Friday, October 27, 2006

"I Will Respect the Substitute Teacher"

This is my second year working as an elementary sub, but since I lived abroad for most of last year, I haven't really had that many assignments.
For the most part, it hasn't been nearly as traumatic as people would imagine. It's not easy, but I enjoy the challenge of winning the kids over.
Last week I had a very sweet bunch of second graders, but they would not SHUT UP. I nearly lost my voice by the end of the day, constantly shouting to be heard over the din of their constant chatter.
School ends around 3, and by 1:30 I had had it.
"That's IT" I screamed. Take out your notebooks and write 20 times: " 'I will respect the substitute teacher.' "
"Oh GAWD..." I thought to myself..."who is this person teaching this class?" It was really unlike me, but I was at a loss.
Well, it shut 'em up anyway.
I put on some classical music to calm myself down...relieve MY guilt. Of course it was MY fault they were noisy. Everything is my fault, didn't you know that? Actually I was feeling guilty for punishing them.

A few kids shouted, "Oh oh we have a Halloween cd...can we listen to that?"
"NO!" I replied.
"Once you FINISH this assignment, THEN you can listen to the Halloween cd while you make Halloween cards."
I wanted to make sure they followed through...and everyone did!
I felt a little strange asking them to do it, but I was at my wits end! How hokey, I thought.
Some of the sweet kids looked SO sad, I felt badly for them, but it was hard to single out the trouble makers. I rewarded the sweet kids with extra "treasure tickets" though! (They get them for good behavior and save them for prizes).
I slipped the coveted tickets to them when the other kids weren't looking.

All the kids finished, but one little girl, bless her sweet heart wrote me this letter:

"Dear Miss Sue,
I will RESPECT (underlined) our teacher because not everyone was noisy, some of them. We can be a better class. Please don't tell Ms. Laws. Can you forgive us? Now?
Kathy (circled with a happy faced heart next to her name)


SO I DID play the Halloween cd...which of course elicited monstrous behavior.
"Miss Sue, can we make paper airplanes?"
Miss Sue: "NO"
2 mintutes later...a paper airplane flew into my head.


Bex said...

You so need to chat to a friend of mine who teaches out in Switzerland - boy she has stories just like yours!!!!

Makes me chuckle - but well done for dealing with it - I would no doubt shout and scream and then go out for a fag and cry ..........

Love Bex

Suesjoy said...

Hello Ms. Bex!
Oh I'd love to hear your friend's stories. Teachers have the BEST stories...and you should hear how they talk about their students and parents in the teacher's lounge!
I get an earfull at lunchtime.
Teaching is THE most underrated, under appreciated occupation.
I love it though - and I wasn't really ready to teach until I had become a parent (I think!).
Glad you got a charge out of it.

neilbymouth said...

i was in love with a few teachers in my school, miss menday (art), miss moore (cant remember) miss jenkins (history) i was unlucky to have gone to a school where 60 percent of the demale teachers where good looking- its why i left with no exams and a love of dominant women- but that just brought they tome right down sisnt it sorry

neilbymouth said...

....miss bentley, miss daniels (ohhh)...

Anne-Marie said...

Oh Sue,
I have such absolutely respect and symnpathy for substitute teachers (called supply teachers in Toronto, btw). I think part of the problem is that some classroom teachers never prepare their class for what is expected from them on days they are away. From day one, I make sure my students understand that all teachers are to be respected and obeyed. It is in our class rules (we only have 4 of those, and the first one is listen and obey all teachers) and I also make sure I write a little note in my day plans asking how it all went and were there any problems. If any of the kids misbehave, they know I am going to be an ogre the next day with them.

I agree with you, we have the best stories and an underrated profession. I think the latter comes from "everyone went to school and so everyone is an expert", but also, as I realised after a few years of doing it, teachers don't show students how hard they work outside the school hours to make it all happen so smoothly, so people think it just all comes together by magic. Or something like that. It's a bit like thinking a courtroom lawyer never has to prepare, I suppose.

I hope you're liking it despite airplanes to the head. I personally find working with children an amazing experience- I'd much rather spend my day with them than a lot of grown-ups. Kids have a better sense of humour, and are usually more honest. Besides, the day tends to go very fast and you get to laugh a lot at incidents that become those "best stories". It's chaotic and frantic and energising.


lryicsgrl said...

OH Miss Sue, you poor devoted, dear!

Did I ever tell you, that I worked as a "senior counselor" at my daughter's daycamp??? I was in charge of 18 kindergarteners and 4 teenagers (who were suppossed to be "assisting" me, as Jr. counselors) Too many funny stories....

I was over to your Myspace....and you crack me up!
I love your fashion tips!!! And Anjoli; what a "pip" she daughter, Samantha, and I were chuckling at her little quips....

And, that David Letterman, man, I think I am in LOVE! ARTICULATION, is the word of the day!

btw, I "bookmarked" your are getting to be the queen of the internet....I loves ya!


Anonymous said...

Aparently Punk Rock behavior is starting younger and younger.. .


Suesjoy said...

Oh Neil, that explains alot! hee hee.
No...thanks for sharing that.So sweet!
Hello anne-marie- Oh thank you for your thoughtful commnet. I think that's wonderful that you have taught your students to respect ALL teachers.
I honestly have not had too many bad days as a sub ("supply teacher" - wow that sounds very military!).
I really DO enjoy it - it's the best job I've had so far!
I keep saying that I am going to go back to school to get my teaching just seems a bit daunting at my age!
I like going in, having a good day, then leave, not having to worry about SO many of the responsibilities teachers have.
Teachers work way more than 8 hours per day! It truly is a labour of love though.

Susie! Aw you'd be an awesome counselor. Can you imagine us as a team? Scary. :)
I'm teaching kindergarten 3 days in a row in a few weeks.
I'm sure I'll have lots of fun stories to blog about.
Last night at my daughter's Harvest Fair, a little dracula asked me, "Do you know where vampires live?"
Me: " coffins?"
He: "No in a coffin, in a castle in Pennsylvania."

Ah yes I went mental over that shirt.
I'm embarrased now though but oh well the damage is done!
It's still all Neil's fault anyway.

Thank you so much for the compliment! Glad you and Samantha enjoyed it! Yeah - Anju is quite the little autocrat!!!

Laura: Yeah I was thinking the same thing.
At that point I was like, whatever...class dismissed.

Nabonidus said...

Wow you and Mary Beth both are second
grade teachers! :)
I LOVE your profile pic, Sue. Absolutely my fave pic of you so far.
You have beautiful eyes. :)

JackJumpedOverTheMoon said...


I think you handled that VERY well. I've never had to handle a full class of kids before, but I know that with one on one piano lessons I was sometimes at a loss on how to get a child to focus. Teaching is a great way to learn patience, if nothing else. It is also a great way to explore your own creativity.

Still, I don't believe that you have anything to feel bad about... screaming at the kids and lecturing would have been futile, but having them sit quietly and write out lines isn't such a terrible thing. At least you can bring their blood pressure and adrenaline down by doing this, and hopefully calm down the class.

Wow. I still don't know how teachers deal with a class of 30 to 40 students. *Bows* Kudos!


Metalchick said...

Hi Sue,
I respected substitute teachers when I was in school, sometimes they were better than my regular teachers.
I've got a story about the worst sub I ever had. In my high school algebra class, we only had our teacher for two months, then he transfered to another school. We go through a couple subs until we get a permanant substitute. Unfortunately we end up going back to a chapter we already did, and then our sub always had to take pills for her migrane headaches, so she couldn't teach very well. Even my best friend, who usually has excellent grades, also thought that she was horrible too!
Now I'm in college, which rarely has substitute teachers. Usually classes are cancelled if a teacher can't be there.
Here's another sub story, this time it's positive. I only had a sub at college once, it was in my political science class. the teacher I had was difficult, but the sub was an instructor who also teaches political science. I failed Political science, but because of that sub, I signed up for his class when I retook it.
that tells you that even subs can have an impact on a persons education, both good and bad. Mostly good though!

Grace said...

Hi Sue!! How are you? You have alot of patience it sounds like!!! I think you are right in what you did, kids need rules and structure, and need to listen. (dog whisperer dog guidelines too)hehe. I love the paper airplane hitting you. Gotta love the kids, huh?
Hope all is well xxx Grace

Anne-Marie said...

Hi Sue,
You're never too old to become a teacher if it's what you have your heart set on. We had ladies in their 40s and 50s at teachers' college. You made me laugh that our term sounds military. "Subs" sounds like food!

Barb said...

I like the way you handled this. Respect--what a concept. So ignored these days. Man, I remember third grade and having to sit with hands nicely folded atop the desk. Time have changed (sadly).

James Casey said...

I couldn't be a teacher.

That said, I do lead a church choir of around 30 children, and adore it... but I can get away with more in one hour on Sunday than I could in a week.

James Casey said...

Further to Master Emery's posts above... I can't remember if I had a crush on Miss Heald, but she's my favourite teacher of all time. Tragically no longer with us, but I modelled my handwriting on hers. I used to think I was her favourite pupil... years later I found every one of her pupils had thought the same about themselves. A rare quality in a teacher. I salute her.

Diaries of a Lipstick Addict said...

Aww Kathy sounds like a keeper! How sweet!!!


Chelice said...

Hey! I hope those weren't my second graders! By the way, they love you, always asking when you're coming back to sub with them! Your sweet spirit puts them at ease. Your creativity inspires their imaginations!