That’s right, I almost cried.

I came home after subbing an 8th grade Middle School Math class almost wanting to cry. I stress ate (not good: a bowl of cereal, left over lasagna, and two cookies within an hour), vented to my elder brother, and had a self-debate of whether to head to the gym or take a nap.

I napped and so I am here to recount the adventure of the day.

I was offered the opportunity to sub at three schools and asked which opportunity I would take. I turned down two high school science classes to sub in a middle school math class because I rarely have the opportunity to sub in a middle school. Though math is not my best subject, I am familiar with algebra with the exception of a review of simplifying radical expressions. And look what today’s worksheet looked like?

I am confident enough in finding the solution, but lacked the confidence to teach it. In a block schedule of having students for two class periods instead of one, I spent 90 minutes attempting to review and teach radical expressions. The first block period the students either resisted reviewing the lesson or truly did not know how to do it (then again, it could be both). The second block of students were willing to learn and review. They were also higher-level special education students (which is, in my experience, always a pleasure to have). Lastly, the third block of students just did not care, attempting every manipulative way to avoid work or have a really mean attitude about everything, including me giving the opportunity to earn a prize. At one point students managed to spit water at each other!

This was a case of poor classroom management! I was disappointed in myself. Thankfully I kept my cool, raised my voice when necessary, and stop the chaos before it ensued into a riot. Yes, started the day off not-so-well and that third block of students disappointed me and which lead to disappointing myself.

But, being a sub, I can not take such gigs personal. I remained professional. I still left a note for the teacher with my business card if he should need a substitute teacher again. If he were to contact me to sub for his class, I would at least know what to expect.

Oh, and get this! The school doesn’t have a school bell. By choice.

It allows students to take responsibility for their own choices and time. Interesting, huh? For a sub new to the school, I had to constantly look at the clock and the school schedule to see when to dismiss the students. This choice also plays on the “the school bell does not dismiss you, the teacher does” type of rule.

My bag of tricks did not work with these students, and that’s unfortunate, but I learn as I go on.

  1. twentythreevoices said: Oh my goodness, are you me?! I have had more sub days like this than I care to admit. I always feel like I am hardest on myself, especially with classroom management. It can be so hard to remain professional in these situations. You are not alone.
  2. coloursinaflower said: Good for you for being reflective. We all need to reflect on the bad days, identify what went wrong, and make a plan for change. More importantly, we need to reflect on the good days, and use them to keep us afloat when the tides turn against us.
  3. mrsmillerthesub said: I had a middle school class bring me to tears… I was so mad at myself, but one of the other teachers came to me and let me know that middle school is hard, and all the teachers there have had their moments. Good work toughing it out, and don’t be too hard on yourself, the…
  4. charellabon said: Radical expressions - YUCK :) Kudos to you for taking on middleschoolers (everyone’s worst years). I’ve had to invest in a cheap watch w/ big numbers on it & wear it whenever I sub (I missed an afternoon recess bc the school bell didn’t ring for it).
  5. classroomchaos posted this