Thursday, February 12, 2009

Subbing Challenge

Yesterday I subbed for the a sixth grade class. I've been in their room once before, and they remember me as the "name lady" because I'm excellent at learning names quickly (I'll share my secrets some other time). It's getting to the time of the school year when kids are the worst. They are irritated with everyone in their class, they've gotten super comfortable with the teacher, they're stir crazy from the winter weather, and they're just generally nutty. Spring break cannot come soon enough.

The students weren't terrible in the morning. I worked with three different classes (the sixth graders have a "homeroom" but switch between three different teachers for their core classes), and each did fairly well with the social studies lesson on Neolithic societies. We learned about the city of Ur (think Mesopotamia, Tigris and Euphrates rivers - essentially modern day Iraq). The kids were quite amused by the word "ziggurat" (a large temple), but I think they got the point of the lesson which was the impact of irrigation on civilizations.

I swear they must have been mainlining sugar during lunch though, because they came back to the classroom resembling rabid dogs (I kid you not, I think one of them was foaming at the mouth.) Thank god for nice weather; they all went outside for recess. I've started to realize that as a sub, I'm going to have to lower my expectations slightly.

As a regular classroom teacher, I really never had problems with classroom management. I might be jinxing myself by admitting this, but it's true. It's something my principal always marveled over, especially considering my small stature and youth. Once another young teacher actually came to me saying the principal had suggested she talk to me to see how I handled unruly students. I realize now that so much of classroom management is based on respect, clear procedures and rules, and follow through.

When I sub for a class though, I don't have any of those things on my side. The students and I have not developed a relationship, so there's little trust or earned respect. It's someone else's classroom, so they've established the procedures and rules; if those are more lax, I likely can't impose more order in one day. And as a sub, I have little power to follow through with consequences or long-term solutions to any behavioral problems. That doesn't mean I can't try my best when I am in the room, but I'm going to have to accept that the classroom is not going to be just like mine when I'm only subbing for one day.


sister,  February 13, 2009 at 12:20 PM  

Please tell me that your name-memory skills have much to do with the last few episodes of the Office - 'Freckles! Mexico! etc...'


Mugs February 14, 2009 at 9:36 PM  

Yes, you are correct. I referred to children as "Stinky!" "Big ears!" "Zits!" "Mini mustache!"

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