Re: Substitute teaching
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:
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.
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, 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.
"You can learn little from victory. You can learn everything from defeat."
-- Christy Matthewson
"Show me a good loser and I'll show you an idiot."
-- Leo Durocher