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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Day I Quit…

It happened to me last week in a 6th grade class. I’ve worked with this class before when they were 4th and 5th graders. Nothing has changed. If anything it’s gotten even worse.

This class behaves as if every school day is a party day. That’s not to say that everyone in the class behaves this way, but when a good 80% of the class is in full time party mode, the other 20% disappear in the chaos.

After several attempts to get them into the mysteries of bar graphs and histograms for the math lesson, I gave up.

“I see we aren’t going to get much done today so…the text book page for today’s Math is on page 221. Read it yourself and figure it out on your own. The homework assignment is on the board. If anyone has any questions, you can come to the back of the room where I’ll help those who are motivated to do so. I’ll let your teacher know that she’ll probably have to repeat this lesson tomorrow since it isn’t happening today.”

With that, I went back to the teacher’s desk in the back of the room and sat down…waiting to see what affect that had on the class. None!

Not one student came to the back for questions or help. In detailing the events of the day for the teacher to review, I included a note that she would probably have to redo most of the day’s lessons.

“Sorry I couldn’t do a better job for you” was my closing line on the end of day report.

I met the teacher in the teacher’s lounge a couple of days later. She apologized to me for her class and said they are like that for her also and it’s not just an act they put on for subs.

In asking why the school hasn’t tried to break up this group into different classes, she told me that ALL the 6th grade classes are like hers if not worse.

At least I can take a day off after an experience like that. The teacher isn’t so fortunate.


Billie's Mummy said...

I've had classes just like that and as horrible a day I may have, I am just thankful that I don't have that behaviour everyday and pitty their regular teachers.

Stacey said...

I've had these experiences in subbing too, especially in the upper elementary grades. It seems to me that students are more likely to act up in the districts that are closer to the city. In my experience the districts that are in the suburbs/rural area have much better behaved students and much higher achieving students academically. I think many things factor into this, the biggest one being home life. If parents don't care about school and aren't involved, the students aren't going to care either. In the "good" districts I sub for the parents are very involved and are on the same page as the teacher. If a student gets in trouble at school the parents are likely to back up the teacher instead of blaming the teacher, which makes the student think they don't have to listen to teachers. Those students also tend to disrespect authority at a young age. The school atmosphere also comes into play. If kids see everyone else around them behaving, they are more likely to behave too. If many of the students are bouncing off the walls and screaming, the others are likely to also misbehave. Unfortunately when people look at schools and decide about funding (or whether to fire all the teachers) they seem to think teachers should be able to work miracles and make the students learn, even if the kids don't care and know their parents don't care. They don't look at all the other factors that could cause bad test scores, like the home life of the students. They only see that the kids aren't doing well, and blame it all on the teacher. It's hard to be a good teacher when your kids are disrespectful and don't give a s*** about school! You can't MAKE someone learn, they have to have some motivation, and the older kids get, the harder it is to get them excited about learning. SO when I am fortunate enough (if ever) to find a permanent position, I pray that it will be in a "good" district... (I'm in MN, where it's extremely difficult to find a teaching job)

Chris Osborne said...

I did that recently to a class that was going to have a test the next day, with me in there giving them the test.

Sadly, that wasn't the worst part of my day.

T said...

I am just a rookie and at a recess, I went to the office in tears. I told them I could not do it anymore and I was leaving. That did not go over well. The sub office called to "get my side of the story." But I think I like your style and will have to try it.

KauaiMark said...


I'm willing to bet that every sub has had some experiences like that starting out. I know I did..(check the archived posts)

Try to remember you're only there for the day. You don't have to ever go back and that other classes/schools WILL be better.

Believe it or not, you might have a great class tomorrow where you actually had fun being there and kids love you for it.

Try lower grades K, 1st and 2nd for a while. They are still "excited" about school and willing to please the "new" teacher.

You can always pick and choose which classes you'll take (once you get some experience with a few) so you can turn them down for ANY reason and not feel guilty about it. Life is too short for so much stress.

You can bet that if they did that to you, they have done that to others and it's ultimately the school and parents problem...not yours.

If you discover that too many classes in this district are like that one, you can try another.

Hang in there, you WILL get better at it.


Theresa Milstein said...

I hate classes like that when you just have to get through it. When I hear that a class behaves like that every day it makes me happy to be a sub instead of having them everyday too!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just discovered your blog. I'm a sub too, so it's nice to know there are others out there with the same struggles. I'm curious, I'm thinking about starting my own blog. Do you actually make income from the ads?

KauaiMark said...


Making $$ from AD's: No, not really. (Averages $50/yr)

Beryl Robinson said...

I am writing a memoir about my 13 years of substitute teAching. It is a thankless job. We are scapegoats for the Dministration, the teachers and the parents