You see, I noticed this when I read WITH my students:
1. I read along with them so I can help pronounce words.
2. While reading, sometimes the students will distract other students while my head is in the book.
3. Students will hide their cell phones in their books.
Then I figured there is an advantage to playing the audio version of a book in class and have the students read along:
1. It puts all students at the same reading pace as others.
2. The pace of the reader is perfect.
3. I get observe my students and monitor their behavior.
The third one is key because today, today I scored:
My sixth period is sneaky, but thankfully, they did not argue with me when I simply reached out my hand to the three students who tried to use their electronic devices when they were suppose to be reading along with the audio in class.
And, without looking at the student, I reached out my hand to the student who was sharing clay in class. He was throwing pieces of clay. I simply walked up to him and had him place the clay in my hands.
And I held out my hand until every chunk was placed in my palm.
Well my hand was reached out like that, but my facial expression and my mentality was very similar.
Some teachers would immediately write a referral for the student, but I do not do that unless I have given a verbal warning. I may find other culprits doing the same tomorrow in other class periods.
Looks like I will be doing more observing tomorrow.
I decided to create a new seating chart for my students, but for me to make this work it required some strategic planning, patience, trial and error, and observation of the natural teenage student environment.
Wow. I apologize. I did not mean for all of that to sound like a science project.
In all my experience in substitute teaching I have noticed that students do not respond to change all too easily, thus why students try to complicate the lives of their substitute teachers more than they would the lives of their regular teachers.
Right before Spring Break, I rearranged the desks and allowed my students to sit wherever they choose. I was briefly reminded of this:
By this time I am familiar with the student names and faces to take attendance by sight. This gave me the opportunity to observe who wants to sit with who, who wants to sit where, and who will adapt to change better than others. On the first day of offering students to sit where they will sit, they will “claim” a spot. Some switches will be made here and there, but for the most part, the same students sit together or in the same spot.
This observation helped because now I noticed things like the two best friends who begged to sit next to each other at the beginning of the school-year are now sitting on opposite sides of the classroom and one of the students in the group of friends who hang out together chooses to sit away from his friends during class. I consider these factors.
This change did not go forewarned with my students. My students knew this day would come, and it was best I informed them ahead of time so they would not project an attitude that required me to attempt to calm them down. Plus, I wanted to prevent this from happening:
I made my charts.
Upon returning from Spring Break, the students sat wherever they wanted the first-two days while I was in New York and they had a Sub. By third day, upon my return, I allowed them to sit wherever they wanted and observed to see if I needed to make new changes on my preliminary seating chart. By this third day, I noticed who works well as a group and who works well independently.
My desks are arranged where there are desks grouped together for those who can work in groups and desks arranged in individual rows for those who can, and probably should, work independently. Plus, this helps create an environment where I can easily move about in the classroom.
I finalized my charts and I used the good ol’ divide and conquer method.
ME: Okay, guess what I have? [students groan] That’s right! Seating charts!
STUDENTS: (students whine, groan, and shuffle around the class)
ME: (assign students to their seats)
STUDENTS: (settle in their seats and pout)
ME: (in my sarcastically enthusiastic tone of voice) Do you like your new seats?
ME: Excellent. Let us get back to work, shall we?
We are still in the honeymoon phase of this seating arrangement, but so far so good.
Earlier this week it was my birthday. Whenever my birthday lands on a school day I treat my students to a treat, whether it was a classroom I was in for a day, week, month, or year. I genuinely enjoy celebrating my birthday with my students.
This year, I celebrated my birthday by serving my students (yup, each class of 35+ students) Oreo cookies. In addition I had a sorta “free day” allowing them to play some board games and take over my whiteboard. I know it seems like chaos, but I thankfully had controlled chaos.
Well, it was all fun and games until a student in 5th period decided to take this time for granted and attempt to…
In my classroom.
In my classroom that has a broken air conditioner.
In my classroom with only one window open.
in a classroom of 30+ students.
IN. MY. CLASSROOM.
So, what happened? Though I let the students have free time, that does not mean I sit at my desk and fall asleep. I make my rounds. I take this opportunity to have casual conversations with students I do not normally have such conversations with. I shared an interest of anime with one student, discovered that another is heading to Pennsylvania because he placed 2nd place in wrestling in his region, and discovered how one student can rap Shakespeare stories. It was quite entertaining. For this particular class period, as I made my rounds, I also made sure students picked up their trash from the floor. I walked pass one group of students and when I kneeled down to pick-up a piece of trash I stood up and…
When I turned around a group of girls got up from their desks, leaving one student behind, and him looking at me innocently asking, “Do you smell that, Miss?”
In this scenario, I chose not to acknowledge that I knew what the smell was. Students quickly started saying they smelled weed, or “it smells funny in here”, or questioned the smell. They would immediately tell me they smell weed and asked if I smell weed. By acknowledging I knew what the scent was confirms that I KNEW what the scent was and therefore I replied simply:
“That is an unusual scent and I do not like it.”
I made my way to my desk. Students wanted to leave the classroom, I denied them. We opened another window. I pretty much put my classroom on a lockdown. I tried to call every extension on my “in case of emergency” list and all went straight to voicemail.
I made it through to the recepetion desk, with students listening intently trying to find out who I was calling I simply said, “There is an unusual scent in my classroom.” “Ok, we’ll send someone your way.”
Who walks in? A custodian. Not who I expected. I wrote the situation on a piece of paper and asked if he could help me with this situation because none of the other extensions picked up. Out the door he goes.
While I wait, the students continue to play their board games, write on my board, and create a birthday banner for me. Then suddenly, my door swings open, school security enters, and I head outside to speak to administrator.
There goes trying to keep my class calm.
In the end, we (Discipline office and myself) discover that the student who so innocently sat at the table with the girls had in his possession a homemade pipe and a small “baggy” of sorts. He lit it up, blew smoke in the girls’ face, and thought I would not notice it.
This whole incident slaps me in the face. It makes it seem like I had no control over my classroom. Rumors will spread on the campus of how a student lit one up in my classroom and teachers will ask, “what was she doing that he was able to do that?” or “what was going on in the class that the student thought he can do that?” and I am sure all other questions that will question my classroom management skills.
The bigger slap in the face is knowing that I JUST had a talk with this student about how I was proud of how his grade improved.
I was simply disappointed in my student as much as I was in myself.
After Spring Break I will need to remind my students of the rules and expectations, and just hope for the school-year without an incident as such. Personally, I think I handled the situation well and I HATE the fact that what has happened has happened.
I am curious to know what are your rules and expectations (overall classroom management) regarding the use of cell phones (or iPods) in the classroom. I met one teacher who allows students to use their cell phones in class to “tweet” responses to a daily journal response and I also met a teacher who allows students to listen to music from their iPods or phones while writing.
With BOTH teachers, I also observed that students took advantage of this opportunity and do other activities like play games or send a text message to a peer when they should be writing or paying attention to the teacher’s lesson.
I often established the rule of no cell phones during class when I sub a class, but have caught students attempting to use their phones. A simple, “Please put that away” has worked for me, but I already established an expectation and a rule to not use it in my classroom. Problem is, I have let them use it! My rule is posted on my wall and now I am thinking of bring it down.
What are your classroom rules regarding the use of cell phones?
Does your school district have a policy?
How do you manage/respond to a student who attempts to use their cell phone in class?
On Wednesday I was informed that the school has hired a new teacher to start on Thursday. By this time I was ready to move on, but I was not ready for how my students would respond to me leaving.
A mash-up of responses occurred when I announced to my students that I would be leaving. It was a one day notice. I am here for a little over a month and then suddenly, poof, I am gone. Since I was informed mid-day on that Wednesday, I was told I would transition the new teacher on Thursday.
Lucky teacher. Most teachers do not have that opportunity to transition, and I sure was not given enough information to transition when I started, so keeping me on for a day to help her out certainly benefited her.
My students needed to complete the second part of an assignment on the day I was leaving. This was difficult because, for the most part, my students did not want to do anything. They figured that just because I was leaving they did not need to make the grade. Pffft. Thankfully most of my students cooperated enough to complete the assignment before screaming and projecting how they would miss me. The following was done in good fun.
Let me count the ways:
1. I am short, so some students managed to tape rulers and erasers above the whiteboard.
2. One student throughout the whole period decided to ask me when I was leaving and blurted out, “Leave already!”
3. Students wrote on my board.
4. One student told me he would make the new teacher’s life so difficult that she would quit and the school would re-hire me.
5. Students “threatened” to find me on campus, kidnap me, and return me back to the math class.
6. The gentle smile and “we will miss you” under the breath.
7. They say imitation is a form of flattery. Well imagine your tallest students imitating me as I try to point up at the number line above the white board.
8. Another form of flattery, students imitating me when I am teaching a lesson.
I am I will remember more of these little moments when I look back at teaching my first Algebra class.
Alas, the show must go on and as far as I know, I will be a U.S. History teacher next week. Cheers to Adventures in Substitute teaching.
I admit, I do not have to do HALF of the things I do as a Substitute Teacher. For one, I do not have to teach. I do not have to create lesson plans. I do not have to find ways to accomodate the various learning styles in my classroom.
I do not even need to attend tonight’s Parent Night (which I did not attend).
I do not have to access the student’s learning. I do not have to complete some of these IEP forms.
If I really wanted to, I could just have my students hang out…and do nothing.
But that’s not what I do, I am better than that and students deserve better than that, especially when I am given the opportunity to fill a teacher’s position (even if temporarily) and actually teach. It’s what keeps me at the school.
If the school wanted to, they would have dismissed me a long time ago. But I must be doing something right, right?
Except today. I planned one lesson for today and it failed. In my mind, it would have worked. I set-up six different math stations for my Basic Math 9th grade class and had them rotate stations every five minutes. The skill level of my students in this particular range vary. In this basic math class I have students struggling with single-digit addition and I have students able to do three-digit multiplication. That’s a broad range of learning styles!
And today students were confused about what to do at each station. I know my explanation was not clear especially when, on top of THAT, I had two students who walked into my classroom wanting to pick a fight with another student, so I had to handle THAT. *siGh*
Rough day today, rough.
I learned the hard way to not let the negativity from one class period affect the next. I was upset with how 4th period went that it rolled over through lunch and into my 5th period. 5th period is used to me teaching and giving them my attention that when I lacked in both areas, they became more needy which lead to more pressure.
Tomorrow is Friday and the it’s Labor Day weekend. I plan on planning the rest of the curriculum better. While most experience and knowledgeable teachers had the proper training and this past summer to prepare for such, I am usually just given my weekends or to think on my feet.
Thinking on my feet can exhaust my brain.
My students and I worked hard this past week so they deserved to have a small war, well, right after my 5 question mini-quiz.
I unfortunately did not take any pictures, but I can tell you that my students did not get violent, but they did get aggressively competitive. And, the positive consensus is that they had fun. At first, during first period, I made all students participate. It was not until second period that I had students who did not want to play. I accepted this as ALL the students not wanting to play until a student made a suggestion.
STUDENT: Miss, but some of us DO want to play. Have them do something else.
STUDENT #2: Assign us something from the textbook.
ME: You know, that’s not a bad idea.
This worked out well because the students who wanted to play, or at least did not want to do book work, gave full participation and the students who wanted to do bookwork, well, did bookwork.
By the time third, fourth, and fifth period came around I decided to have the students play two rounds of the game before asking if they would like to continue play or do bookwork. They all wanted to play! Excellent.
So, what did I do? I had them throw paper!
But not exactly like above…
I arranged the desks evenly so the desks are facing each other and there is about 6.5ft space in the middle. Two rows of 6 to my left, two rows of 6 on my right. 24. (I have less than 20 students in each class). I divided the students into teams. Team to my left would be orange; the team to my right would be green (I found a stack of scrap paper in the resource room, cut the papers into 1/8, and we used the blank side of the papers).
Each student would write a math problem based on my give topic. Seeing that I am working with students who still need to practice basics, I keep it to basic arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and I avoided division.
One single-digit number and one double-digit number multiplication…
Once they write the math problem, I take a quick look and I let them crumple the paper. This makes sure the student writes the problem correctly and fairly. Once I looked at both sides, I get out of the line of fire, and raise my hand to do a five finger countdown (this helps accomodate my deaf student wihout making it apparent). Once I do that countdown, the students throw their papers to the otherside. It becomes a paper-math-war! The opposite side must pick-up a paper, answer the problem, and turn it to my hand.
OBJECTIVE: The first team to turn in their responses and are answered correctly earn a point. Most points win!
My students are quite competitive so my rules varied per class period: “…you have to be touching your desk…”, “…you need to stay behind this imaginary line…”, “…you can not stand on your desk…”, “…do not aim at someone’s face”, and so on.
Oh, and why two different colors? For easy identification when the papers hit the floor. And why 1/8 pieces of paper? The larger the wad of paper, the faster it goes through the air, the harder the hit if it should be aimed at a student. I kinda’ want to avoid that. Smaller wads of paper do not hurt when launched from across the room.
I end the game early enough to play a last round and have the students clean up.
Last round: I return the color papers to each side and without telling them what to do, I have a student divide the papers to their team. Then I tell them to wad the papers up and throw at the otherside. The team with most colors on the otherside “wins” and they can throw the colors back at the other team. This became a fun amount of chaos as they really didn’t care about the rules and just wanted to launch papers at each other. Chaotic fun. I even laughed.
Then, my students cleaned up. No really, they cleaned up their mess.
STUDENT: Miss, what did we win?
ME: You get a…CONGRATULATIONS! I’m broke. I didn’t get my paycheck yet, but you did GREAT!
ME: You’re welcome, kids. YOU. ARE. WELCOME.
As soon as I stepped onto campus I was told two things: (1) I don’t have to attend the all-day teacher meetings and (2) I will get paid to be here, so I signed my payroll sheet.
I was pretty much told that I was going to be paid for a day of preparing my class without attending the mandatory meetings. The meetings were more for new teachers to get to know current teachers, and well, I simply did not need to be there. So at 7:30AM I was given my classroom keys and headed to my class.
Good thing I was not in a hurry because I ran into another teacher who was excited to see me because she wanted me to long-term sub for her class in September. Sweet. She teaches English and I always love the lessons she leaves for me so I was honored to be asked to long-term sub for her. Excellent.
When I arrived at my classroom, I unfortunately sat in the classroom for a good six hours attempting to figure out what to teach before I met with the Department Chair. How could I create lessons if I do not know what area of math I will be teaching (found out it will be Algebra and Basic Math)? What textbooks will I be using seeing that the classroom does not have a set? And, I was told I will not have an Instructional Assistant, but I see a desk with pictures right in front of me? I could not do much preparation until I had my questions answered. Instead, I just walked around the classroom to see what resources I had to work with and see if the overhead projector, television, and VCR worked.
I finally met my Instructional Assistant and she is pretty adamant in her ways. She worked for the classroom teacher long enough to be used to how HE taught which is very different from the way I currently teach. By the looks of the classroom he left behind, he created his own worksheets by hand and used the xerox machine often. Uhm, not me. Come Monday I will have a discussion with her regarding my methods of teaching, which, as I later discovered was approved by the Department Chair when I presented him a few ideas of how I would teach this class. He pretty much gave the a-ok to teach as I would like, as he has heard about the activities I do from other teachers, so long as it relates to the subject matter.
Time to get creative with math.
This was the 4th time being a Guest Teacher in today’s classroom. High School. English. Never had a problem before, actually, I enjoy this class.
Until today. Apparently the past three times I have been to this class, three of the students were not there. They either went straight to the tardy sweep or were “absent” (students told me they always ditched 6th period). Today, they showed up and I will be in this class for the next two days.
They pulled their “I don’t care, I’m always in detention” card when I said I was going to write them a referral. This would have been my first-referral but with only 15 minutes left in class, writing a referral would be pointless. I did not write the referral.
I was advised that I can write a referral tomorrow for today’s behavior. 6th period. Last class of the day.
Tomorrow, the students will be watching a movie in class and I do not want those three students in the class. I REALLY do not want these students in class. They have a very nonchalant personality, much more unusual than the normal teenager angst. They feed negativity off of each other. I witnessed it annoy the rest of the classroom. These three interrupted other students, used profanity in a different language (they openly told me what they said and what language), and their level of disrespect is none I have seen, and I have worked with some tough and gritty kids!
Anyone have suggestions of how I should handle this tomorrow?
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.