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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

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Sasha Shelmer's picture
Sasha Shelmer
substitute trying to work in Minnesota

I tried to search through the Edutopia site to find blogs on management for subs. There were some blogs about frustrated teachers. I am at the point where I don't know if it is me or just the substitute "animal" itself. However, I am highly trained, and experienced in working with smaller groups teaching music and ELL. But when I am put in a classroom of anywhere from 15-25 elementary students, the same things keeps happening. I have only been subbing about two weeks, but each classroom is a struggle. I meet the students, get their names, have an intimate circle discussion, engage each student in discussion, and then attempt to teach the materials that have been left. Inevitably, the students begin to not listen, and start to talk to each other. Then, when prompted to be quiet, they respond, but eventually come back with mimicing me, and telling each other to be quiet. It is the help I don't need. They seem to think they are the teacher!!! I have had instances where they actually will start to go to objects in the room and begin to manipulate them (teaching tools) as if they are teaching the lesson to each other. This only leads to more noise. I now have visions of my own classroom where it is a total disaster, with students throwing things and screaming! It has almost gotten to this point a couple of times. There really is no support for subs. I had one office tell me the wrong way to use the phone to call for help. When I tried, I was pushing the HOLD button??? (THE LOWER BUTTON ON THE RIGHT-THEY SAID).

So, even when I can get the class to "eat out of my hand" for short periods of time, they still seem to want to be the teacher so badly that they go overboard and start verbalizing like crazy, which then leads to physical actions that are not acceptable. I previously thought that I would be a great teacher, who was good at communicating with students and encouraging them to learn and think for themselves.

I don't know if it is me, or what. I am highly educated and have boxes of super lesson plans, ideas and games to share with a class. I am a talented muscian who would love to teach a class or orchestra students, rather than a room of elementary kids throwing bells and drums at each other.

I don't like to yell, I don't scream, but if the volume goes up in the room, how do I best lower it. I have tried lights out, ringing a bell, silent staring, lectures, removing priviledges, praise for good work, positive interventions....and, yes, raising my voice above the level of the student noise so that I can ask them to be quiet. Why is this a prompt to scream and yelL? I never sit down in the room, I constantly check with students. How can I get them to listen to directions? If they can't hear what they are supposed to do because they are talking, and they can't be told to be quiet because they will only mimic and get louder, what does anyone suggest? This is just insane, I can't ever imagine that students would revert to pre-school daycare type behaviors just because they have a substitute. It makes me think that I will never have the opportunity to teach anything because students won't listen to a word I am saying.

Hubert V. Yee's picture
Hubert V. Yee
social media and marketing manager of startup

Hi Sasha,

I think if you post this in the following sections it may be also helpful.

New Teacher Connections
http://www.edutopia.org/groups/bridges-first-years-practice

Edutopia Welcome Lounge
http://www.edutopia.org/groups/edutopia-welcome-lounge.

Classroom Management
http://www.edutopia.org/groups/classroom-management

Having worked with children in different capacities, being a substitute is extremely challenging. I have used countdown techniques and segmenting for group work or projects. Establishing a presence I think is key. That's the biggest challenge I think for substitutes.

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