Week 29: chronicles of a substitute classroom part one
I came back to school after spring break to find out that my teacher would be out until the end of April. In other words, I have a sub for three weeks.
I got lucky and my students have the same sub for two weeks. She has subbed for my teacher when she was on maternity leave in the past, so she has a good relationship with her and has the class under control compared to other subs I’ve had in the past.
Here’s a glimpse into the life of a corps member in a sub classroom:
“STOP throwing food, it’s disgusting and you’re acting like first graders,” I yelled.
“IT WASN’T ME!” said my student.
Throws food again.
“I just saw you do that. Get up right now and sweep the floor.”
“It wasn’t me, you need glasses or something?!”
“Actually, I have perfect vision. Get up right now and sweep,” I said, completely frustrated and annoyed.
“Whatever, it wasn’t me,” as he mumbles things (about me probably).
It’s hard to not yell at my students because they can be so rude when we have a sub. They think they can get away with anything. I try hard to be patient and to pick my battles, but sub days bring the worst out in me. I sit at a desk in front of the classroom, so every single thing my kids do — like rip up paper and throw it at each other, whisper and and cuss each other out, pass notes, not listen to a word the sub is saying, interrupt and talk back the sub, run around the classroom, chase each other with the classroom broom, throw chairs, spit water at each other, walk on top of tables, physically hit each other, and so the stressful list goes on and on.
Having patience with sixth graders isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Before I started working at Markham, I thought sixth graders would still be innocent and cute elementary kids. Of course some students act like how I expected them to, but after being in a middle school environment like Markham for almost a year, they know just exactly how to get under mine or a sub’s skin.
Case in point: The other day a kid pretended he had a nose bleed to get out of class. Was it actually blood? Yeah right, it was kool-aid.
However, sometimes when I call students out, I am in the wrong. I apologized after yelling at one of my trouble students, but still told him that even if he wasn’t throwing food, his track record when a sub is here gives me a reason to think he’s acting up.
I plan to survive the end of week 30 and week 31 by taking students out of class every period and working with them in the library. Well, more like the students who actually want to do work. I experimented yesterday and took table by table out each period to play a memory game with sixth grade English CST vocabulary. I was lenient and let them listen to music, which wasn’t helpful because they weren’t invested in the game. Right now, they have no authority back in the classroom telling them they need to work with me and respect me, except the students that ask me, “Can we go to the City Year room today?!”
I think a perfect comparison for weeks like this would be that the classroom is like a zoo.
“Hey girl, how you doin today?” said my student after I gave him the “are you serious right now” scowl after he yelled at one of his classmates.
Think I’m going to respond to that? Nope. PICK YOUR BATTLES.
Please, oh please Peace Corps, assign me to be a high school (and not middle school) teacher!
Yours in service,
Stressed and Aggravated Ms. Liz
The scene of the crime: All the trash my students threw at each other and the brooms they enjoy hitting each other with on sub days