Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sub Hell

So, jobs have been hard to come by lately. Perhaps teachers are taking fewer days off in the month after Christmas break, or perhaps since I've been exercising and knitting more I haven't been able to put the same effort into looking for them. It's probably a combination of the two, honestly. In any case, I haven't been working as much lately and this worries me. This worry led me to take a job for a vacant position yesterday. This meant that I would be going into a class for which they had no regular teacher. The subject was math.

When I got to the school, the principal's secretary informed me that there should be lesson plans in the room and they were looking for a long term sub for the job. My ears perked up at the possibility, but I held my tongue. Quite wisely, I decided to see how the students were before asking for more information on the job possibility.

When I got to the room I found that there were indeed lesson plans there. I fastidiously wrote the student's assignments on the board (this was sixth and seventh graders) and created an in-box for them to turn in assignments. When the room was ready, I went out into the hall to do what I always do - ask the teachers around me for assistance in case I had an unruly child throughout the day. I've found it's a good idea to ask those around me for help BEFORE I run into problems. While I was doing this, the teachers informed me that I would have a very hard day ahead of me. These students had been without a teacher for three weeks and they were completely out of control. They wished me luck with pity in their eyes. This couldn't be a good sign.

From the very first period (out of six I would see that day), things were a complete disaster. My good pencil and pen were stolen before the bell for first period had even rung. That's never happened to me before. The students themselves were a nightmare. The notion of getting them to do an assignment was a complete joke. They were loud, aggressive and out of control the entire time they were in my classroom. Apparently, they've had several subs go through this class and not stick around because of the bad behavior. Heck, their own teacher retired in the middle of the year! I didn't stand a chance.

Here's some highlights from my day in hell:

1. Students opening the emergency window and attempting to jump out of it (Luckily we were on the first floor).

2. A student yelled at me for trying to get her to sit down.

3. Students sneaking out of the classroom.

4. Yelling, screaming, standing on desks and running around all period.

5. Kids beating on each other.

6. Complete and utter disregard for my presence in the room.

When behaviors like this are going on, me yelling and screaming at students does little to nothing to calm the situation. I know how to be a total bitch to kids and scare them straight. That tactic did no good here. It was all I could do to keep everyone as safe as possible in the classroom and wait for the day to run out. It wears you down. I am not paid well enough to scream myself hoarse for 45 minutes per period to little brats that are so far across the line of respectable behavior that they can't see it any more.

It's sad to me that this was the school day for these kids. Mixed in with the morons are kids that actually want to learn. They are the ones missing out on an education. This points to a problem with how schools treat substitutes. They figure that as long as a sub is in the room, they've covered their asses. Never mind how unrealistic it may be for one sub to handle the problems a classroom might have, as long as a warm body is in the room they figure that's good enough.

The situation yesterday was unsafe. Plain and simple. Administrators at this school knew that the class was a problem, and they actually came by a few times throughout the day to check on the kids. However, staying in the classroom for two minutes does nothing. The students resume bouncing off the walls the second they leave. This classroom needed more than one sub, or a sub with backup, like the school resource officer. To throw a sub into a classroom like that unprepared is irresponsible and unprofessional. Remember, I never would have known the situation was as bad as it was if I hadn't went outside my room, on my own volition, and talked to the teachers around me. The administration did nothing to prepare me for this.

If one of those little bastards had hurt themselves or someone else, it would have been my ass. If they had fallen out of the window and broken a leg or stabbed someone with a pencil, it would have been my fault. I deeply resent being put in that situation. This class had run off two long term subs, one of them a big coach. The school knows that the situation in that classroom is in crisis and they didn't do anything to help me. They would prefer to let the students run a riot everyday I guess.

Oh well, it's behind me now. All I can do is learn from the situation. I now know that I should NEVER take a job for a vacant position. I have also seen the very worst the job can get and I survived. I can handle anything now. Learning to accept the fact that my best isn't good enough in all situations is tough. I want to be a professional and succeed in everything I do. Some classrooms can not be tamed, especially if you're only coming in for one day. I can't change the world in one school day. No one can.

The worst thing about the whole situation? I didn't get to crochet anything yesterday. I didn't dare take anything out of my sub bag with the sticky fingers in that classroom!

No comments:

Post a Comment