The Unthinkable

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by Lils90, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. Lils90

    Lils90 Rookie

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    Feb 2, 2018

    So recently I was given an assignment in a grade 7 classroom for the first time. I am a high school supply, but they needed elementary and when they called I said I would take the job (because being a new supply, what else can you say?).
    I get to this job and find out that I am meant to take a group of 25 students on my own to a nearby rec center that's a ten minute walk away. I was nervous, but confident that I could do it. I have worked in childcare for the last four years, and if I never lost a toddler (because when you turn your head, they are typically GONE), figured I could keep an eye on a bunch of 12 year olds....
    It hadn't been an entirely hectic day up until this point. I had one student who requested to go and sit in the office for some cool down time, and I effectively kept calling the office to check in with student to see if they were wanting to go on the trip still. Student opted out. Then had a student leave due to an appointment. Then had a student ask if they could go home after the activity (made sure to clear this through the office too). Next had a student tell me that they wanted to go home for lunch. This school allows their grade seven and up to leave the property during lunch hour without needing permission from either the teacher or the office-no sign out sheet or anything to keep track of who comes or goes.
    So the students know the routine for this day specifically, they aren't meant to go off of school property on days they go to this rec center and I remind them of that. I take the afternoon attendance while the kids are eating their lunch, whilst eating my own.
    Before going on the trip I do three head counts THREE and each time come up with the number I am supposed to. So we leave. Get to the rec center...then nearly an hour later the VP comes along with two students and at first I don't even recognize them or the VP (it was my second time at the school all together and my first time in the classroom). The one student had been the one that asked to go home during lunch (which I denied), and the other a friend. Thought it was a mother dropping her kids off late. Boy was I wrong. I was absolutely mortified to find out the students belonged to me and had been late coming back from an off property food joint. Essentially, they ducked and ran at some point to try and skip out, and I had absolutely no clue. And this was no doubt apparent to the VP judging by my shocked reaction (and the stomach plummeting as my initial thought was that I just lost my job).
    So so mortifying. And frustrating because these students KNEW the routine with their own teacher, and chose to ignore it because I am a supply (I have the utmost respect for elementary supplies who deal with these games on a daily basis).
    Needless to say there is a lesson learned here for me, but could I get some realistic predictions of what might happen? Will I get my name taken off of the list? I see so many stories online of children getting left behind AT the destination and no harm or foul was taken against the FULL TIME teacher, and my students were still at the school...but I am also a supply.
    Also, was it right for the school to send a supply who has never been in this class of 25 students before ALONE on this outing? There had been a second supply teacher in the room (they had overbooked) but told that supply teacher they had to go home at the half day (before the trip). Why couldn't that teacher have stayed the rest of the day for support? For some reason I would think that there would be a ratio for adult-student. After all, ratios in after school care is 15 kids per 1 adult (sometimes lower).
    Knowing that the students knowingly tried to avoid going by hanging out at this food joint and being late, would they be shouldering some of the responsibility at the age of 12 also?
    I am really trying not to stress about this, but I know I've made a huge error. I have many teaching friends and family that say nothing will probably come of this. I just hate how unprofessional I must have looked, and the fact that if something would have actually happened to these students I would never have forgiven myself. I can only hope that promises made that it won't happen again (which it really won't!) helps to save my career.

    Or am I overreacting???

    Thanks so much!
     
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  3. Hokiegrad1993

    Hokiegrad1993 Comrade

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    Feb 2, 2018

    Honestly you are not. However, I have some questions to the school

    1. Why do they let kids choose when they can go home and eat or just choose to leave?
    2. Why let a sub take that control and risk?


    I do not think this is your fault it is problems with the school.
     
  4. Lils90

    Lils90 Rookie

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    1. That's what I was a little concerned about too. Then again, I come from a country school myself where we were never allowed to leave school property (not that anything would be there to go to other than corn fields anyway). But not even having a system at the office where grade 7 and 8 students have to at least sign that they are going out to get their lunch? Seems a little daring to me to be entrusting 12-13 year olds with this responsibility (at least nowadays :S). High school, sure, but when kids are still in elementary? (this is a 7-12 school btw).

    2. Again, I was concerned about this too. This school was very understaffed that day (but it almost seems like ALL schools are apparently understaffed at this point), so I feel like they took a gamble on me that everything would be alright. If I was a admin though...I would definitely not be allowing a supply to take the students. I would either be switching the supply into another class so a teacher familiar with the students could take them, or I would have gone with the supply myself to ensure things went okay.

    Strange too...the VP didn't stop to really talk to me about it. Dropped the kids off, properly introduced herself, let me know where they had been, then hurried out the door...This was very puzzling to me as well. If I was a VP holding a supply responsible for their students, I would be pulling that supply aside then and there and asking to know step by step what happened and to hear the supply's side of the story after obviously hearing the student's. That's what makes me think that perhaps things won't turn out as bad as I am stressing about?
     
    Hokiegrad1993 likes this.
  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 2, 2018

    With rules like that, you are much better off subbing elsewhere. You didn't know these kiddos to do more than a basic body count.
     
  6. Lils90

    Lils90 Rookie

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    I just hope I get to continue subbing and this isn't something that gets me kicked off the list :(.
     
  7. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Feb 3, 2018

    Admin should never let a sub take kids on excursion alone. That’s crazy! It’s hard enough to manage a classroom as a sub much less take them anywhere!
     
  8. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Feb 3, 2018

    I'm so sorry this happened to you. The school was enormously unfair in having you take these kids off property. And the child who left should be facing consequences! She is not innocent in this.
    We can't know if you would be in trouble over this. You'll have to see. However, they may ask if you did a head count regularly AFTER leaving the room to go to the rec center. If you had, then one of your subsequent counts would have shown a missing child.
    Please update us and let us know how it turns out.
     
  9. Lils90

    Lils90 Rookie

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    SO I reviewed the CA and there is a clause that says OT's are not to be asked by Principals or fellow administrators to transport students.....doesn't specify what type of transportation, but I technically transported students by walked them there. Would you say that is something to be able to firmly stand on?
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 3, 2018

    Unless they specifically mentioned something, I wouldn't be making the assumption that you will be losing your position because of this event. Stuff like this honestly happens all the time, even with the regular classroom teachers. 12 year olds and kids around that age especially are prone to cutting out of class since they are testing the limits of authority at this age.

    As you mentioned, there are a lot of problems the school has in terms of their procedures as well, that would lead to this behavior. 1. They shouldn't be asking subs to take kids on excursions. 2. The policy that kids can leave for lunch with no accountability for their attendance is a TERRIBLE policy that they should rethink. 3. Whenever on excursions, the student to adult ratio should be much lower. That's why on most field trips schools usually ask parents to volunteer so there is about 1 adult to every four or five students. Anymore than that, in a non-enclosed area (like a classroom where you can monitor the entry and exit of each student) is too difficult for most adults to keep track of.

    The student should absolutely be held accountable for her actions.

    But don't respond combatively no matter happens. In all likelihood, the incident will be forgotten. But if you do run into trouble and you are reprimanded, just apologize, thank them for the opportunity and move on. You don't want to make enemies this early in your career. Once you have some experience under your belt you may want to go to a union representative if you have one. (Heck, you may want to talk to one now just to get the lay of the land.) But again, don't get defensive at this point. You don't know if they are actually going to do anything.

    Some questions I have:
    1. Is "supply" another word for substitute teacher where you work?
    2. Is 7th grade considered elementary where you work? Here's it's typically regarded as secondary school.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  11. Lils90

    Lils90 Rookie

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    Thank you so much for your advice and reassurance! It was greatly appreciated! Yes, supply is another term used for substitute where I am from, and 7th grade is still considered elementary :). I completely agree about not making a mountain out of a mole hill by pursuing this, I just more so want to feel confident that I have something to stand on IF things go in that direction. Frankly, I am hoping that this goes away without incident, and I walk away wiser when it comes to trips and my obligations as a substitute teacher. I can tell you that if given the chance I don't believe I will be substituting at this school any longer-WAY too many liabilities, especially for a teacher just starting in their career. No need to put myself through that kind of stress again.
     
  12. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Feb 5, 2018

    These students sound ridiculous. No wonder the regular teacher called out and didn't want to take them! Even if that isn't true they should have cancelled the rec trip.
     
  13. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    Feb 5, 2018

    I had a very similar situation happen when I was early in my subbing jobs.,. I ended up getting relieved from that campus, sigh. I too felt I was in "over my head" so to speak. I was in a severe car accident years back and broke both legs. It is difficult for me to do stairs, extremely difficult and nearing the impossible. When I was working in the middle school (4th and 5th grade) one year, I was asked to chaperone the class to a pep rally across town at the high school football stadium. Our class ended up sitting near the very top (I should have spoke up and said I can't do stairs).

    Shortly after the pep rally ended, I am trying to line up my class and they run off while I am still attempting to navigate the stairs of the bleachers. Thankfully, another teacher had them corralled and waiting for me at the gate. I finally spoke to the principal once we got back to campus, and she and I mutually agreed, that I would not pick up a sub job if it involved a field trip.

    I picked up a job 2 days later and receive a call that she was just going to go ahead and remove me from the campus list. It ends happily though, I am now in a full time floating/ building sub position at a high school with phenomenal admin and staff who love me.

    Sounds like the students' problems were in existence before you ever came along, I would find another place to work and quickly if you can. Good Luck
     

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