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cincrazy
09-01-2008, 09:34 PM
Anyone here with any experience in substitute teaching? Or maybe any teacher's in general that could give me some tips?

I start my sub career tomorrow for the high school, I'm a bit nervous! But I'm also confident that the class will respond to me and be ok. Any suggestions from anyone?

redsfanfalcon
09-01-2008, 09:39 PM
Don't be too laid back or they won't take you seriously...I'm not saying be a jerk...there's a fine line there! Good luck! I've only been teaching about 3 years now (I graduated when I was 29) and love it. Luckily, I never had to substitute teach as a job came open mid year for me.

cincrazy
09-01-2008, 09:52 PM
Don't be too laid back or they won't take you seriously...I'm not saying be a jerk...there's a fine line there! Good luck! I've only been teaching about 3 years now (I graduated when I was 29) and love it. Luckily, I never had to substitute teach as a job came open mid year for me.

Thanks a lot, I really appreciate the help. I just turned 23, so I'm barely older than a lot of these kids, it should be an experience no doubt!

Raisor
09-01-2008, 10:13 PM
If possible, stay away from the Junior High kids. They can smell fear.

cincrazy
09-01-2008, 10:26 PM
If possible, stay away from the Junior High kids. They can smell fear.

Thanks. Yeah, I actually told the gentleman in charge of everything that I wanted to stay with the high school crowd. Also, I'm going back to school to get a master's in education at the high school level, so that will help me on my resume also.

Edskin
09-01-2008, 10:33 PM
I did it over one fall/winter period when I first started my business. It definitely depends on the school district, and to a smaller extent, the teacher you are subbuing for.

I subbed in the OKC Public School District and did elementary, middle, and HS (mostly middle school). I don't want to scare you, but a few of those days rank as some of the worst in my life.

Now, I went into some REALLY bad schools. It was a madhouse. It was as if my only job that day was to keep the kids from killing each other....literally. Some of the kids were so rude, angry, and uncontrollable. I've got LOTS of specific stories if you ever want to hear them :)

At the end of those days, not only was I exhausted and relieved to get out, but I was also so sad about the state of the school, etc. I felt horrible for the vast majority of the kids and got very angry with the system along the way.

Having said that, once I learned what schools to avoid, things got better. I subbed at a Charter School here locally and that was a total breeze. The teacher had specific lesson plans laid out, the kids all had routines, and they knew there were consequences if they didn't do what they were supposed to do. On those days, it was easy money.

There were literally times when I'd get to a school and the administration wouldn't know where to send me. After awhile, they'd finally figure it out and once I got to the class, there would be NOTHING planned. Zilch. A nearby teacher would usually scramble over and tell me to "make the kids do this worksheet or something." It was a mess. The kids could absolutely sense the lack of organization and they ran wild with it.

One trick I learned: Come prepared with your own stuff to "teach." I found a few simple subjects (like how a credit card works and how it differs from a debit card) really caught their attention.

In the end, I think it all boils down to what type of situation you are heading into. If it's a good school with an organized teacher, then things are probably going to be pretty simple and you'll find it enjoyable. If you go into a downtrodden school, with a disorganized teacher, where kids are throwing up gang signs....then it's gonna be a really, really long day.

Edskin
09-01-2008, 10:43 PM
One quick example...and this is really a social commentary more than anything.

Subbed one day for a gym teacher at a pretty rough HS.

This was 100% what they told me to and what they gave me to work with.

There was a gym detached from the main building. I was given TWO basketballs and these instructions "don't let anybody in or anybody out." That's it.

I was stunned when "class" started. This was "block" scheduling, so I really only had 3 classes that day...each lasting for almost an hour and a half. It was a mix of 9th and 10th graders.... as many as 40 kids in the gym at once.

TWO basketballs.....40 boys.......a hour and half............It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

I now see why they didn't want any outsiders coming in. Straight up street thugs pulled up to the gym and would try to get in.....or get their buddies out. At one point, I was using my body to brace the door.

Kids were fighting....I stopped more fights that day.....and these were "real" fights. When I buzzed the front office, there was little to no reponse. At one point, a kid broke a windown. At another point, a boy started urinating on the gym floor....I think he was dared to do it. I figured that would get the office riled up..but all they did was send me a security guard.....when the guard got there and noticed it wasn't a violent act, he left. No one even cleaned up the urine.

One of the "nicer" kids told me that the last sub got jumped...lovely to hear that. And I don't doubt it. When I tried to tell kids they couldn't leave, I would get verbal threats...many looked ready to clock me. I'll tell you, it took all I had to restrain myself-- there was so much anger that day-- channeled in all the wrong directions by all the wrong people.

When the day ended, I left in a daze. I was bothered by this for days after, if not weeks. As you can tell, that afternoon still bothers me.

They threw the kids in a gym and locked the door.....treated them like animals......and the kids reacted in kind. Some education.

Edskin
09-01-2008, 10:46 PM
Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread. Just read my replies and they kind of "strayed" :) Just figured I'd pass along my experiences as a sub.

I do want to reiterate that if you are in a decent district/setting, I am quite sure everything will be great. I had no problems in the schools that had things under control.

cincrazy
09-01-2008, 10:59 PM
Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread. Just read my replies and they kind of "strayed" :) Just figured I'd pass along my experiences as a sub.

I do want to reiterate that if you are in a decent district/setting, I am quite sure everything will be great. I had no problems in the schools that had things under control.

Hey you didn't hijack anything, I appreciate the responses! I'm actually subbing at a district that's top notch locally. Year in and year out it's ranked as one of the best districts in the area, if not the best. One of the high school's is also my alma mater, so in that regard things should go smoothly.

But your point on some inner-city schools is not missed at all. From k-8th grade I was in the inner city school district, and all hell broke loose on a daily basis. In the 9th grade I moved to a county school (the district I'll be subbing for) and the organization and discipline is remarkable.

And I give you credit. If things ever get as bad for me as they did for you, I don't think I could tolerate that for very long at all.

KoryMac5
09-01-2008, 10:59 PM
Some tips:

Be firm, fair, and consistent with the kids.
Have a plan and use it, if they say Mr. or Mrs. Teacher doesn't do that, tell them Mr. or Mrs. So and So isn't here and I am.
Use humor, a little humor can go along way.
Be you, kids can tell if you are for real or plastic.
Teach with energy and excitement, if you are interested the kids will be to.
Be prepared for anything and everything, handle each situation with a calm confidence.
Follow up, if a kid gives you a hard time follow up with them or their homeroom teacher.
Pick and choose your niche, I always liked to sub for elementary school kids, some subs like older kids.

It will be tough until the kids get to know you and what you are about, after that they will make their decisions based upon how well you did or didn't react.

Is teaching something you plan on making a career out of, or are you trying to get your feet wet to build a resume. IMO long term sub jobs are the best way to get a foot in the door, for full time jobs that open.

Good luck and have fun.

cincrazy
09-01-2008, 11:02 PM
Some tips:

Be firm, fair, and consistent with the kids.
Have a plan and use it, if they say Mr. or Mrs. Teacher doesn't do that, tell them Mr. or Mrs. So and So isn't here and I am.
Use humor, a little humor can go along way.
Be you, kids can tell if you are for real or plastic.
Teach with energy and excitement, if you are interested the kids will be to.
Be prepared for anything and everything, handle each situation with a calm confidence.
Follow up, if a kid gives you a hard time follow up with them or their homeroom teacher.
Pick and choose your niche, I always liked to sub for elementary school kids, some subs like older kids.

It will be tough until the kids get to know you and what you are about, after that they will make their decisions based upon how well you did or didn't react.

Is teaching something you plan on making a career out of, or are you trying to get your feet wet to build a resume. IMO long term sub jobs are the best way to get a foot in the door, for full time jobs that open.

Good luck and have fun.

Thanks for all the advice. I really appreciate all of the responses from everybody so far.

I plan on making teaching a full time career. I'm still a few years away from completing the necessary schooling, but I figured the more sub teaching in the mean time the better!

cumberlandreds
09-02-2008, 08:08 AM
My wife is a sub in Loudoun County Virginia. She has done this for about 9 years. She mainly just subs in middle school and HS. She prefers them than to the little ones. There is more physical work involved with them and more detailed attention has to be paid to them as well. She mainly does special ed classes. She really likes to work with the handicapped both physically and mentally. I think she gets a lot of satisfaction in helping those kinds of students. Plus no one else wants to sub their classes and she can jobs with those nearly everyday. She does regular classes too. She comes home from a lot of those totally exhausted. Kids today just don't have the respect that one's from my generation had. Some of things said to her have truly been shocking. If you can get honor student classes get them. Those are the best students. They come in and go to work and have very little problems with them. You just have to try out all the schools and different classes to find what best suits you. You may have some rough one's until find those you like best. Best of luck to you.

cincrazy
09-02-2008, 03:50 PM
My wife is a sub in Loudoun County Virginia. She has done this for about 9 years. She mainly just subs in middle school and HS. She prefers them than to the little ones. There is more physical work involved with them and more detailed attention has to be paid to them as well. She mainly does special ed classes. She really likes to work with the handicapped both physically and mentally. I think she gets a lot of satisfaction in helping those kinds of students. Plus no one else wants to sub their classes and she can jobs with those nearly everyday. She does regular classes too. She comes home from a lot of those totally exhausted. Kids today just don't have the respect that one's from my generation had. Some of things said to her have truly been shocking. If you can get honor student classes get them. Those are the best students. They come in and go to work and have very little problems with them. You just have to try out all the schools and different classes to find what best suits you. You may have some rough one's until find those you like best. Best of luck to you.

I COMPLETELY agree with your statement that the lack of respect today is incredible. Third period, I was trying to get the attention of the class, and a girl said "WHAT!?" Very obnoxious, very rude. I was extremely upset, but I held it in. Stared her down for a minute, got my point across fast enough.

The day went ok for the most part. The kids spent most of the day testing my limits, trying me out. I think I did ok, but I'm not so sure I like this high school

15fan
09-02-2008, 03:57 PM
Point your kids to the beer pong thread.

Then tell them that if they stay in line & do their school work, they'll get to go away to college, where beer pong is just the tip of the iceberg.

reds1869
09-02-2008, 05:48 PM
I have the unique experience of having subbed for a year after being a full-time teacher for two years; I've now been back at it full-time for four years. Be tough. In my own classroom I try to keep the atmosphere light but respectful. It work for my personality and the kids respond positively. Do NOT do that as a sub; you will be destroyed. I learned quickly that a sub needs to cut a commanding figure. You are only there for a day or two and the kids will ride their first impression out for the duration. Be firm but fair, and don't let the kids forget for a second that you are a teacher, not a babysitter.

All that said, I loved my time subbing, particularly subbing for Westerville. If you find out which buildings are good for you and get in good with the administration you will do well. I even got a job offer from Westerville that way, though I turned it down because I had just signed a contract here in Cincinnati the previous day. Good luck and enjoy your experience!

aerontg
09-02-2008, 10:06 PM
I'm seriously thinking about a career in teaching. Having a pretty rough childhood, experiencing things like drugs, alcohol, parents not there when I needed them, I feel I can relate much better than some of those preps graduating with all A's in academics, and all F's in real life experience. Anyway.....special education is probably where I'm going to wind up teaching. Even though I'm not what I consider "street smart", I've wondered what it would be like to teach in a Dangerous Minds (anyone else here like that movie?) environment. ;)

Stephenk29
09-02-2008, 11:04 PM
I'm seriously thinking about a career in teaching. Having a pretty rough childhood, experiencing things like drugs, alcohol, parents not there when I needed them, I feel I can relate much better than some of those preps graduating with all A's in academics, and all F's in real life experience. Anyway.....special education is probably where I'm going to wind up teaching. Even though I'm not what I consider "street smart", I've wondered what it would be like to teach in a Dangerous Minds (anyone else here like that movie?) environment. ;)

Spent some time in East St. Louis High School.
Good luck.


I'm student teaching right now, the first thing you learn is easily firm but fair. The second you give them an inch, they take a mile.

camisadelgolf
09-03-2008, 04:46 AM
Being a substitute is like your first day of prison. When you go in, you have to make a decision: Am I going to beat someone up, or am I going to be friends with someone who can protect me? The thing is, you're seen as the prison guard, so no one will protect you. Therefore, you have to beat someone up, figuratively speaking.

As soon as you walk in the class, find a kid that's doing something wrong. Even if he/she isn't doing anything wrong, you can find something. Then, punish the kid. The student will whine and try to talk her/his way out of it, but just stick to your guns, and send her/him to the corner or whatever.

Soon, someone will try to test you. Yell. And I mean yell. Here's the beauty of it:

When you yell, all the students want to know what you're saying. You're causing a big disruption, and instead of them going off and doing bad things on their own, they will pay attention to you because they're entertained. Soon enough, the allure of yelling will wear off, and you'll have to find something else to keep their attention.

That's the key to being a substitute teacher. Just be entertaining. The thing is, nothing wholesome entertains kids. You have to use drugs, sex, and violence. Obviously, for legal reasons, it's difficult to stick to these themes in the presence of young people. This is when you make up stories about how a friend of yours was mobbed on the streets last night. Then the kids will think they have power as they try to inform you of why the person was mobbed. They will want to know all the details, and if they but your story (and they will), they will try to give tips. It makes the kids think they're hard and gives them a feeling of power. And if you have a class full of do-gooders, they'll just be quiet the whole time, and you can ignore them anyway.

The term 'substitute teacher' is very misleading. You're not going to teach them anything. I hate to tell you this, but you're probably just a baby-sitter. Anyway, I hope this helped. Being a substitute baby-sitter should give you some great stories that you can tell over and over for the rest of your life.

Yachtzee
09-03-2008, 09:00 AM
I haven't subbed, but I've taught the rough crowd of students at the trade school/associate degree level, so if you find yourself on a long-term sub assignment, this might help. If you pass out assignments, you will have to decide whether you expect students to do their own work or not, because you will probably have students trying to turn in the exact same assignment. If you catch anyone cheating, know the school policy, tell that that you are failing them on that assignment and if they wish to dispute it, they can speak with the administration. Usually they back down because they know they were busted. Just in case, save copies of everything. Sometimes students will wait till you're gone to accuse you of unfairness or some failure on your part to follow school policy, thinking they will keep you from getting hired again. Usually, administration officials know what they're trying to do, but just in case, it's good to have your own paper trial to fall back on.

Scrap Irony
09-03-2008, 09:08 AM
I disagree about as much as possible with you, camisa. You are paid to be a substitute teacher, so you should be a substitute teacher. I spent five years with the worst of the worst in an inner city middle school.

I learned to survive and thrive because my lessons were entertaining and demanding. Most often, you can stare down a student if they don't do what you want them to. If you're physically imposing, use it to your advantage. Stand close. Loom.

But, above all else, stay calm.

As soon as you start yelling, you're done for. They smell not fear, I think, but that feeling of uncontrolled panic that comes with yelling. It's an animal thing.

So, to confront that and have your kids pay attention, do as Edskin does. Prepare a couple day-long lessons in each subject about real-life work. If a teacher doesn't leave leson plans, use those. Change as needed. Since you're trying to get some experience, this is a great opportunity to get it.

If you're in a gym with only two basketballs, play Cowboys and Indians, wherein they try to catch one another while jogging around the basketball court. The person in back sprints to the front while everyone else jogs. It keeps them in shape and takes about fifteen to 30 minutes of class time.

The most important facets of education, in any environment, are:
Edu-tainment
Make it interesting and they will sit. (They might not sit the way you want them to or learn the way it "should be", but they will stay relatively quiet.) Find something they can relate to or something they need to know in the real world and it's good. If you're in an English class, have them read a short magazine article on the effects of the death of Tupac Shakur or how barbed wire changed the American West. A good student-written editorial on an issue they care about is also a good mini-lesson. Above all, find something fun for them.

Create relationships
Don't be afraid to laugh at their jokes, if they're funny. If they're not, don't laught. Don't be fake; they know fake and hate it. Tell stories from your life if you are a good storyteller. If not, keep quiet. If you're funny, make a joke or two, but keep it low-key and dry and don't try for the Jim Carrey-esque physical humor. Try to find something to like in each kid. Smile. Be friendly, but not a friend.

Be fair
Be fair, but not necessarily equal. Some kids can go to the hallway and "work"; others can't. Don't yell at one kid "just to set an example". You wouldn't want someone doing that to you or your child, would you? Unfairness breeds resentment and resentment can build. Quickly. Pick the wrong kid and you're screwed forever at that particular school. Finally, the best piece of advice I ever receieved about teaching was this: if it is going to matter in five years, say something and be willing to stick to your guns. If it won't, let it slide.

Hope these help.

cincrazy
09-21-2008, 12:39 PM
So far, so good with the substitute teaching. As long as you let the kids know you're in charge from the get go, you can have a pretty good handle on them. Every now and then a kid will feel the need to test you. Mostly the reaction to a substitute is "Well, they're not going to be here tomorrow, I'll never see them again, I can do what I want." But if you squash that pretty quick it makes for a good day.

I've also found that if they finish whatever work the teacher had for them, instead of letting them chat away (as the noise level increases) I get their attention and engage in some current event talk, whether it be about the election, or hurricanes, 9/11, or what have you.

I asked a class the other day what grade they were in when 9/11 happened, and I was told the 2nd grade!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I also asked the class what year they thought I graduated, and one girl said "1989!" Now, no offense to anyone that graduated in 89, but I graduated in 2003!!!!! And I barely look that old, so I'm not sure where she came up with that one ;)