Tips on Middle School Subbing

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by teachin4ever, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Apr 12, 2008

    I need some advice from all you middle school teachers and subs.

    I haven't subbed at the middle school level at all this school year due to a really bad experience I had last school year. :unsure: However, I'm feeling more confident in my subbing abilities and am thinking about testing those waters again.

    When I sub elementary aged students, I have a reward system that I use to reward the students who made good choices while I was there. It works very well and I very rarely have a class that misbehaves. But it won't work for the middle school level, not only because of their age, but also because of the fact that I'll only have them for an hour!!

    So I'm looking for some ideas, tips, and tricks that I can use to make my day go by smoothly if I decide to head back to the middle school again. Any help you can offer me would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks in advance everyone!! :)
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Apr 12, 2008

    I've found that if I start out by stating my expectations to them first thing when they come in, and letting them know that I'll respect them if they respect me, then we'll get along just fine.
     
  4. sub&mom

    sub&mom Companion

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    Apr 13, 2008

    I understand you hesitation completely. I vividly remember the first time I subbed for middle school...it's intimidating, to say the least. I had a middle schooler at the time, and when I cam home, I gave her a big hug and said, I understand the stress you are under every day! True story!!!

    Anyway, it gets better each time you go back. I now sub at the middle school most often because there are alot of jobs available, and I've got a rep. for being good with this age level. I agree with smalltowngal about letting them know the expectations right off the bat. Start off strong, and you will feel out the class to see if you can ease up a bit. If they require you to settle them down over and over, then you need to stay strict throughout the period.

    Here are a few things I do for behavior management:
    -I don't talk over the students. I stand at the front of the room and ask for their attention. If they don't settle down I'll say, in a regular voice, "if you can hear me raise your hand now" and the raising of a couple hands makes the rest of the class think they missed something, and they usually get quiet. They'll start whispering, "what did she say?" and I just tell them that if they were quiet they'd have known, and I start in immediately with my expectations. One of which, is no talking while I am talking!
    -Reward them for following the expectations with things like 5 free minutes at the end of the period to chat quietly, take away a minute here and there if they act up. this works like a charm for me.
    -if they are just out of control and won't settle down, announce that you are DONE with trying to work with them, and you are now going to sit down and begin to write the note to the teacher about this period. and say how easy it will be to include any misbehavers in the note since you will be writing it now! You'll be shocked how this straightens them out!
    -Pink slip the worst ones. for me, it's a few chances with me, then out in the hall. If they continue to misbehave, I send them to the dean, or the VP with a note explaining their behavior, and BE SURE to put on the note, PLEASE DO NOT RETURN HIM/HER TO MY CLASS. and they'll have the rest of the pd. in the office.
     
  5. sub&mom

    sub&mom Companion

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    Apr 13, 2008

    a few other tips about middle school:
    -use a sign out sheet to help keep track of who's out of the room and when. (on more than one occasion I've been asked if any of my students were out of the classroom during this time and that time)
    -only let one student out at a time
    -don't let them abuse passes....be strict about giving them.
    -on fire drills grab the class list and take it out with you.


    And try to enjoy this age of kids. They are going through alot of changes during this time in their lives, and it causes some of them to act up and so on, but really, I've grown to love this age group. They need the strictness from a teacher at this age, but they also need to know you care. Some of the students that I have to write up, and send out in the hall, call me their favorite sub. I haven't figured out why exactly, but I think it's because they know I really care about them, and I'm dissappointed in their behavior, and they want to please me next time. I think you will find that each time you try it, it will get easier and you will feel more comfortable.

    GOOD LUCK!!!
     
  6. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Apr 15, 2008

    Smalltowngal and sub&mom:

    Thank you both so much for your replies and advice. I still have yet to accept a middle school assignment (none have been offered as of yet), but I'm feeling much more confident I'll do okay thanks to your wisdom!

    Have a wonderful day!!! :)
     
  7. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Apr 15, 2008

    Good luck on that first day!
     
  8. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Apr 15, 2008

    Before being hired, I also subbed for junior high. I actually liked it more than I thought! Especially this one class. I agree with the above posters. Just state your expectations, be consistent, and be firm. I did NOT like high school. They were so arrogant and rude.
     
  9. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Apr 15, 2008

    ^^ That's why I never sub high school.
     
  10. GlendaLL

    GlendaLL Aficionado

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    Apr 15, 2008

    I only sub for two high schools in my area. Generally, the students are very well-behaved, respectful, and cooperative. If they aren't, I know that the principals will give me all the support I need. Also, the other teachers help me out, if I need it.
     
  11. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I subbed at an alternative and juvenile high school and it wasn't too bad. But, when I subbed at a regular, normal high school, I got hurt on my first day and called the B word, which is farthest from the truth. I never went back. Oh, and they sent the student who hurt me right back to class!!!
     
  12. Ampage

    Ampage Rookie

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    Apr 15, 2008

    Ive done some observing at middle schools and subbed a few classes. They love to chat with each other. The biggest problem Ive ever have is with talking/chattering. I don't mind very much as long as they are doing work, and the volume isn't too loud (and I let the kids know that first thing) but if groups start talking too loud or aren't working, I give the group a warning. If they keep talking, I send them to different sides of the room (and make them turn their desks towards the wall if possible) I tell the rest of the class if they continue to abuse the noise level or choose not to work, they will have to work in silence for the rest of the period.

    If after that point they keep talking or are not working, it might be time to send kids out. (but so far its never come to that for me). Best thing is to try to make a friend with a regular teacher that you can send kids to. Ive heard it looks bad for subs sometimes if you have to send kids to the office...

    With passes, if they need the bathroom, I have them show me some completed work before they can go. Cuts down on kids wanting to go just to miss out on class. But definitely only one at a time.

    That's all I can say so far. (Would welcome any feedback from more experienced teachers/subs)

    yup, saw that today at my first high school job as a matter of fact. (except for the AP/Honors classes, they were awesome)

    Strategies for middle school do not necessarily work for high school. (I'm still trying to work on mine...)
     
  13. GlendaLL

    GlendaLL Aficionado

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    Apr 15, 2008

    When we moved to this area a year and a half ago, I went to an urban high school. I felt like I was thrown to the wolves - with NO backup at all. They are the only school that uses the "feedback" option with Aesop. So, I gave them some feedback - telling them that I was cancelling all of my future days that I was supposed to sub for them and that I'd never be back. And - I haven't. (OH - I received no response to my feedback.)
     
  14. sub&mom

    sub&mom Companion

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    Apr 15, 2008

    yer welcome!

    Let us know when you do take a MS assignment.

    I wanted to add...don't be afraid to move the students around. Seperate them if needed, as Ampage stated. Thats a thing I use on a pretty much daily basis! Works like a charm!
     
  15. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Apr 16, 2008

    I agree with what everyone said about high school...it's not my thing either! I'm only certified to teach through 8th grade anyway, so I don't see the point in making contacts (or headaches!) in the high schools.

    Thanks again for the advice, guys!!
     
  16. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Apr 18, 2008

    Although every group will be different, some other things to consider are:

    -don't use primary strategies to keep their attention - I had one sub in my grade 7 class just recently who had previously been a primary teacher but is now retired. She spoke to them in that sing-song voice all day, gave them stuffed animals to hold and marshmallows to eat when they were good and gave them 'stars' on the board as a group for good behaviour. When I came back, they said that it was the worst day ever because they were being treated like little children all day!

    -challenge them! They enjoy being challenged and often that can keep them focused. Come prepared with things like brain teasers or challenging group games in case the teacher didn't leave enough work, which can happen.

    -be on the ball and let them know you are. Pay attention to everything that's going on, try to catch on to names as you listen to them talk, be wise to their pranks and just be one step ahead of them. When you catch on to something call them on it, but in a friendly "you're busted" sorta way, but don't make too big a deal out of the small stuff. They will respect you better for it and if you come back to that class, you will soon begin to build a rapport with them.

    If you have a special talent, share it. Things such as art, or tricks in math, etc...anything out of the ordinary. It will keep their short attention spans focused--they seem to need constant action at this age, especially the boys and you will direct their energy better this way before they have a chance to get mischevious. I had one sub come in and she taught my class how to do origami. I didn't mind as when I have a sub, I give work that is useful and relevant, but that will be straightforward for the sub to deliver. I subbed in middle school before getting my own contract and I always allow for the possibility that the kids may not cooperate, so if what I leave doesn't get done, I'm usually okay with that. IMO, that day is all about survival for a sub and whatever it takes to make the day go well is fine. In the case of the origami, they seemed to enjoy the change of pace and it broke up the day for both sub and students.

    -Lastly, don't let them con you. If they tell you something that is contrary to what has been left, brush it off and stick to the given plan - they can be amazing con artists when they think they can get away with it.

    -If you feel that things might be falling apart, try reading to them. Things like short mysteries, or if you have a short story anthology that you can carry with you. It will usually settle them, especially of the story is a good one.

    Have fun!
     
  17. mikaelab

    mikaelab Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2008

    I am a middle school teacher and have had a lot of subs work in my classroom. I think that the most important thing is that you should let the kids know that you are the boss. Most teachers stress the importance of respecting subs with their kids, and will reinforce this if they misbehave (when they get back). Some kids don't realize that subs will of course leave notes for teachers and/or talk to them. Feel free to remind them of that. And remember that teachers really do appreciate lots of notes about the behavior of the kids so that they can follow through. This helps us to better manage our kids.

    You may be tempted to try to befriend the kids. Keep in mind that being their friend is not your job. All too often I return to find that my plans have not been followed because a sub just chatted with the kids the entire time. Oftentimes this is done because subs aren't quite sure how to handle kids at this age - who seem like little adults yet are still children. When the kids see that you mean business about getting things done, they generally fall in line. And that means that you will probably be asked back! It is oftentimes the subs that my kids say they don't like that I ask back, because I know that means that the kids have been made to accomplish the days' tasks without too much messing around or free time.

    I LOVE middle schoolers. They can be crazy, but remember that they are still little kids trying to find their grownup selves. They are testing the waters. Have fun with them, think of their awkwardness as a gift instead of something to be worried about.

    Oh, one more thing...you are right that you only have them for an hour, so don't worry about having too integral a reward system. You may end up spending most of your time trying to make it happen.
     
  18. mikaelab

    mikaelab Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2008

    Sorry, one more thing. When I have subs I tell them to never let my kids out of the room, unless it is an obvious emergency (blood, puke, etc.). Most kids have the bladder capacity to hold it for 50 minutes, and too many use subs as an excuse to get out of class. Tell every kid no the first time. Tell them to wait for 10 minutes and check in then. Most of the kids will forget they asked, or will realize that you aren't just going to let them do whatever they like.
     
  19. alrober2

    alrober2 Rookie

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    May 12, 2008

    Err...4 hours later and still thinking about it

    I am in my second week substitute teaching at the schools in my area. I have only been picking middle and high school sub jobs to gain experience since I hope to teach English the next school year. What I have noticed with middle school is that they like to seem bad or like they don't care, however when it comes down to it they really fear the consequences that follow the bad behavior. Well that was until today.

    Today I was in an 8th grade honors math class and the day was going smoothly until 5th period. The teacher forewarned me that this group was talkative. They were beyond that. Everyone in this class would not keep their mouth shut, and at one point I could no longer let them quietly discuss the math problems. There was a group of four boys that sat together and they were talking, disrupting, and just plain rude. I had to move two of them to the other sides of the room, and I asked a boy (who was the only one in the class not talking) to tell me who the boys names were. I knew that if I asked the boy who seemed well behaved he would tell me the truth. So I asked him and one of the boys shouted out, "why did you ask him? was it because he is white?" I said I asked him because he is the only one in the class who is being quiet. Another shouted out "white people are snitches" Everyone erupted with laughter, and I felt horrible that this good student was getting the brunt of what I had asked. I was so upset at that point. I told him he needed to be quiet and not say another word. I told the whole group that they needed to quiet down and stop talking. I then told them I have asked you over 6 times and will not ask again.
    One of the disruptive boys asked if I planned to become a teacher because he had some pointers for me. I told him to sit down and do his work.

    After that I really thought I was going to have to call the AP or front office. The only reason why I did not was because our sub trainer said do not send a kid to the AP since you could be placed on a do not call list or the administration will think you can't control the kids.

    I know that you are supposed to have respect for the students and they will have respect for you. I did that. I came in and told them what had to be done; I answered their questions, and did not disrespect them. My authority, rules, and expectations have worked in all of the other classes I have been in so far.

    I am pretty new at this but I have always been able to maintain a talkative class. I am not sure what I should have done differently, and if anyone can tell me how you would have handled it I would really appreciate it. :help:
     
  20. smearnov

    smearnov New Member

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    Jun 8, 2008

    Your experience is not unusual for a middle school sub. Firstly, the student's wild behavior didn't spring into existence the day you walked into the classroom. Secondly, never hesitate to call in the AP. if administrators don't already know, they need to be made aware, and held responsible for what's brewing in their facility. And lastly, it's a myth that a sub will be viewed as incompetent, or won't be called back if he/she calls for administrative help. In fact, a competent administration appreciates a sub who acts decisively, refuses to submit to chaos, and is confident enough to ask for help.
     
  21. purplezinnia

    purplezinnia Rookie

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    Jun 8, 2008

    AmPage, although I'm an education para, subs who don't follow teacher instructions left in the sub notes are the ones who are not asked back. At my school, subs are instructed to call the office extension for help.
    My teachers have placed 5 subs on the do-not-call list because they failed to teach the lesson, which meant the kids lost an instructional day. Other reasons subs are placed on the list are being late, being rude and disrespectful to staff and students, and letting the kids run the show.
     
  22. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I truly hope you left notes about what was said! If you didn't know who the boys were because you had no seating chart, I would DEFINITELY have mentioned that as well. It's like trying to see the class through smudged and scuffed glasses.
     
  23. smearnov

    smearnov New Member

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    Jun 9, 2008

    The most effective AP intervention is when the AP is accompanied by a sheriff. Respect and love quickly blossom in the wildest of classrooms. My main "peace" of advice in this situation is when the AP asks you to point out the main culprits, you explain that they were all so bad it'd be impossible to pick any one or two. After an appropriate amount of threats The AP and sheriff withdraw, leaving you in a win win situation:You made your point, you have a quiet manageable classroom, and the major disruptors are indebted to you for not turning them in (this time) As news spreads of your resolve the rest of the day should be smooth.
    The above only holds for schools where the Admin is respected. if you insist on working in a school where the Admin is not respected, bring your own sheriff.
     
  24. njteach41

    njteach41 Middle School Social Studies Teacher

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    Jun 11, 2008

    definitely be upfront with them. let them know that you want to be fair and have fun but that they need to show you respect and do the work that has been assigned to them. just be easy going but show them you want/deserve the respect from the moment they walk into the room.
     
  25. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    Jun 13, 2008

    I agree that you did the right thing! I AM BY NO MEANS PREGEDES (sp?) AT ALL!!!!!!! that being said I think a have a lot of students that are black tell me that I was just because I got on to them on not the white students. I am being very honest when I say this to you and every student out there I only punish the ones who are bad it does not matter , white,black ,mexican, spanish w/e. I have had some of my best students be black and then some of the most behavior problems are the white ones. BTW I am white. So Anyway trust me behavior can happen no matter the age or race.
     

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