Thursday, November 20, 2008

Adventures in Substitute Teaching

I've been substitute teaching for a few weeks now, and have come to a couple of conclusions.

1. Kids just don't behave well for subs. (yeah, I know... duhhhhhhhhhhh)

2. It's really hard to get the attention of 30+ people of any age when they are all talking at once without shouting.

3. Sometimes shouting works.

4. Subbing is hard, and I'm not sure it will get any easier unless I take a long-term job.

I subbed in a fairly at-risk school this past week. I was a remedial reading teacher to 7th graders. I know, I know. Luckily there is a full-time teacher's aide in the class. Her name was Mrs. T#$%^^&*&^%%$#. Completely unpronounceable, so everyone called her Mrs. T. She was a GODSEND, let me tell ya. It was complete and utter chaos, nearly the entire day. Mrs. T said that it's pretty much that way every day, which made me sad. I don't think more than 5 of the kids all day did any work, nor did they get anything out of any of the lessons. Mrs. T was tough on the kids, and sent quite a few of them packing to the Dean's office. One boy felt that the scolding he got was unwarranted (and I agreed, frankly), so he stopped working completely and sat in the corner with his head down and a scowl on his face. I tried to talk to him and say that just because he felt like he was picked on was no reason to get an F on the day's work and ruin his grade in the class. His assignment at the time was a creative writing one. I told him to write about how it feels to be picked on and unnecessarily punished. He ignored me.

Then there was a boy named Robert. He was part of the worst group in the worst class I had all day. Talking back, refusing to work, refusing to sit in his seat, picking fights with other kids, you name it. He was completely disruptive ALL PERIOD. Finally, Mrs. T sent him to the Dean's office. He immediately freaked out and said he'd be expelled if he went to the Dean's office one more time and to PLEASE give him a second chance. So, she did. About 2.5 seconds later (and that's generous), he was picking a fight AGAIN. So, she said that's it! She sent him to the Dean's office, ostensibly to be expelled. As he was leaving the class, he tore a piece of notebook paper, wrote something on it and handed it to me. With a lecherous wink, he whispered, "Call me." The note had his phone number on it! Remember, this is 7th grade. He's probably 14!!! AND he's being expelled, as we speak. I told divine hubby to watch out - he's got some competition! :)

Then there was another boy who has haunted me since I left the classroom. His name was David. He was unkempt, his shirt was dirty, and he had awful buck teeth. So bad, he honestly could not close his mouth. He sat by himself, did his work quietly and didn't hang out with the other troublemakers. As a matter of fact, they ignored him completely. His work was nearly illegible, and the way he wrote told me that he is probably a barely-functioning illiterate. He had such a look of sadness, it was palpable to me. I am not sure why, because he had no visible marks on him, but I have a feeling he lives with something terrible, like abuse. I just got that feeling from him. I tried to interact with him, but to absolutely no avail. He has stayed with me. I hope I'm wrong and he was having a hard day, or one of his parents was sick or something, but I just got a feeling of hopelessness from David.

This is the main problem with subbing. You just don't get to know the kids at all. And they don't get to know you. I could take a long-term position, but that would take away the flexibility I enjoy in being a sub. I don't know what the solution is, but at the moment, I've got the week off for Thanksgiving, so I think I'll worry about it next week!

1 comment:

Miz C (and Burton) said... have hit on the very reason I never subbed after I quit teaching. I'm not a morning person...nor do I have the finesse it takes to control the kids who are determined to disrupt. I'm sure it would be easier in San Angelo than in Vegas, but not easy enough. [S] My hat is off to you!!!!