Substitute Help: What to do when other teachers make you feel small

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by s20890, Jul 27, 2021.

  1. s20890

    s20890 Rookie

    Jul 27, 2021
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    Jul 27, 2021

    I just got hired as a long-term substitute at a new school. I was looking for a permanent position but for various reasons, I have accepted (and am excited about this position!). I will be teaching a lower elementary grade and will have all of the responsibilities and duties of a permanent teacher minus observations. I am NOT a newbie teacher. I have about 10 YEARS of varied experience and am highly qualified. I am very comfortable with the age group learning wise and have strong classroom management skills but due to my appearance and kind, easygoing demeanor, I am often mistaken and look younger than my age. Teachers often think I have less experience than I do. I need advice on how to command respect from other teachers and respond to the following scenarios:

    Something in the past that drives me crazy is a lack of respect not from the kids or parents so much as from other teachers. You know those that burst into the classroom when I am instructing the kids or the kids are quietly working and belittle me with things like, "Are you guys being good? (when they are). You guys better be good with this substitute. Your REAL teacher will be back soon. I know it's hard." This drives me nuts especially when I have a good rapport with the class and they respect me. I feel that it takes their respect away from me. Also, I am a real teacher so the words hurt.

    Another example is when a kid does something minor like get up to throw something away and an aide (if there is one) screams "You would NEVER do that if your teacher was here!" or "Would you do that if Mrs. ____ was here? I am going to tell her everything you have done." This ruins my day especially if the class has been good. If it is a bad class, I wouldn't mind the words. But it usually isn't.

    A third example is in the hall when a teacher corrects my class or tells me if a kid happens to talk or play around with another student in line. I take great pains in talking to the class and setting hallway expectations and watching them in line as best I can. So I hate being treated like an incompetent newbie. At the school I worked at last year, a teacher witnessed two kids playfully hit each other at the end of the line as I was walking back to the classroom with a class. The teacher told me what they did (in a way like, you better do something about it right here, right now, what are you going to do about it). I said ok. I probably should have said thank you for telling me. I didn't. The teacher I guess expected me to yell and discipline the kids right in front of her. That is not my style. The teacher then went back to the room she was visiting (the guidance room and started pointing and whispering about me to the guidance counselor). I was furious and started yelling and being knitpicky with the kids. I didn't have a classroom management problem before recess but I did for the rest of the day. I wish teachers would not judge situations they know nothing about.

    Do I just grit my teeth and ignore these interactions? Say: THANK You for your feedback/help even though it isn't helpful. Put more energy into trying to develop a personal relationship with teachers?
  3. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

    Oct 25, 2005
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    Jul 28, 2021

    I was a sub for middle and high school, and everyone was always great. I would sub one elementary if they were desperate, and it was always terrible. The climate of the school was such that they ran great with their regular staff, but any “outsider” was viewed with disdain.

    I would suspect the things you are seeing are a result of the culture of the school, not necessarily a “we don’t like you” kind of thing. I would ignore it.
    s20890 likes this.
  4. miss-m

    miss-m Groupie

    Oct 25, 2014
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    Jul 30, 2021

    Agreed. Teachers at my old school would do this even to other teachers in the building. Aides and paras would correct my students in front of me in the hallway. Like... Hello? I'm right here? And you just made my student feel like garbage, which I have to deal with for the rest of the day.

    It's not you. It's them.
    You keep doing you, have private, polite but direct conversations with those teachers if you think it would help ("I wanted to talk to you about ____. I know your goal was to help, and I appreciate your intention. I'd prefer if you wouldn't ____ because _____.") etc.
    Yes, develop relationships if you can, but be discerning about the teachers you befriend.
    Otherwise I'd get out of that school asap once your long-term assignment is done.
    Tired Teacher and s20890 like this.
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

    Jul 19, 2014
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    Jul 30, 2021

    It can be hard to be a sub, but it is unbearable if you are too sensitive to what others do or say, especially when those who "belittle" you are simply trying to help. Rule #1 of being a sub is to assume that poorly given "help" was actually meant to help, not to belittle you. I have been a sub as well as a contracted teacher, and I have considered the "help" given to subs is truly meant as a desire to help, not hinder, the sub. By and large, subbing requires you to have a little thicker skin than most contracted teachers, but I have noted that many contracted teachers have just as many gripes about others giving help when in wasn't asked for.
    s20890 and mathteachertobe like this.
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Feb 4, 2010
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    Jul 30, 2021

    I'm sorry but I disagree with the other advice. there is no way I could ignore comments like that. Those are truly belittling and disrespectful and are in front of the kids. Like you said, they do take away from your authority. It's horrible.
    If it's a comment that I only hear, I can ignore. Often people are very passive aggressive and make things so subtle that you second guess if you've heard it wrong, and if you confronted them, you could look like you're overreacting. so those are hard.

    But the comments you described, I would pull the teacher / staff member aside and ask them to stop and explain why.

    If you ignore, it's going to continue. Would you ignore an unwanted behavior from a student? No. What you allow, you enforce. If you ignore this, it will continue forever.
    Sometimes people don't even realize how they sound, so it might be just very easy to bring their attention to it, and have them stop. If they continue, then you know they do it in person and I would stay on top of that.
    This is just me.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2021
    Tired Teacher and s20890 like this.
  7. rpan

    rpan Cohort

    Mar 19, 2017
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    Jul 31, 2021

    I would have a private chat with the teacher or aide who made these comments. Its unprofessional to have these types of conversations or make comments about a teacher in front of students, well meaning or not. Students have a right to feel safe, that includes knowing which grownup to look to for direction when something negative is happening in the class or when there’s an emergency. You don’t put students in a position where they are unsure of who has the authority in the class or where they feel like the grownups around them are fighting and they are caught in the middle.
    Tired Teacher, Loomistrout and s20890 like this.

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