Subbing special education - always films...

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by jvanwagner, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. jvanwagner

    jvanwagner Rookie

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    Oct 5, 2012

    (I'm writing this in a hurry before school, just to get it out there, so, my apologies for sounding hurried and perhaps a bit rash in my post. I am expressing genuine concern over something I have little understanding about.)

    I know it can be hard for teachers to write a solid sub plan that involves any instruction being given on the part of the sub, since many subs aren't qualified to teach. I also realize that there are even more difficulties doing this with a Special Education classroom, since many of these students may be slow to warm up to a new classroom presence, and may have difficulty paying attention to an unfamiliar teacher.

    That said, however, I'm once again a little bit astounded with the lack of "actual education" taking place in Special Education classrooms I've been subbing in for the past few weeks. Nearly all of them have been watching films, and nearly all of these films have no set focus - they're "just for fun". Nothing is asked of students to look out for, even if just to the best of their ability, it's just a break from doing what little they've done this week (from the looks of things, they've written three sentences and done less than two dozen math problems all week).

    In the past, I have even mentored Special Education students who reported days, even whole weeks, of nothing-doing in their homeroom classes. One student reported watching four movies he had "really wanted to see" one week. The same student was also free to improvise short films (in the classroom). Some of these things have merit in and of themselves (I'm all about students exploring new, non-academic, interests at school - in many cases, it helps them later focus on the academics!), but when they're taking place in classrooms where the seeming majority of the time is devoid of instruction, or even any real teacher interaction, I feel like there's a problem.

    I don't want to sound like I'm completely tearing into Special Education, which I understand can be very difficult, and may deal with a broader spectrum of "divergent" learners and individuals with learning disabilities, but, please tell me how this happens? Why does it seem like we're not at least trying to educate these kids?

    As an example: in the past two weeks, we've watched the following movies:

    - Despicable Me
    - Finding Nemo
    - The Incredibles
    - Matilda (in "mild interventions", following having read the book, so this is a bit of an exception)
    - Transformers
    - Thor

    ...what's the point? Some kids are perfectly content with it, while others express boredom, discontent, and even rage that they're not doing something else while they're at school. As a substitute, I'm of course impotent to actually do anything but turn in notes about my experiences and observations, but can I do anything else? Is there anything that I should perhaps suggest? Or should I try to be content, myself?
     
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  3. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Oct 5, 2012

    I teach special education and I can say from my experience this is not the norm. They might have their own reasons for showing movies when they have subs since perhaps the classwork is related to their IEPs and has to be closely monitored by the teacher. I really have no suggestions but I would just do what I'm asked while subbing
     
  4. jvanwagner

    jvanwagner Rookie

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    Oct 5, 2012

    Oh, I absolutely do what I'm told while subbing. It's not my place at all, in spite of any qualifications, to go against the plan for somebody else's classroom. That's not really what I'm getting at; if we're supposed to watch a movie, then we're going to watch a movie.

    I have, however, observed this happening in numerous special education classrooms, and heard complaints - from special education students and paraprofessionals - of this happening routinely in their homeroom classes, in both states and schools throughout nearly all ten districts I've subbed or mentored students in. I'm not panicking and saying there's SOMETHING THAT MUST BE DONE (unless there is), because I'm not a special education teacher (yet), but I would like to know what the excuse is for regularly taking half-weeks off of one, two, or three whole classes to have students fall asleep to movies.
     
  5. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Oct 5, 2012

    Oh, I really feel you on this one. I've subbed for special ed in rooms for students with multiple disabilities all the way up to academic support, and it seems like the less able the students are the more movies/time-wasting there is in the classroom. Because I'm a sub, I assumed for a long time that this was happening just because I was there (obviously, a shake-up in the schedule), but honestly, it happens almost every day sometimes! A few examples...

    -TWO movies in an elementary class for a Friday reward (that's four hours of movies)
    -A daily 30 minutes video in an elementary autism class to help "wind them down for the day" (this was actually on the schedule)
    -Canceling work time and "just letting them play" in special ed preschool since it was the end of the week

    And I remember watching the one kid play in the sensory bin for two hours in a middle school classroom... I asked if I could do something else with him (he was obviously getting bored... he kept trying to get up and go somewhere else) but I was told that the aide I was subbing for usually did all that and they didn't know what he did, so the sensory bin would work great for the day.

    I understand it's special ed, and I know a lot of these kids do have difficulty with attention and many need that downtime, but as much as I would like to believe that's the reason, it always seems like these things happen "just because" instead of having a planned purpose.

    Anyway, no suggestions, I just sympathize. I do hope that this isn't the norm around the country, just my own experience.
     
  6. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Oct 5, 2012

    I had a planned sub yesterday, and I left detailed academic plans for the entire day. My sub happened to be a retired spec ed teacher, but I didn't know that when I was planning. Today was an unplanned sub as I have sick kiddos at home. I drove 40 minutes just to make sure I left academic work for the students, then 40 minutes back home to be with my kids.

    I haven't shown a single movie yet this year, and we've been in school since August 20. Definitely not the norm. I don't even have movies easily located as a just in case.

    Sorry you've experienced this. It definitely gives a tarnished opinion of my profession, one that shames me. I take great pains to be at my best. I am a teaching professional, not a glorified babysitter.
     
  7. jvanwagner

    jvanwagner Rookie

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    Oct 5, 2012

    See, that's what I hope for when I sub, but it's happened all of twice, ever. Looks like it may, again, soon, because I'm apparently the only licensed teacher for Psychology that a Psychology teacher I subbed for has ever had come in, so he's booking me in the future. Woohoo!
     
  8. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Oct 5, 2012

    I teach special education- and I admit, sometimes I leave a video for the sub. It's always on topic, and never long. It can be hard for a sub who doesn't know the students well to teach them effectively. It has nothing to do with the sub and everything to do with the unique needs of a student. I teach students with moderate disabilities. It's also hard to judge how long activities will take, because it all depends on what kind of day my students are having. I gave very similar math practice out a week apart from each other. One time, it took an hour and a half. The other time it took 10 mins. I've not shown any videos this year, so with a sub it would be something special.

    For the Finding Nemo- there is a special education newsletter and it was the theme a few weeks ago. I wonder if that is why they were watching Finding Nemo.
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Oct 5, 2012

    Outside of lunch/recess and specials, my kids get ONE 10 minute afternoon period for a snack and brain break. I do not expect any different from a sub. In fact, I was out yesterday for PD and my sub thanked me for thorough plans. They definitely are assigned WORK, even if it's just routine or review.
     
  10. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Oct 5, 2012

    You can come sub in my classroom! I often have the opposite problem - I leave detailed plans (although in my elementary mod/sev autism classroom, they are ALL review and stuff I know the kids can do) and I often have subs that don't even try.

    I do feel your frustration about the videos. I have seen other teachers do this, and, as karebear stated, it shames me. My kids have a 15 minute period daily (after gym) where they pass out and drink water (somebody's job to collect/pass the bottles, please/thank you, etc.) and the kids then take turns selecting video clips from a SMARTboard. I try to pick things I know they will enjoy, but it is ALWAYS thematic and ALWAYS concept or unit related, and they are working on initiating turns, communcation with each other and myself, and we talk about and review the videos in a group together.
     
  11. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Oct 5, 2012

    Last time I subbed in a Special Education science class (years ago), the teacher's friend who was supposed to hand off a video for me was late. I ran to the library and found an awesome video on volcanoes, since it was an Earth Science class. When the friend came in with the video I was supposed to use, I was dismayed to find I would have to sit through half of Hitch for 6 periods that day. However, this was what the teacher wanted, so that's what I did.
     
  12. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Oct 6, 2012

    Also, something I forgot to add to my previous post is that I usually sub for the para in the sped classroom.... so in the majority of the situations where the class doesn't do much for the day the teacher IS there. When I subbed for learning support much more often a few years ago, the movies were not quite as much of a problem.
     
  13. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    Oct 6, 2012

    This is absolutely uncalled for. I would report it to the principal. Most places have a policy on hand regarding movies.
     
  14. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    Oct 6, 2012

    I'm a sped teacher and I am not able to show movies anytime during the year.

    I would not leave a sub a movie. I leave two sets of sub plans. One set has insturctions for those knowing how to use technology. My laptop hooked to my smartboard is not password protected. The name of the student that can help with technology issues ( they take turns in my classroom.)

    Another set of sub plans for those that don't feel comfortable using technology. I don't have a choice on who subs and I want my sub to feel comfortable. A comfortable sub that knows what is going on is going to have a more successful day with my kids.
     
  15. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Oct 6, 2012

    I've taught severe to profound autism/life skills classes for six years and I've never shown (or thought of showing) a movie. This is definitely not the norm.
     
  16. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Funny, I haven't shown a video (even an educational one in 2 years). No one shows movies at my school because it is an "open-concept" school so if there was a movie shown from the Smartboard, everyone on the floor would hear it and it would be distracting.

    I wish I could have a sub show movies because I have to take a professional day this week and I have some worries about a sub's ability to handle teaching my class.
     
  17. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    Oct 9, 2012

    Here showing something like that is against policies. Any movies must be rated G. I have refused to show movies when they were not rated G, it's not worth losing my job just to show a movie. Check with you district policy on showing movies.
     
  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Oct 10, 2012

    My master teacher had her students watching Twilight, Kung-Fu Panda, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

    This was an 8th grade SCIENCE teacher. Their MAIN teacher for the subject, not even a sub.

    It was hell sitting through Twilight.
     
  19. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Oct 10, 2012

    I could see...in terms of a whole student teaching experience...maybe one of those movies being shown as a reward right before the end of school or a large break. But all of those movies? I'm not all for nor all against movies, but I think showing more than 1 every ~16 weeks is starting to push it, especially at 8th grade.
     
  20. NickiMacaroni

    NickiMacaroni Rookie

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    Oct 21, 2012

    I know some substitutes who, after subbing for a while, have collected their own stash of lesson plans for different grades and abilities. These lessons might not specifically be part of what the students are currently learning... but then again, neither are the movies. For instance, with a class of elementary students, a sub might bring a few children's books by a favorite author, and some activities to go along with the books like an art project, a game to play in small groups, and an activity packet printed from the author's website. I don't think a teacher would be angry to find out that a sub taught an extra lesson on something worthwhile. If it were me, I can't imagine thinking, "No, no, no! I wanted them to watch FINDING NEMO!" And if it really doesn't seem to be working... if the kids seem upset by having to do your lesson, for instance... you'd always have the movie to fall back on. :D
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 21, 2012

    Last year a sub in the Spanish classroom down the hall didn't like the lesson plans left by the teacher--which included watching a movie in Spanish. The purpose of the activity was to work on listening skills and to start getting used to hearing people with different accents, both of which are a big deal in a foreign language classroom.

    Anyway, the sub took it upon himself to teach students how to conjugate verbs in Spanish (I run, you run, he runs, we run, y'all run, they run). The students weren't ready for that information and were completely lost. The teacher was livid when she returned and found out what had happened. She requested that that sub never be allowed in her classroom ever again.
     
  22. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Oct 25, 2012

    That's how I feel too. I don't leave movies for my subs to show when I'm gone, however I do have a set of "alternate plans" because the work I do with my kiddos either has to be modified on the fly OR it requires training - like the SRA reading program. Yes, there's a script - but I also have three different reading groups in three different sections of two different books - YEESH. Just thinking of writing all that out for a sub makes my head spin. :dizzy: It's easier to give alternate plans for the day.
     

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