What Can You Do When Students Don't Care?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by jbearnolimits, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. jbearnolimits

    jbearnolimits Rookie

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    Feb 12, 2015

    I have been a sub in a few schools (some had a reputation as being rough). Normally I have no problems with student conduct and can bring a class under control. But today I had a couple of classes that really made me question humanity.

    The moment the bell rang for the students to come in they began to come into the room yelling, excited to see a sub, dancing around, and even climbing on counters. I spoke up for them to take their seats and remain quiet. But there was not even a show that they acknowledged I was even in the room.

    So I began to follow my discipline plan (a 5 step plan including warnings, extra work, and eventually being sent to the office). Before the first 10 minutes had gone by I had already sent 3 students to the office, told some to sit in different seats (which they refused), and given warnings of having the principle come to the room to remove some.

    Nothing I said or did mattered to them and they continued blatant defiance, to the point of walking out of the room, and even made threats against my physical person and my job. One student even took their cell phone out to call their mom and faked tears telling her mother I had cussed her out (which was completely false since I remained as professional as I could).

    Eventually several students were removed by the administrator and put into other rooms. There only remained about 5 students in the room by the end of class. Then the next class came in and began the same thing.

    I asked the administraitor to either have someone sit in the class for a while with me (since the students became quiet with him), or to remove those who were acting the same way. I was told that it was my fault that the students were acting this way and that if I couldn't handle it they would need to find someone else.

    So after seeing that I had no support I said they needed to find someone else. At which point I was ordered to get my things, leave, and that I would never be allowed back at the school in front of the students. Then he walked out and left me to get my things and walk out with no one in the class to oversee them.

    Now I believe the students listened to him because he had the actual authority to suspend and give full discipline. But they knew all I could do is send them to him.

    Ok...enough back story. Here is my question. If the students refuse to even acknowledge you are there and don't care about being disciplined (since they even asked me to send them to the office), what can a sub do?

    All I knew to do was get the admin to help in that situation...but what do you do when they refuse to do anything?
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Feb 12, 2015

    I'm not sure what you should have done, because I don't feel like I have enough information about the situation. I don't know what you were trying to get the students to do in class, what age/grade you're talking about, exactly what they behavior looked like, or your full five step plan. All of those things would impact how I would suggest you handle the situation, and without knowing, it's hard to say. I will say, however, that I can understand why the principal responded as he did. It sounds like your plan led you to send students to the principal's office for nothing more than defiant behavior. In my school, that's considered classroom-managed behavior, not office-managed behavior. It's up to the teacher or sub to deal with the behavior without sending the student to the office. It sounds like you made too much work for the principal and other teachers who had to take in some of the students. It's not surprising that they didn't want you to stay.
     
  4. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    Feb 12, 2015

    Kids always act crazy with a sub, but what you experienced was abnormal. I would have met them in the hallway, forced them to get in a quiet line, gaining control over them in the sight of other teachers who supposedly are able to assist if they are outright defiant and made them enter quietly. Perhaps the issue is that some kids were surprised to see you so they acted up and all remaining kids come into a room already thrown into chaos....
     
  5. jbearnolimits

    jbearnolimits Rookie

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    Feb 12, 2015

    Thanks for the reply. I am more than willing to learn, which is why I am posting here. My intention is not to vent, it is to gain an understanding of how to handle this type of problem in the future.

    To answer your questions: it was 6th grade. All I was trying to do was get the students in their seats and quiet enough that I could begin the class. At first they acted as though they didn't listen and continued to run around the room, yell at each other, and some of them were even in the beginning of arguments that would no doubt have led to violence.

    Of 27 students there were 5 who sat in their seats and were quiet. The rest continued this behavior.

    So this brings me to step 1 of my discipline plan: I gave a warning of failure to sit in their seats and become quiet. That warning was that I would remove all privileges of speaking altogether and they would have a note written to their teacher about their behavior so that she could deal with them about it on her return.

    They acted as though they did not care. Some even told me "Go ahead and see if we care!" So I wrote the note and informed them of it.

    Obviously step 1 was not enough. So on to step 2:

    I warned them of extra work that would count as a grade. Now I admit that this is obviously a failed plan due to the fact that I had not even been able to establish any kind of authority or care in them from before they even walked in the room. Obviously step 2 resulted only in a continuation of this.

    On to step 3: I brought in the teacher from next door. They told me I should let the students talk (which I have no problem with a reasonable noise level, but blatant defiance going along with it is something else). So I informed the teacher that I hadn't even had a chance to NOT let them talk.

    So her response was to take 1 of the students known for trouble out of the room while letting the rest continue. Obviously step 3 failed.

    On to step 4: By this time the level of disrespect was getting WAY out of hand and there was a threat of violence with several students in different areas screaming and threatening each other.

    So I did the best I could to send them individually to the office with an escort. This got them in their seats at least. But only for a brief period of time. They continued their behavior. At this point I was sending them to the office too much. So I decided it was time for step 5.

    I called the admin to come to the room.

    When he arrived he told me to send them to different teachers rooms. While he was there they were quiet and in their seats. The moment he walked out and the door shut it began again.

    So I began sending them to other teachers rooms one by one. During this time several of them decided they wanted to just walk out of the room on their own. Some of them told me that they would not do anything I told them and that they wanted me to go ahead and send them to the office. Some even asked what they needed to do to be sent there.

    By the end of the class I only had 5 students left in the room and I had to call the office several times to inform them of students wandering in the halls after they just walked out.

    By the way, the students who did go to the office were just sent back to me and they continued to act this way.

    And so the bell rang and another class came in...the exact same way and almost the exact same situation. Except this time I had one student physically slapping another down while the other was just sitting in their chair. Thankfully I was able to stop it by getting into a position between them (I know it may not have been the best but it is my first instinct to jump in front of the bus to save someone).

    At this point I had taken names of half the class who were acting in total defiance (including what I wrote in my first post and then some). So instead of sending them all up I called the admin once again. That is where the first post comes in.

    I know this was a lot of information but I really want to make a difference in the lives of these kids and if there is something I could personally change then I am all for it. Thanks.
     
  6. jbearnolimits

    jbearnolimits Rookie

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    Feb 12, 2015

    Hmmm...this is a great thought. Since I stood in the door to greet them as I always do I noticed many of them notice that they had a sub and they began to become very excited and thrilled as though they knew what was going to happen.

    Perhaps if I see such behavior in the future it would be a good idea to not let them enter until they were under control. And being in the hall would no doubt help that with any other teacher in the area that is supposed to help.
     
  7. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Feb 12, 2015

    I hate bribery as much as the next person, but ... never mind, I was going to say hand out small pieces of candy to the people already sitting, but these days, you don't want to give out food at all without school approval.

    Be glad you're not there anymore. Life's too short to spend in an atmosphere like that.
     
  8. jbearnolimits

    jbearnolimits Rookie

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    Feb 12, 2015

    LOL, yeah. I called the school system when I got home and asked them to remove that school from a list of schools I would work at. It's really strange to me that this happened because I am having schools request me by name on referrals from other schools. So I believe I have something that makes me worth being a sub for that fact alone. But this school...wow. I have never had this happen.
     
  9. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Feb 12, 2015

    That is rough... I hope you have the option to stay far, far away! :eek: As a former sub, I've seen some things like what you described, coupled with little to no sub plans/schedule/classwork. Never quite that bad, though! You're better off somewhere else. I'd never want to work for admin who treated a sub like that.

    For me, bribery was a last resort that usually worked. Kids of any age usually get tired of the "strict teacher voice" and your constant demands to behave, and will cave in if you offer them a fun activity later. If they do something for X amount of time, they earn free time/recess/a movie. At that point, you're settling for basic survival rather than actual education. It's not always possible to do everything in the sub plans if the class is THAT badly behaved, and the teacher *should* understand.

    If you need help, you can leave the door open and explain that other teachers and admin can hear the noise through the door/walls. You can also call other teachers nearby for help -- the students likely know who they are, and will be more likely to listen. You can send the most disruptive students to a buddy class. You can also write down the names of kids who have good/bad behavior to give as a note to their teacher.

    Never lose your cool. Let nothing take you by surprise or get the best of you. Shouting is not good because it shows that you are not in control. Your voice and body language are your strongest tools to show control. Sarcasm and a bit of humor can also be good for deflecting bad behavior -- if you think the situation is funny, then the kids no longer have control (plus, they all secretly want a "cool teacher").

    Then again, sometimes all the tricks in the book won't work. Sometimes the kids (or the schools) have issues beyond anyone's control. In that case, pat yourself on the back for sticking through it as long as you did, and laugh at your horrific memories later. ;)
     
  10. jbearnolimits

    jbearnolimits Rookie

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    Feb 12, 2015

    Thanks, I believe very much in redirection and prevention so I like to have a plan. I have thought of taking a dvd to play as a reward for the class or as a reason for them to be silent. They could work easier while a dvd plays than they could with everyone screaming and trying to get into fights. I may have to do this.

    But there is one other thing that I think is rather funny about this whole topic. The school I went to is the one that students from my neighborhood go to. I guess it shouldn't have shocked me considering I have had my home broken into many times and the police patrol my neighborhood. So I should have known it was going to be like this.

    Only now I worry about those kids coming to my house lol!
     
  11. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Feb 13, 2015

    Depends on where you teach; maybe at the OP's school that is normal behavior and now the OP knows to avoid that school if they want to. At my school, many kids act like this when they enter the classroom - sub or no sub. Although, most kids that see a sub just walk away and cut class including when they have a long term sub.

    Also, I do not know what grade the OP was subbing for, but lining kids up does not fly everywhere especially for older kids. I doubt Jesus himself could get our kids to line up quietly in the hallway before entering class. The kids would just act a fool so they would never have to go in the room and do any work; I've seen new teachers try this method and Admin lets them know real quick that they need to get the kids in the classroom and out of the hallway ASAP.
     
  12. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Feb 13, 2015

    OP, this sounds like a school where Admin does nothing in regards to discipline because they can't effectively control the kids ether. These types of Admin use their power to suspend/give detention as a weapon but they know that this is not an effective long term solution to what is occurring in the classroom. They know that their threats often do nothing to really support the teacher in the classroom once they leave. Since teachers do not have the same authority to discipline as Admin, they are pretty much left to swim or drown on their own.

    In the future, I suggest that you document all student behavior with times and student names if possible to keep as a record. Write down everything including who completed the sub work, if any work was left, and who left the room if you know the students' names.

    And just CYA by being extra careful in what you do and say because kids today are QUICK to pull out their phone in class to secretly tape us. Some also like to call a parent in the middle of class to complain about a teacher "doing something to them":rolleyes: and to try to get the parent to come up to the school to handle the teacher.:rolleyes: Just CYA.

    Good luck at your next assignment!
     
  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 13, 2015

    Sounds like you are FAR better off being away from such an unsupportive school.
     
  14. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Feb 13, 2015

    Sometimes kids just do this. They go into full scale rebellion because they think they can. I'm disappointed that the admin wasn't more supportive of you as a sub because these kids will just do this to the next sub. I also feel like this is more like 8th grade behavior. The 6th graders are usually scared a bit more easily.
     
  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 13, 2015

    Thank goodness you don't ever have to go back to that school. The state of that classroom when faced with a sub is a poor reflection on that school, the principal, and their regular teacher who manages that classroom. You did a LOT and you did your best in the situation that was given to you.

    I just have a couple of thoughts that you can take or leave. I don't have much experience as a sub, so I don't know if they'll really help.

    1. It sounds like you showed your hand too early, and that your only real form of recourse is to send them to the principal. I would venture to guess that students from this class get sent to the principal often and don't care. The alternative would be to have more smaller consequences such as sending them to a corner of the room, calling home (or calling the principal) and having them explain their behavior, etc. Save the principals office for getting rid of the key trouble-makers and not the small fry.

    2. You said the behavior problems started as soon as they entered. Maybe in the future if you suspect something similar might happen, stop them all at the door, and wait for them to quiet down, and tell them to line up. Explain the rules and procedures of how you would like them to enter the classroom, and have someone repeat it back to you. Have them do it, if it doesn't work practice it again.

    3. Increase your like-ability by not letting your frustration show. I find that acting sort of detached about their behavior proves to them that their behavior is not going to throw you off-kilter, and get negative attention from you. You're just going to follow your consequence plan.

    4. The teacher who said "just let them talk" was completely wrong, and again reflects poorly on the environment and atmosphere of that school. If a class is behaving poorly, they should lose the privilege of talking and enter silent mode.

    5. Remove your key troublemakers immediately. There are always ring leaders, that make up about 5-10% of the classroom. 30-50% of the classroom or more just follow along with the ring-leaders and make more of a headache. The rest will usually listen to what you say and actually want to learn. You need to get the fence sitters on your side and prove to them that they would much rather be a functioning part of your class and have fun in it than be kicked out or have to call their parents. For this you need to be strict, but likeable. As a sub, you may need to remove the troublemakers' influence first by sending them to work in another classroom, sending them to the principals, or even a time-out corner separated from view of the rest of the classroom, whatever. You can leave them there as long as you like, but the idea is to remove their influence from the classroom as you replace it with your own. When and if they come back, they will find a classroom totally against them and for you. This will cause them to simmer down.

    I would spend some time (maybe out in the hall as you're getting them ready to enter) to observe them and see who the ring leaders are. Sometimes they're not the loudest kids and most bad behaved. Sometimes they're the kid who is whispering while giving you the sneaky looks, and he's telling his friend to do something stupid which he will because he knows who he can control in the classroom.

    I hope this helps.
     
  16. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Feb 13, 2015

    BE careful with DVDs. In our school, even regular teachers cannot show anything that has not been previewed and approved by administrators.
     
  17. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Feb 14, 2015

    It sounds like this lazy numbskull of an administrator cut his own nose off to spite his face. You're not missing out on anything by staying away from this dump.
     
  18. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Feb 15, 2015

    Yep. And - if he made his declaration where the students could see what was going on, he just gave so much power to those students. They're start saying they got the last sub "fired" and act up worse next time.
     
  19. jbearnolimits

    jbearnolimits Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2015

    Yes, and this is actually exactly what he did. Then he told me not to say another word to the students in front of them and walked out. As I began to walk out of the room myself, the students laughed and clapped. I am sure they believe they had made me lose my job.

    And that may have been the worst feeling. Not that I hated being degraded in front of the students, but that ALL teachers had been degraded in the same moment.

    I also noticed the job was posted 2 days before (normally jobs go in 30 seconds). So no sub was willing to take the job. This is a fact I was informed of by another teacher there. They told me that the behavior of the students was the reason they couldn't find subs.

    Personally I believe it was the behavior of the staff. Because if it was just the kids I would have dealt with the issues and stayed. But when I found out exactly how little support I had...well I can only do so much.
     
  20. jbearnolimits

    jbearnolimits Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2015

    Thanks for this thought. I was thinking about the educational DVDs that can be rented from the library for free here. But I didn't stop to consider this. It may not be the best option. Thanks for the warning.
     

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