Tag Archives: discipline

A Temporary 4th Down and Goal

I was almost tempted to walk out of the school today with my arms outstretched in a symbol of triumph. But honestly, that level of personal fanfare would have been in highly egregious taste. All things considered, this final week of this temporary substitution assignment went well. The students (well most of them) seemed disappointed that I would be done after Friday, though I wonder how many of them just weren’t friendly with the original teacher. But that really isn’t my concern, I put in a solid month in the classroom as I was asked and hopefully the students learned a thing or two. And the experience will look good on my resume and I should have a decent reference from the school in the future. Now on to the daily reflections:

 

Day 16-

In some ways I hate Mondays (as I should, being a self-proclaimed Garfieldian) but in others I look forward to them. Often, the students are more subdued because of their weekend wariness and generally less disruptive. However, I am also just as tired and can drag my feet for most of the day. I told all of my Science classes why the previous week had been so packed with activities and assignments, and many of them seems to acknowledge the reasons and accept the explanation as a form of apology for working them so hard. I still have an underlying problem of disrespect from some students, and sadly many of these students I have in more than one class. I actually busted out the “coach” voice to silence my 7th period. Many of the students seemed astonished that I could be so loud, or project my voice so well. As middle schoolers, they usually don’t realize how long they are being until you raise the volume one step further. I don’t like yelling at anyone, much less students, but sometimes you need to be a drill sergeant to get respect. The thought crossed my mind today that I might be very disappointed if I need to come back after Spring Break is over, even though that two week break would be nice either way.

Day 17-

Today was a whirlwind. I had two boys get into a scuffle (some might call it a fight, but there was little real aggression involved) during my 2nd period which quickly resulted in a bloody nose. Both boys spent the day in the office but I doubt either felt sorry for what transpired. Even if they were just goofing around, as soon as there’s blood it’s gone too far. My Science classes did an activity with sugar cubes and although they struggled to keep track of all 64 given to them per bag, I don’t believe anyone ate one. Which to be honest would have been rather disgusting because the sugar cubes have been handled by who knows how many grubby hands and picked up unknown bacteria from the table surfaces. I had a girl (one who has never show me respect and obviously doesn’t like me) mouth off to me in Math Lab, so I wrote her up and sent her to the office. Her attitude isn’t likely to change or improve, but I drew a line and she crossed it. And probably not for the last time…

Day 18-

The home stretch is within sight! With only three days left, I can feel a change in my spirit and attitude towards each class. On one hand, the students are starting to anticipate Spring Break and getting antsy and on the other, I’m ready to get back to the crazy life of a day-to-day sub. Most of the classes this week have been fairly low-key and the Science classes are keeping pace with the content I had planned for the week. I’ve hung the “carrot” of a fun day on Friday to encourage them to stay focused on taking notes and completing their work, but there are still students falling behind on their homework. My PLTW class is been very enjoyable to teach and so far I have been impressed with their Invention presentations. One student is a little behind but he also missed the first day the class had to work on their presentations. The Math Labs are basically a study hall as the new students only received their logins today and the rest of the students have kinda burnt out. As long as they are doing something productive and not running around the room like animals, I’m content to play monitor. This also gives me extra time to grade and even read. Since grading and planning have been minimal for this week, I should be able to wrap up the week pretty quick. I’ve warned the students that any missing work not turned in before Spring Break could result in a zero, but what I didn’t tell them is that not doing the work would also mean they’d miss out on the “Funday” Friday. And to be honest, I don’t want to leave a lot of missing work for the returning teacher to track down as soon as she returns after Spring Break.

Day 19-

In most of my classes, today was the final day of actual instruction, except PLTW. Tomorrow will just be a fun day and I told students to feel free to bring in snacks or card games to play. I decided to make Friday a fun day partially because it will be my final day as their temporary sub and also it’ll be Spring Break and I really didn’t feel like planning another lesson. I really this makes me a little lazy but with all the late and missing work to track down, that gives me enough to worry about. It’s basically like pulling teeth with some of these students because, despite giving them the equivalent of lunch detention for more than one day, they still haven’t turned in much of their missing work. I’ve already written up one student for failing to do his homework and will probably write up a couple more before I leave the school tomorrow. I’m actually starting to look forward to not worrying about grading and missing work, as well as no longer having to deal with some of the poor attitudes and lack of responsibility some of these students have displayed.

Day 20-

Last day, last day, last day! As today is a “Fun day Friday”, I literally sat at my desk and read my book while students played card games or on laptops. Any student who had late work got sent to the library to work on it, and this realization seemed to motivate many of them to actually do the assignments. A couple students still dragged their feet and accomplished almost nothing, and these are the same students who have given me headaches the entirety of this temporary assignment. At least I can say I tried to get these students to do their homework but ultimately it is not my responsibility to make them do it. If they want to be defiant, then they must accept the consequence of a failing grade. I made use of my extra time to do all my grading and got the returning teacher caught up with each class’ progress and highlighted any special considerations (such as students who might give her trouble after Spring Break) before turning in my keys and leaving the building. The weather outside was absolutely perfect and matched the warm feeling I had walking away from what proved a challenging but enjoyable experience.

 

Well that wraps it up, unless something drastic happens to the returning teacher in the next two weeks that prevents her from returning and I’ll need to step back in. I’m praying that won’t happen, but I guess if it does then you lovely folks will get a bonus round! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these reflections, and if this is the first of my posts you’ve read feel free to check out some of the older posts as well. Cheers!

 

 

S.D.G.

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Third Times the (Temporary) Charm

Week three has come and gone, and I’d be lying if I’m didn’t say I’m glad I’m reaching the end of this assignment. It’s been hard trying to integrate myself into a school environment nearly 3/4 of the way through an academic year, and the students’ attitude towards me kinda reflects that. Many of the students warmed up to me after a week or so, but the “problem” students almost got worse, and certainly didn’t really improve much. There’s a whole lot I could talk about here, that would expand way beyond the school environment as a whole, so I feel it is fair to say that I have nothing against this school, its students, or the environment, but rather that I wish to recognize how difficult the circumstances surrounding this assignment has been for me to really establish myself in the classroom and with my students. It also doesn’t help that Daylight Savings Time now forces me to wake up when it’s still dark out, and I definitely start out each day pretty glum. But on to the daily reflections:

Day 11-

Today was the start of a new quarter, which means changes in some classes and a “clean slate” for many students. The overall downside to this period of transition is that my 7th grade Math Lab class got even bigger, and most of the students they added have already given me headaches in other classes. It only compounds the control issues I have with this class that the new students do not have access to the online program they are supposed to be using for this remedial math class, which means it’s basically a study hall. I’m about to blitz a mini-unit on fossils and dating the earth’s layers to finish out our Earth Science portion of Science 7 in order to take the Acuity test at the end of the week, which is honestly a lot to try to do for the start of a new quarter. But honestly, the only way I can see to maintain control in any of my classes is to constantly have work for them to do. I am excited to be teaching a new Project Lead The Way class, which is basically Intro to Engineering for 7th grade, because I’ll be learning just as much as most of the students. Hopefully this week isn’t as taxing as it appears it might be.

Day 12- 

I honestly have nothing new to say that hasn’t been beaten into the ground. Dealing with disrespectful students and poor attitudes has just become routine at this point, and I’m starting to count the days until Spring Break. There are a couple students who constantly toe the line of being sent to the office, and I might just have to make it their new home for the last week, because they do practically nothing productive in my class. Again I’m reminded how difficult a situation I was thrown into at the start of this assignment, and I’m honestly just doing all I can to teach the students who want to learn and ignore those who don’t care anymore.

Day 13-

Today was probably the worst day I have had so far of this assignment. Not only did I have a headache all day, but certain students seemed to be doing everything they could to only increase my discomfort. Science and PLTW are going fine, but the Math Labs are almost pointless. Students don’t want to work and those who are have about hit the ceiling of their ability anyway. I sent one student to the office today because we watched an educational video explaining a key concept to the day’s lesson, during which he was obviously not paying attention and goofing off, and, after it finished, was very disrespectful when I tried to get feedback from the class. To be honest, he got the short end of the stick because I was already tired from my headache, a lack of sleep, and the previous period, but his behavior was still uncalled for and very disruptive. I feel very out of place in my desire to explain to some of these students why their behavior is uncalled for because most of them haven’t been shown differently and they already lack the respect necessary for my authority for that explanation to have much of an impact.

Day 14-

Today I was just sore, and wanted a break. I did a review trivia game with my Science classes to help them get ready for the Acuity test, which is always a highlight for me because I love trivia and competition always seems to get kids interested in the activity. The students seemed to like the competitive nature of the review, so as far as the classes go, today went pretty well. But come the end of the day I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I actually put off any grading because I just wanted to go home and rest. This assignment as given me valuable experience for being a full-time teacher, and a greater appreciation for building relationships with the students from the first week.

Day 15- 

If I’ve said it before then I don’t want to say it again. So the sparknotes of today are as follows: Math Labs were just a period to get through, Science was all about the Acuity test, and PLTW was a project workday. This meant I had plenty of time to work on catching up on grading, so I was able to leave the school at a pretty decent time. Plus Fridays are a tad shorter, so the only work I had to do was get my lesson plans for Monday ready and I was home free for the weekend. However I had an incredibly frustrating situation occur during my 4th period Science class (which if you’ve been reading these reflections you’d know this is the largest class I have). I caught two male students, who sit in the corner, working on something other than the Acuity test while they were “taking” the test. This honestly could’ve been grounds for cheating, as I told each class that I should see only two tabs on their laptops, music and the test. Yet these two boys decided whatever else they were doing was more important than the Acuity test and I about lost it. I confronted them and they seemed to have no idea why I has upset. I reported the incident to the Jr High counselor, so it’s no longer in my hands but still I struggle to find any logical reason behind why these students thought what they were doing was acceptable.

 

So three weeks down, and one to go. And this week I earn a full-time teacher’s salary! My bank account will be happy haha. I apologize to those of you who looked for this post yesterday but I just needed 24 hours to unwind before reflecting on everything that happened in the classroom this week. Hopefully next week goes better and I receive the good news from the teacher I am covering for that she will indeed be back after Spring Break, which she should know on Monday. And in all things, dear reader, I hope this has been as entertaining for you to read as it is therapeutic for me to write. Cheers!

 

 

S.D.G.

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Secondary Minutes in the Life of a Temp

I can honestly say there’s a noticeable difference between how last week and this week has gone. Not only is the daily schedule fairly normalized as ISTEP testing is all but over, but also that many of the students have accepted me as their new teacher for the next few weeks. It goes without saying that some students are still a handful, but at least I’m in a better place to handle those disruptions now than I was last week. So on to the day by day!

Day 6-

I just realized that this week the dates actually coincide with the number of days I have been on this assignment. Crazy huh? As far as Monday’s go, today wasn’t too bad, but some students are really toeing the line with me. I decided to try to entice my Math Labs to work harder by offering them a reward if they can maintain a good average for learning across the week, so we’ll see if that actually worked or not. Things do feel a little subdued at the school today, which could either be due to it being the final day of ISTEP for 7th grade or just because it’s the beginning of a new week. It’d be nice if this level of lethargy sticks around for the rest of the week , but that’s probably wishful thinking haha.

Day 7-

Still can’t quite get over the fact that the days line up the way they do, maybe it just appeals to my peculiar sense of number structures. Sadly, this thought was about the only entertaining thing about my day. I officially put my foot down in my science classes, basically telling them to “sit down, settle down, and shut up”. In general, each class has a few students who struggle to contain their talkativeness and end up carrying on conversations while I am trying to teach, which is extremely disrespectful and disruptive. I told every class that this little speech I gave was their final warning and if I had to stop class to reprimand them for being disruptive, it’d be a write-up. If they continued such behavior after this, they’d go to the office. To be honest, the fact that some students haven’t already been sent to the office already shows a great deal of leniency on my part. I really don’t want to send students to the office, especially on days I’m covering new material, but I’m also certainly not afraid to start writing up students who still don’t handle themselves in a proper manner.

Day 8-

Well I definitely called it. Sent one student to the office today and wrote up another for talking. These two students, in particular, fall into a category of students that are self-absorbed and not very socially conscious of their behavior and honestly I hope they learn something from my time at this school because I’ll probably be pretty hard on them from time to time. It might be tough love, but I do believe I’m doing it for their ultimate good. Overall however, most of the students seem to have responded positively to my speech yesterday and are much better behaved and respectful to classroom operations. Another problem I’m facing now is a host of students who have missing or late work. I’m not entirely sure how this school handles such situations, but I need to find out so I can get those grades in before the window closes for the nine weeks. Several students will have lunch detention in order to get those assignments done, but I just need to figure out who to notify about that. I also need to find more ways to accommodate for students with special needs and/or learning disabilities, but I have almost no information to work with there. It’s easy to forget how hastily I was brought into this position and in many ways I’m playing a lot of catch-up when it comes to school policies and operations. Thankfully, the teacher I am covering for is very organized with her lesson plans, so the content really is the least of my worries.

Day 9-

Today was super laid-back because many of the Jr High was gone on a reward trip for keeping up with their homework and grades. However that did mean the students left behind were usually the “difficult” ones to begin with. But because I had significantly less students in every class, I was able to focus on certain students and get to know some of them a little better, which hopefully helps build respect between myself and the students in general. My math labs are barely short of meeting their goal for the week and earning the reward (donuts for my morning class and cookies for the afternoon). My planning for the end of the Earth Science super-unit is taking shape and I just need to setup a time for the students to take the Earth Science Acuity test, most likely next Friday. But before that, I need to teach them about fossils, which I find to be a very dated topic…

Day 10-

I was really glad today is the end of the week and that classes are just a little shorter. Not only was I up late last night for a “skype date” but also I need a break from some of these students. Especially the ones in my 7th grade Math Lab, I mean I had to write-up one girl for hitting another student on top of the head, one boy for always antagonizing other students into creating disruptions, and a third for throwing pencils and paper across the room. I hate to put it this way, but I barely tolerated being at school tonight because I was heading out of town to see my brothers (and their wives) this weekend. It’s always meaningful for me to see my brothers, because in many ways they understand me better than anyone else I know, including most of my friends. My Science classes did a practice test over the unit we just completed, and the only reason I didn’t collect it for a grade is because I did NOT want to do any grading this weekend. Not that I wouldn’t have the time, but I just didn’t want to do anything school related for a couple days. That said, I might go in on Sunday to put the finishing touches on my lesson plans for my fossils mini-unit, but I might just need a nap instead haha.

 

Well folks, two weeks down in this assignment, and probably two more to go. The teacher I’m covering for is hopefully she’ll be able to come back a couple days before the school lets out for spring break (which is two weeks long!) but even if she did, I’d probably stay and teach for those last couple days (cuz I’m poor and that last week I’ll be on full-time teacher pay!). Thanks again for reading along and if you are the praying sort, I’d certainly appreciate some! Cheers and God bless!

 

 

S.D.G.

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First Reflections of a Bewildered Temp

So it’s that time folks, venting time. Okay, I kid (somewhat), my first week as a temporary sub wasn’t THAT bad. The teacher I’m covering for is VERY organized and has numerous lesson plans for every lesson of every unit. So the content worries I had (being a history teacher trying to teach science) were slightly lessened. On the other hand, some of the students I have are considerably difficult but I’ll get to some of those stories soon. I actually chronicled my thoughts on each day so below is a relatively unabridged version of those reflections.

Day 1-

Honestly, today went better than I thought it would. The first day with a new teacher always seems to bring out the worst in some students, but I only ended up sending just one student to the office. I later learned said student has ADHD, which would explain the randomness of his actions, but I still wanted to set a precedent that goofing off would not be tolerated. I decided to have all of the 7th grade Science classes write down a question they’d like me to ask, so that they could get to know me a little better. After all, they’re stuck with me for the next four weeks. The Math Labs (remedial classes) are pretty easy, since I’m basically just a glorified babysit and don’t really teach much of anything. However, because this is a remedial class, it means many of the students have learning disabilities and/or attitude problems. The Project Lead The Way (PLTW) class is basically an intro to engineering and 3D modeling class and, since they’ve been at it for 7 weeks, they are pretty much teaching themselves at this point. The Science classes do prove a bit unruly and science isn’t my favorite subject nor my best, it’ll take some time to build confidence and for the students to get used to my personal teaching style. But once that happens, I’m pretty excited to “science the shit” out of the next couple weeks haha.

Day 2-

Today was pretty chaotic still as I’m learning about the students and their personalities. I managed to avoid sending any students to the office, but I probably have ISTEP testing to take for that more than an improvement in student behavior. I’m slowly developing a rhythm for my day as I’m figuring out my lessons and planning out instruction to occupy them. However I must admit my mind is drifting elsewhere throughout the day as I’m meeting a friend tonight for an important conversation. Thankful ISTEP allowed the day to go pretty smoothly as the number of students in each class was significantly smaller, so being slightly distracted by the evening’s anticipation did not detract much from my instruction. Probably the most exciting thing that happened today at school was learning how to write up discipline reports. Which actually came in handy, since I found out the student I told to go to the office didn’t actually go to the office but instead hid in the bathroom for the entire period. The experience of writing him up for this was kinda important if I want to establish the fact that I desire to be stern in my disciplinary style and maintain consistency across all my classes. But at the same time, I want the students to know I do this, not because I want to make their lives miserable and ruin all their fun, but because I value their education very highly (and probably higher than they do themselves).

Day 3-

Man, today was long! It most certainly didn’t help that due to a raging storm and a ill-timed train I didn’t get much sleep last night. ISTEP is still in full-swing so students are having to adjust to shifted schedules. I had a talk with my 5th period Science class explaining that due to ISTEP I’m actually being rather lenient with them when it comes to discipline. This may prove important because there is a specific group of boys in this class who tend to lack any form of impulse control and randomly disrupt class. I don’t doubt I’ll end up sending a couple of them to the office before the end of my time here. The Jr High counselor actually stopped by the classroom, which was very encouraging for me to know I had the support of the authority figures in the main office. My first assignments are being turned in, so I now have a daily stack of grading to get through before I can leave each day. Which I don’t really mind, but it’s very odd for me to leave the school at 4:30 and it’s basically deserted. This is completely different than my experience as a student teaching. Maybe it’s just because it’s ISTEP week, but something sends up a flag in the back of my mind when most of the teachers are out of the building less than 30 minutes after the last class ends. I mean I get having social and family obligations, but leaving so soon almost feels like you’re fleeing the premises, and that brings up questions about the overall environment. These thoughts just add to all of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately, especially with everything God has been doing in my life and the people He’s using to teach me, family, friends, and now students.

Day 4-

Today did not get off to a good start, but mostly because I was almost late! I hit the snooze button on my alarm WAY too many times haha. So not only was I almost late, but my usual levels of being “slunk” (because I am not a morning person naturally) were being exceeded. This level of lethargy is usually paired with an oncoming illness but I really just think my body is trying to get caught up on the new schedule and routine. Still in ISTEP, so the students did an in-class project with a partner. Unfortunately with any group work, there’s always at least one student who just doesn’t try to help or needs to just do the project on their own. Sadly, this attitude of lack of effort isn’t just found in my science classes. I have one female student in particular that I have in three separate classes who rarely tries and has a very defeatist attitude. I ended up sending an email to the principal and Jr High counselor expressing my concerns about the apparent attitude problems in the 7th grade math lab in particular, and mentioned this female student by name as one of the worst offenders. The hardest part about doing the math labs is that I don’t actually have any say in the students’ final grade, so my ability to enforce discipline is greatly diminished. For example, I had one student spend the entire period on Google Earth and despite my frequent intervention through remotely closing his window, he’d just reopen it and continue. This is the sort of behavior in my time as a student that would have gotten students a trip to the office to meet the thick end of a paddle, but schools can’t do that anymore…

Day 5-

So I managed to nearly repeat my tardiness from yesterday, but this time it was due to a nice and long hot shower. I’m hoping I manage to arrive at school on Monday at an earlier time, because tardiness is not a habit I wish to develop, in any area of my life. I’m usually that guy who shows up five minutes before the established time. Maybe it’s just been a long week with ISTEP testing and being in a new and unfamiliar environment that’s sapping my energy levels. If I had to pick something, the only real highlight of my week is the time I spent with friends and the excellent conversations I had. Hopefully Monday is more “normal” and that this weekend proves helpful in resting my mind, body, and spirit. Which considering Major League Soccer starts this weekend, I might not do much more than watch soccer all weekend haha.

 

Well one week of being a temp in the bag, and three more to go (at least). With the end of a quarter looming ahead (next Friday), I might find myself in desperate need of carefree fun and fellowship. Considering my sister-in-law is having a birthday party next Friday, I might just get exactly that! Thanks for reading this reflection piece and have a great weekend y’all!

 

 

S.D.G.

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