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sub comforts
wenesday, december 8, 2004

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i really enjoy subbing at taz's school. part of it is being able to see him and how much he enjoys seeing me. i don't think there's much that can beat the joyful cry of, "mom!" and the hugs and kisses that follow it. but my son's joyful presence isn't the only reason i like working there.

this is one of those warm "warm," comfortable schools i've mentioned before. the staff is friendly, and most of the teams are very supportive of their subs. i have subbed on a team where the members were less friendly than most in the school, but the overwhelming majority have welcomed me and offered support as needed. and this is especially true of teams where the kids are a little more difficult or high energy than the usual. i have never felt abandoned or left on my own there.

the kids also seem to be better behaved overall. that's not to say there aren't troublemakers or attitude problems, just that they seem to know there's only so far they can push. i have had to send kids to another classroom or recommend a referral or detention, but it is extremely rare for me to have to do so for more than one kid in the same class. in general, i make my rules clear at the beginning of class, have an occasional reminder, and that's about it. i'm sure a lot of that has to do with the attitude of the staff. knowing that a "mere" sub can call on another teacher almost immediately can put quite a damper on any misbehavior. not being able to get away with anything pretty much puts the idea of seriously trying out the window.

but most of the time i don't need any help at all at taz's school. i tend to be pretty strict and i make that clear from the very beginning. really, i don't take anything from my own kids, who i love more than anything; i certainly won't take anything from a bunch of kids i don't know. besides, the kids tend to think they can get away with more with a sub anyway, and i certainly don't want to encourage that particular misconception. i know a lot of subs make no effort to maintain control at all. i'm not one of them and i make that clear from the get-go. i let them know i'm strict, that i expect them to do their work and do it quietly, that i will not hesitate to change the assignment due date to the end of the class period that day, that i will move kids to help them resist the temptation to talk, that i will write names down for the regular teacher to deal with, that i will move them to another classroom, and that i will use the panic button to bring in an administrator if necessary. i also let them know that i write very detailed notes to their teachers about how the class went (i have yet to write less than 2 pages, with one page being front and back - and i write on the small side).

at taz's school, this approach generally works. oh, there's some testing - they wouldn't be kids if they didn't check the boundaries occasionally, but usually all it takes is for that assignment to become due at the end of class or for that first kid to get moved to another desk or removed from the class. it's rare for them to push beyond that point. not only does the school have a way of dealing with it that can be unpleasant (detentions, suspension, etc), but the district itself has a process as well, and the district process can be even more unpleasant - even going so far as the kid ending up in juvenile hall. why it all work so well at taz's school and often not so well at other schools, i don't know.

monday's assignment was just miserable. yesterday wasn't as bad, but it was still a tough day, especially since i had to come up with my own specific plans for the class. today was the start of at least a 2 day assignment at taz's school. it was nice to be able to get the kids to work and not have to constantly be on top of them, to only have to warn or give a reminder to work quietly once or twice. i come home from his school a lot less tired, a lot less frazzled, and feeling . . . more appreciated. it makes for a very good work day.

really, if i had my choice, i'd only work at taz's school. unfortunately, they have yet to need me every day, so that's not an option. so i just have to enjoy these sub comforts while i can.

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