struggle subs face, I'm gonna need some backup. I can't carry out the lesson plan if I'm constantly managing behavior - and that seems to be what this has become."
    Ha! Fine in theory, right?! But I totally hear you. Please let us know what happens!
     
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  10. ThatWouldBeBaaaaad

    ThatWouldBeBaaaaad Rookie

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    Dec 27, 2019

    And for what it's worth - it bears mentioning that "not taking it personally" is a skill ... one constantly being honed. I find it so easy to say, and so difficult to carry out. Trying to come across to the students as "having not taken anything personally" is about all I can manage, most days. At the very least, they don't think they've gotten to me - which, at their age, is the M.O. (for a myriad of reasons. One being: it's so entertaining to watch an adult lose their s***!)
    I often think: I can't make the students work; make them do the assignment ... put the pencil in their hand, etc. They know the expectation. I have to - at some point - trust it's okay with admin and the classroom teacher that learning is not taking place. I truly want it to be a better class than that, but until admin actually holds students accountable, I feel I'm doing all I can just to keep students physically safe.
     
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  11. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Devotee

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    This is the main reason I switched from teaching this yr. I love to teach and have fun with the kids too, but academics is 1 w/me. Everyone's hands are tied nowadays. Depending upon the class you get, you may spend a yr doing crowd control. I am not sure exactly what changed, but we started getting tons of SED kids w/ no support awhile back. And no consequences for unsafe and disrespectful behaviors....It is like we are being told to put the needs of a few, or even 1, over the rest of the class. I can't do another yr like I did a couple of yrs ago when my main job seemed to be keeping kids safe from kids w/ severe problems.
    Oh, and yes! Not taking it personally is definitely a skill that develops. I never let the kids see they got my goat if I can help it. I guess I have gotten to a point that other people's opinions impact me a lot less than when I was younger too. This may sound awful, but I sometimes ask myself, " Do I care what this moron's opinion is of me?" It may just be a way I can cope w/ it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
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  12. ThatWouldBeBaaaaad

    ThatWouldBeBaaaaad Rookie

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    Dec 28, 2019

    I don't think it sounds awful ... at all. I truly think it's part of a survival mode in which we so often have to immerse ourselves, these days. It can be so damaging to feel reduced to merely some kind of cattle-prodding ringmaster. And I wholly believe it's often damaging to the kids, as well ... most know something's not right; most (subconsciously or otherwise) know it doesn't feel right, doesn't feel terribly safe, and they truly don't want to participate in being a**h***s day after day after day.
    Kind of ironic to risk inflicting more trauma to illustrate what (we think) is now a "fully trauma-sensitive environment." o_O UGH. Glad you're able to let more things roll off your back ... keep going.
     
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  13. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Devotee

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    It is ironic. We expose kids to more trauma when we allow this crap to go on....I think the only reason I can let some of it roll is because I know that I am almost done. I think a lot of people in my school are in "survival mode" too.
     
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  14. ThatWouldBeBaaaaad

    ThatWouldBeBaaaaad Rookie

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    Dec 28, 2019

    YES: the influence of knowing one's almost done. I'm so intrigued about the role that plays, consciously or no. (If I may indulge in some tongue-in-cheek, overly-simple hyperbole? Our "system" has been given a young, healthy, un-jaded human who wishes to help smaller, un-jaded humans. Older-un-jaded human gives their all to younger un-jadeds - and for years - and how are they rewarded?! ) The really sad thing, to me, is I feel I just can't be "in it for the kids," anymore, and still keep my physical and emotional health. As hokey as it sounds, at least I could say to myself that I was making a difference ... I wasn't "just" making "some old, rich dude even richer." Now, however ... I just try and coast through most days, and steer clear of the admin's radar.
     
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  15. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Devotee

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    It plays a huge role for me now that I have decided to stick a fork in it. With the attitude I have, I am actually able have more fun with the kids." I am able to relax about somethings that really do not matter in the scheme of things. However, I am not teaching a classroom this yr. Yeah, what they ask of teachers now is too much for their physical and emotional health. I ended up in a school full of experienced teachers and many of us have aged together. A few of the teachers need about 4 more to go to retire. They are doing exactly what you say: steer clear and off the radar. They are still doing "hard time!" :)
     

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