How do I maintain their attention? I’m a substitute teacher doing the early grades (K-4) for the first time.
Take it easy when you walk into the room.
Check out who is where. If they want to chat you up for a few minutes, it is worth the while because you get more done later. These kids know they are
capable of making your day hell. You don’t have to be their friend, in fact they will disrespect you if you try that one. Have a briefcase chock full of things for them to do. Call it busy work if you want, they can still learn from it. Have the papers in your hand so that when a student is finished with one, you slap another into their hand.
Don’t give them 20 seconds to start chatting up their friends.
No complicated rules on the board, they will try to “beat” the system and you will spend half your time listening to how unfair it all is. No swearing, No shouting, No touching.
I never argue with students. I call them mr. and ms. I don’t ever touch a student, for any reason. And I very seldom raise my voice, choosing to ignore the usual cursing, retorts, and in your face blabber. I also refuse to discuss my personal life, and never talk about religion, sex, or politics, unless it’s a social studies class. If you have a class leader who controls the other kids, they can help you pass out papers. You will
almost always want these types on your side.
I tolerate a certain level of noise when the kids are working, once in a while a teacher will drop in to see what the fuss is all about.
In three years I had to call the principal in once. I sent maybe a half dozen kids to the vice principal or dean.
I never lost my temper. If i’M not calm and in control of the class who is?
Always leave a nice note for the teacher
and try to play down the discipline problems. The kids will appreciate and respect that and remember the next time you come in. So will the deans. The more you work in the same class, the easier it gets. They respect seeing you regularly at the same school.
I remember when kids would see me coming down the hall and I would observe them taking pencils out of backpacks. Then greet me as they got prepared to work.
Most times I give the kids a few minutes
to chat among themselves, listen to music quietly, or work on homework..Only as a reward for doing good work during the class, not automatic.
Special ed kids are just that. If you choose to, you can spend the class disciplining and struggling to maintain control. Relax. Use the same formula you use in a regular class. Lots of papers to connect dots, little math things and even coloring. Also kids in special-ed respond to treats, maybe that has changed. I used to bring things with no sugar, you have to be creative. They also demand to be heard. I give them a few minutes to get it out of their system.
Wouldn’t you know it. I became a licensed psychologist. I ended up working for the government and teaching at the university level. I learned more about negotiation and my own weaknesses
and strengths as a sub, than anywhere.
The truly easy classes are the students
who are self directed and these kids can teach us alot. Of course for these and other advanced classes, forget the bz work. The teacher will have a plan and wants it followed. These classes, too are a delight.
I wish you luck. Much of what i learned was from a one day workshop for substitutes. It was well worth the Saturday and $80.00. Feel free to keep lines of communications open.
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