Subs, do you see yourself as controlling (of the kids)?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by Subber, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. Subber

    Subber Companion

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    Oct 12, 2010

    I have been thinking that ..

    since I manage different situations (middle school kids vs high schools kids) in different ways, sometimes I feel funny about myself. I feel funny because my birth order is so big that my much older siblings would not come to terms with the fact that I am an grown adult to have a conversations where I can give my view about things where they make gross mistakes (related to things that affect the rest of our immediate family).

    Half the time, as I am managing the kids, inside, I feel funny about how I am putting a face that is required rather than showing what I really feel which is the face they won't take me seriously because I'd be too nice. In fact, some kids figured that out and even said it. But, I always responded with "But, I am strict." so that they'd start goofing off. What about you?
     
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  3. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Oct 13, 2010

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "controlling"?

    Do I like to joke around with the kids? Yeah, I do.
    Do I let the kids joke around with me and/or each other some? A little bit.
    Do I let them just have a free day or do whatever they want? Not a chance.

    Kids are always going to try to get away with more stuff when they have a sub, but most of them (in my district anyway) also realize there will probably be serious consequences from the regular teacher if they get completely out of control.

    As a sub, I try to let them know that *I* know they are going to play around some and I'll allow a LITTLE bit of that, but they will still complete the assignment left by the teacher AND they will treat me with the same respect they give the regular teacher.

    My normal routine is to introduce myself (if the kids don't already know me), take attendance, then go over the instructions left by the regular teacher. There might be a little bit of joking about "can't you just let us have a free day", but I let the kids know that isn't going to happen. Their teacher left work that (s)he expects to be done and it WILL be done before they return.

    Once I've given them the instructions, I hand out any material they need for the assignment, then I will constantly walk around the room, passing every student at least once each circuit. Any side conversations that are starting stop almost immediately as I approach. If two kids continue talking, I will stop and look directly at them. That usually gets the message across and they put their focus back on the assignment.

    During the last 5-10 minutes of class is the time I generally joke around with the class, IF most of them have finished the assignment (which is usually the case). If several of them are still working, then I just tell those who do finish to either read their AR book or work on other HW until the bell rings.

    If most of the class is finished, I will normally put a riddle or lateral thinking problem on the board to keep the occupied during the last few minutes of class.
     
  4. midwesttchr

    midwesttchr Rookie

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    Oct 13, 2010

    I also have much older siblings that were essentially raised in a much different household than I was. We love each other genuinely as siblings do, but I am definitely treated as the baby. Always probably will be, but things could be worse. ;)

    As for substitute teaching, I have found that the first time I sub in a classroom, I am very strict. This means rules reviewed, not necessarily stern but confident voice and eye contact with every single student. Essentially, to me, strict means telling them what I want done, and how it's to be done. Consequences - which are most certainly followed through - if these don't happen the way I want it to.

    In order for the students to take me me seriously and follow directions, I must begin this way. Trust me, when I first began subbing, I started out kind and smiling, as I see their regular classroom teachers do in the morning. This introductory approach does not often work well for subs, even though it feels most inviting and natural for us well-meaning teachers.

    I do not sub middle school and high school, but the general principle across the board for ANY teacher usually is to start off strict and then slowly loosen up as needed. Being strict to begin with felt awkward for me at first, but I noticed how much it pays off as the school year progress. It's only October, but I've already been in multiple classrooms multiple times. Kids who have had me as a sub know automatically that I mean business but also know that I care what they have to say and want to them to have fun.

    Just remember that how you are as a substitute teacher will not be how you are as a classroom teacher, at least not exactly when it comes to management. Classroom teachers are almost blessed with an automatic sense of respect, whereas substitute teachers - to students - are automatic causes for misbehavior and general nonsense. Cerek gave great examples of how to lessen issues, specifically for your grade levels.

    I guess that's why I've gravitated towards elementary. Even when I feel like a tyrant - at the end of the day, my hard work and exhaustion are usually paid off in hugs. :) Kids will find a way to like you even when you're strict! (Because honestly, the best strict teachers are still fair and acknowledge those students who ARE doing the right thing!)
     
  5. Subber

    Subber Companion

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    Oct 13, 2010

    Isn't that the truth?

    I have been subbing half high schools and half elementary last spring but I started out this fall mostly with high schools and only now, I am doing a bit of elementary and that's only because the other district where I serve only HS has been calling me late.

    That's the ultimate truth.

     
  6. Mldouglas

    Mldouglas Comrade

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    Oct 13, 2010

    I tend to fall in the middle

    I am an elementary sub. When I first started I was super tough(mean) and after a few years I was able to strike a happy balance. I just basically tell them my expectations right off and what will happen if they are not met. I usually reward them with either a little free time at the end of the day or we play a short game.


    Mldouglas
     
  7. midwesttchr

    midwesttchr Rookie

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    Oct 14, 2010

    Elementary in general is indeed exhausting! There have been days where the kids go to lunch, and I practically nod off at the desk! :haha:

    I'm sure you all notice too, after a while, that as you step into more and more classrooms - regardless of grade level - you can already sense what's to come. Refraining from using stereotypes, you can tell those students who enjoy school, who don't, who respect authority, and who challenges. You'll know right away if they're a class that follows directions well as a group when they walk in, or you walk in. Within 1-2 minutes, you can already start sensing how much redirection you'll have to give as they get ready for the day or get their materials out.

    All this basically sums up my same stance whenever I begin in a new class, regardless of age: I am ALWAYS somehow standing in the room, either preparing materials or greeting them. I also immediately begin giving directions, whether reminding them to sign up for lunch or to get ready for the lesson. This lets them know that I am the boss, even if I am a new face, and I know their routine, even if eventually I ask a helper how Mrs. so-and-so usually does it. (This is a moment to give a shout out to wonderful teachers with very detailed LP's. The more detail they give, the better us subs look and do! ;))
     
  8. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Oct 18, 2010

    I wouldn't use the word "controlling" to describe my style. I definitely want orderly and respectful children, but when I think controlling... I think of teachers who are more like dictators.

    In my school, a couple of teachers dictate (in a loud, firm voice) to their kids about everything: lining up outside, walking, in class, etc. Whenever I see them, I often wonder how they get through their day every day. And it's no wonder if they develop permanent frown lines. And for the record: this is a suburban school, mild in terms of student behavior, etc. When I say dictate, I mean they speak in a ready to get angry but not yelling, drill-sargent kind of way. It certainly isn't the way that they talk outside of school. That's my idea of controlling.

    To sort of answer your question, I don't think you should diverge too much from your normal personality. I think your normal personality should come through in your teaching style, while still maintaining that firm authority position. I don't believe in letting teaching (or any job) change your personality for the worse. i.e. If I had to teach in a school that I had to act like those teachers (be "mean" all the time... I know they aren't mean, and I'm not trying to be judgmental, and I'm not acting like I'm so great)... I would not do it.
     

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