When subbing goes wrong

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by BerniceBobs, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. BerniceBobs

    BerniceBobs Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2009

    I am posting this here because many of us look at subbing as a kind of job audition and so when it goes badly, it's quite upsetting and a bit demoralizing.
    Despite doing my best, I had a terrible day of subbing at a middle school last week.
    Much of this had to do with the teacher. She was still in the classroom when I arrived at seven-thirty. She was frantically writing up lesson plans. The teacher wanted the students to make a brochure but she gave neither me or the students directions on how to complete it. It was hard to know what she wanted. The other lesson plans were labor intensive (on my part) complex and not very well organized. To make matters worse, she wrote on the board, "Be kind to the sub" when she knew what my name was.
    The plans were also predicated upon the necessity that the students would be quiet and well behaved as they needed to hear my instructions. The students were horrible; they were rude, disrespectful and would not follow directions. I got hit in the head with the white board eraser and no one would fess up as to who the culprit was. Some students made fun of my clothes (I dressed up--the teachers there all wear jeans and T-shirts). The administration would not come in despite my calling in for help.

    If it was just three or four students, it would have been fine but the entire class was out of control. Each period was worse than the last. This school has a terrible reputation and most most subs in this district refuse to sub there. Now I can see why. Given the economy, I am not in a position to turn down work right now.
    I left that day feeling like a failure even though there was really not much I could do to make that day a success. I am sure the teacher blames me for the brochures not being up to par and for her classes being out of control. The truth is subs get blamed for everything that goes wrong--it's a humbling experience at times. I wrote the teacher a note and a follow up email about what transpired but she never wrote back. If were her I would have apologized for the behavior of my students.
    The problem is that any bad day I experience as a sub is on me--this is my reputation at stake.
    We are well versed with what to do as a sub but maybe we need to circulate a list for teachers:

    1. Do write clear lesson plans which can be followed easily. Be sure to have a rubric and clear directions for the students as well as for your guest teacher.
    2. Speaking of guest teachers, do not call your guest teacher a "sub" to the students as it has an undermining effect on them.
    3. If your students were rude to your guest teacher they should suffer some consequences and you should send a note of apology to your guest teacher. Your students' behavior is a reflection of your own classroom management.


    Anyone else have any suggestions for this list?
     
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  3. Exclaimation Po

    Exclaimation Po Habitué

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    Sep 8, 2009

    I always left a list of the potential disruptive students, the ones who could be trusted, and rooms students could be sent if they were disruptive. I have a template of sorts (and there's an example in my portfolio).

    I would suggest not turning your back on the students at this particular school*. If something needs to be written on the board, pick the quietest student in the room. Bring your own back up lesson if the students are really bad. If there's campus security/supervisors see if one can stop by the classroom.


    * I was talking to a teacher at a district recruitment who told me that the district she was trying to leave had a policy (yes, a district policy) that teachers were never to turn their back to the class. They'd had an incident where a student had an issue with one of her teachers (regular, not guest) and came to school one day with her backpack full of bricks. When the teacher's back was turned the girl hit her in the head with the backpack. I'm sooooo not every applying to THAT district!!!
     
  4. ahodge79

    ahodge79 Companion

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    Sep 8, 2009

    wow that teacher sure was expecting a lot.. whenever I couldn't be there, I would leave the easiest stuff! Try not to feel bad about it, take it as a learning experience to be better prepared next. It's just terrible the admin wasn't supportive!
     
  5. l8ybugmom

    l8ybugmom Groupie

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    Sep 8, 2009

    :hugs: Bernice, sorry you had such a bad day subbing. This past school year, I subbed in a fourth grade class that was horribly out of control. The kids were pulling each other's pants down. Some were getting out of their seat regularly, sound foul words, yelling, very little work was done even by the one's I perceived as being good students, etc. I sent three to the office for the pantsing (that's what they called it) and they kept one (the worst one) but then sent him right back when he promised to be good. He came back worse than ever. I just didn't even bother with it anymore. I tried to carry out the lessons but it was just busy work--page upon page of review math work and a writing assignment. The work offended me as a teacher because I could teach a new lesson or something and the work made the students disrupt even more. They were promised no more long writing assignments (a week or so before they had just completed their state standardized test so you know they had had it with writing). At lunch, I stayed in the room and cried. I couldn't eat because I was so upset and was seriously thinking about going to the office and telling them to get someone else in there but I knew I'd never be called back to sub there or anywhere else. Plus, I wanted a job eventually. I stuck it out just as you did. Obviously, I can only blame the teacher for having bad classroom management and for administration for not backing the teacher up.

    The only thing I would add to the list is that just because you have to miss a day of school, does not mean that your students need to miss a day of learning. There is a time and a place for review, however, not five math pages of it. If you promise your students they won't be doing writing assignments again for the remainder of the year, stick to it even with a sub. We are trained to teach...not to babysit.
     
  6. BerniceBobs

    BerniceBobs Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2009

    Thanks everyone for your useful comments.
    Exclamation, you are correct. Like the ocean, one should never turn one's back on the class. I had to pull down the screen for the overhead projector and that's when the eraser hit me.
    That must have been a premeditate act because that student reacted fast!
     
  7. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Sep 8, 2009

    I once had a small class of middle school sped students literally standing on their chairs, jumping, and one even called 911 on phone that was hidden in the closet. The worse thing I did was let them see me get flustered - that seemed to escalate their behavior. I left their teacher a note describing their behavior, I'm sure she wasn't overly surprised. But it was a nightmare. Now I'm thankful they didn't throw things at me.
    Don't worry about blowing a job audition ... you really wouldn't want to work at that school ... remember, they are the ones with the bad reputation.
     
  8. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2009

    I can certainly sympathize with a bad day as a sub. I had one bad day the year before I started teaching. However, I wouldn't assume that a class behaving poorly for a sub means the classroom teacher has poor classroom management. There are many issues involved in a class behaving badly and the quality of the sub certainly is part of it. I have also held kids accountable for poor behaviour when I was away only to have my VP tell me they believe the kids' version of events. Broad generalizations about classroom teachers are unreasonable just as broad generalizations about subs are not reasonable either. As for the word "sub", in my district it is short for substitute teacher and I don't think that is all that different from guest teacher, but if the word changed in our board I would certainly not have an issue with it.
     
  9. dmbfan36

    dmbfan36 Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2009

    While I certainly do not leave page upon page of busy work when I know I am going to be out I also don't leave new material for the sub to teach. I never know who is going to be in my room and while some of you on this forum might be capable of teaching the lesson there are just as many subs out there who are not capable. Why leave something new that I might just have to go over from the beginning anyway?
     
  10. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Sep 8, 2009

    UGH! I'm sorry you had a bad day! I've had days like that, and that was because the teacher didn't leave good plans, her class was out of control, and there were no procedures in place, Oh, and this was kindergarten.

    Sorry. As you do more subbing, you'll soon learn whose class/school to avoid.
     
  11. amaryllis

    amaryllis Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2009

    OI VEY! Is this sort of thing usual? If some kid smacked me in the head with a chalkboard eraser, I'd be inclined to make them eat the stupid thing (I'm half kidding, but only half).

    What on earth do you seriously do to manage this sort of thing? I might be the one calling 911. Kids jumping on chairs? Pantsing each other? Are these human children?

    SO sorry you dealt with this. May I never have to. But some of us are good at the bad schools, right? Anyone?

    No seriously, what do you DO in this type of absolute mutiny?
     
  12. Jlyn07

    Jlyn07 Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2009

    This is why I don't want to sub. I know that all days aren't like this but is $75 really worth all that stress? Not for me.

    I'm sorry you had a rough day but your list of suggestions for the teacher is a great idea!
     
  13. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    Sep 8, 2009

    If I found out my students were acting that way for anyone they would be getting a written letter of apology hand-delivered by the culprits. :eek:

    I had to do this last year when I found out how my students were acting on the bus. Fixed matters.

    I'm sooooo sorry for all of you that have had bad times!
     
  14. BerniceBobs

    BerniceBobs Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2009

    Thanks everyone for your words of support.
    Please know that was an usual situation--I do not want to scare anyone off of subbing! Usually, it's a delightful experience.
    I did not mean to generalize about the students' behavior being a reflection of the teacher. I have just found that when I sub for a strict teacher who has clear expectations, the sub job goes quite smoothly. Also, I should have included the administration into my analysis. Schools that get a bad reputations among subs generally lack strong administrative support. I do think either the principal or the vice-principal should make an apperance when there is a substitue teacher at their school.
    The reason I think we need to stop referring the term "subs" in front of students is I think it elicits disrespect while I think guest teacher has a much more dignified tone to it.
    It's one of those " a rose by any other name would not smell the same" sort of thingie.
     
  15. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Sep 8, 2009

    I have been there! And I returned a second day! Bad idea! The teacher across the hall actually came to my rescue- so embarrassing!- but I soon learned that was commonplace for that class (7th grade). On the way out I told the secretary not to call me again and she told me they could not get any sub to return!

    Don't feel too bad. You will have good days too. Forget it and move on, that is the beauty of subbing!
     
  16. ShadesofGray

    ShadesofGray Companion

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    Sep 8, 2009

    I can't even believe the experience you had! I am so sorry!

    I just wanted to add my :2cents: on the situation. Since I have worked as a leave replacement and a per dium sub, I've seen this from both perspectives. I've learned it's not worth it to give the sub brand new material to teach. As much as I know what it's like to be a sub, I've had wayyyy too many experiences where I had to go back and reteach the lesson that I left the sub to teach. I always gave some sort of a review, but did it in a fun way so the kids aren't bored and more likely to act out.

    On the "guest teacher" comment, I know a teacher that would tell her students that she was related to the sub! Not that it's great to lie, and not good if you're out a lot, but it definitely helps! She teaches 2nd grade, so at that age they're still young and more likely to believe it. In that building they often had the same few subs, so it worked out well. It's cute to see how the kids really want to be good and impress your "relative"!

    Another idea I got (one that I plan to use in my future classroom) is a year-round motivation tool for kids to be good whenever there's a sub in the room. This was done in a 4th grade classroom. Starting from the beginning of the year, the students have to try and spell out "We did it!" (you could pick any phrase). Whenever there is a sub in a room, the students have to try to be good so they can earn the next letter in the phrase (for example, the first time they have a sub and they're good they get the W). When they have completed the phrase, they earn some kind of a party or celebration.
     
  17. I teach science

    I teach science Rookie

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    Sep 9, 2009

    Oh what a terrible day! I subbed last year and had a girl take a swing at me. It was almost the last day of school, and she just didn't see the need to do the work that the teacher (who I know) left for the class - nothing happened to her - no consequences. But then this administration had no backbone - no policies on tardies, attendance, attitude toward teachers. Yep, the students ran the school... though I hear from a friend that they are trying some new policies this year. I will not sub at this school unless I know the teacher.
     
  18. fratermus

    fratermus Companion

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    Sep 9, 2009

    I've had two bouts of "animal children" behaviour, and they were both at the same school. I don't accept jobs there anymore.
     
  19. BerniceBobs

    BerniceBobs Comrade

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    Sep 10, 2009

    All I can say is that this last year of substitute teaching, either short term, or as a LTS, has given me a whole new respect for substitute teachers. You have to go in there, head held high, armed with loads of confidence and fortitude. Again, no one knows how hard it is until they've tried it. I know I didn't! I always look at it as mini job auditions which is why it's so disheartening when I experience a bad day as a sub.
    Shades of Grey, I agree with you. I think leaving a substitute, whom you don't know, overly ambitious lesson plans is a mistake.
    I think there should be a sense of of automatic pilot built into the teacher's sub plans.
     

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