Saturday, October 29, 2011

I've Got The Substitute Blues

Well, I was planning to post more this week, but I did manage to at least get two in.  That's me looking on the bright side!  Fair warning.  I'll be leaving that side in a minute. . .

We had a workshop day on Thursday in the library of our school.  I was very happy because these in-district workshop days are usually held at our central office meaning I don't normally ever see my substitute.   Since I was in the building, I was able to meet with my sub in the morning and go over my plans with her.   I was able to explain each lesson in great detail.  WONDERFUL!   Color me happy when she told me she was a teacher but left a few years ago when she had her son.  A former teacher for my sub?  DELIGHTFUL! Could this be any better?

(Watch out.  Here is where I leave the bright side.)


SO PLEASE TELL ME HOW IT IS THAT ON FRIDAY I FIND OUT MY FRIENDS DID ALMOST NONE OF THE WORK I LEFT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HOW IS IT THAT MY FRIENDS DID A MATH LESSON THAT IS TWO LESSONS AHEAD OF WHERE WE ARE?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Ummm, yeah, I did write down the page numbers I wanted them to do and actually reviewed that lesson in the teacher's guide with her.

HOW IS IT THAT IN A MERE 15 MINUTES MY FRIENDS READ EIGHT, YES EIGHT!, LONG PAGES OF SCIENCE TEXT REGARDING NEWTON'S LAWS OF MOTION?!!  Well, I'm sure they had complete comprehension of that. NOT!

HOW IS IT THAT MY FRIENDS DID A READING LESSON THAT HAD ABSOLUTELY NO VALUE AND IS NOTHING AT ALL THAT I LEFT FOR HER TO DO?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't even know what to say about this.

HOW IS IT THAT THE PLANS I WROTE OUT AND EXPLAINED IN DETAIL TO THE SUB WERE VIRTUALLY IGNORED?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



So, can you figure out what I spent Friday doing?  Yes, all the work that was supposed to be done on Thursday.  My friends were totally confused.  The first thing one of them said to me Friday morning was that he didn't "get any of that science stuff we did yesterday."  It is so frustrating to lose an entire day of instruction this way. 

I'm not bashing substitutes. I think substitutes, lunch aides, and bus drivers are amazing! Those are jobs I know I just wouldn't have the patience for.  As for substitutes,  it has to be incredibly difficult to walk in to an unknown classroom, with a different grade level every day, and be expected to teach cold without knowing the curriculum or the students.  I've had amazing subs, and I've had subs in the past that may have taught a lesson incorrectly or given my friends some incorrect information, but I realize that happens.  No big deal.  This post is not about all those amazing subs that walk into classrooms every day and do their best.   This is about one substitute who completely ignored my plans!

Honestly, can anyone explain how this happens?  I don't leave complicated lessons for substitutes.   I don't ever leave a lesson that I know my friends will need my guidance to fully understand.  I leave work that can be done with a substitute.  How do you explain disregarding the teacher's plans?  Especially considering the fact that I actually explained those plans to her! 

So, what are your substitute experiences?  Am I wrong in my frustration with this particular substitute?  Ughh!  I'm leaving now to try and find that bright side again.  This might require large amounts of baked goods.

Disclaimer:  I am fully aware that many exclamation points were harmed in the writing of this blog post.  While technically one does the job, the frustration level of the author required excessive exclamation use!!!!!!!!!  ;-D

12 comments:

  1. Love your disclaimer...

    I subbed for three years - yes, three. long. years. Here's my take on the whole deal - at least it's what I see happening where I live.

    When I subbed I did it because I wanted a job. Maybe subs today are doing it for some extra cash...and aren't as invested as they once were? I don't know. My best subs are gals who are hoping to get hired in the district. That's not to say retired teachers, and others can't be great - that's just what I've noticed in my particular neck of the woods.

    It's frustrating!!!!!!! (I've been there!!!!)

    Holly
    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

    ReplyDelete
  2. I had the same situation a few years ago. The sub totally ignored my lesson plans and "taught" what she wanted. Even though my lesson plans were simple enough a monkey could do it, and my eighth graders told her that was not what was supposed to be taught, she did her own thing. I reported her to my principal who then said that she would never sub in our school again. True to her word, even in a pinch, that sub was never called again.
    Hoping you can catch up!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Last year I had a sub tell my 5th graders that the homework was optional. Hahaha! What kid is going to do "optional" homework? Thankfully, my kids knew well enough to know that I would NEVER make homework optional, and all but two had it done for the next day.

    This year, after a cross-country move, I am a substitute in hopes of landing another full time teaching job soon. In the meantime, I promise (scouts honor!) that I'm being the best sub I can be and following ALL teacher plans!

    So sorry you had such a bad experience with this one sub! Blech!

    onehoosierteacher.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. It takes me HOURS to write lesson plans. I stop just short of saying "breathe in, breathe out." I explain things clearly and carefully...

    Yet one day last year, I had a sub who replaced science with a four-square free-for-all and handed out the candy on my desk (which was given to me by my secret pal!) to the kids--even though the plans said "Several children have allergies--PLEASE no edibles."

    YIKES! I'm sorry you had to "re-do" your day.

    Kim
    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    ReplyDelete
  5. I had a substitute who elected a "president" and "vice president" of my class last year. Those students were allowed to do whatever they wanted. They could give out behavior card punches [when a ticket has 20 punches its traded in for a prize], so when I came back the next day, I had kids with like 5 newly filled tickets! And on top of that, none of my work was done, and there was no trace of what was actually done. I was livid!

    ReplyDelete
  6. As a sub & teacher, I hear ya. I too left very detailed directions, w/handouts in color coded folders, all in one tub, and I still get apologies that the didn't find what I left. :-{ Twice by retired teachers...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh my! My heart hurts to hear that you had such a horrible sub experience.

    As a substitute, I realize that I am fairly rare. I'm actually in school to get my teaching degree. I get very frustrated when I hear that other substitutes (at least in my schools) are glorified baby-sitters. Because so many subs are that way, I get into a classroom and have "busy work" or "mindless work" for the kids to do.

    I'm very fortunate that I have developed really awesome relationships with many of the teachers at my schools, and many of those teachers have started requesting me specifically. The first thing I always ask for is their lesson plans BEFORE that day if possible. Regardless if the teacher absence was planned or unplanned, I ALWAYS email very specific notes about the classroom absences, behavior, and progress.

    I have been given the opportunity to do some really, really awesome stuff with these kids. I've grown exponentially, and I cherish the opportunities these teachers have afforded me. I really do love what I do. I wish I could say that every substitute was like me. I hope in the future I'm able to get good ones.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I teach SpEd, many of my students have high functioning autism or are ED. I had a sub IA who, when I stepped out of the class, almost came to blows with one of my students (literally) and after I broke it up and asked the sub if everything was ok said, "I could have taken him." I found out later that this same sub once told my students they should start a "retard football team."
    Now, all that I ask of my subs is that they aren't abusive to my kids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so sad. Thank goodness those subs are few and far between! That one obviously didn't get it at all. I'm curius if your district did anything. In my district, we have had certain subs banned from particular schools and even from working in the district again after incidents like the one you have described.

      Delete
  9. I am a relocated teacher that happens to be subbing until I can land full permanent employment.

    With that said, I would like to now say that as such, I am curious as to why you so easily doubt this substitute's intentions and lean so heavily toward the students' assessment or actual tangible/physical result of things. Yes, I am aware that this person did not do what you asked, but I also have to wonder if the students did as they were asked.

    So many times I have walked into a room where the students readily admit that they fool around for subs and would never treat their own teacher that way.

    Though I do not condone the fact that your lesson plans were largely ignored, I will say that subbing is hard work--harder than many teachers even realize. Sometimes you just have to get through a day with difficult people (both students and adults). Sometimes the plans are just unworkable (not saying that yours were). I am just saying that sometimes what is on paper does not translate to what is reality.

    ReplyDelete
  10. And one more thing: In my district, substitutes must be degreed AND are often teachers themselves. Some have master's degrees.

    This statement--"I'm not bashing substitutes. I think substitutes, lunch aides, and bus drivers are amazing!"--where you lump the person that is supposed to "be you" for a day into the same category with the person who slings the hash or transports is rather a suspect one. As we all do "jobs [you] know [you] just wouldn't have the patience for," perhaps it is that understanding that you might apply to that substitute's day. Honestly, who knows what they went through?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anon,
      I appreciate that you took the time to respond to my post. I absolutely understand the difficult job substitutes have and I had hoped that was clear in my post. I was commenting on the actions of one particular sub. I don't think I was lumping substitutes in with lunch aides and bus drivers in a negative way. I was looking at it as people who work with multitudes of different children on a daily basis unlike classroom teachers who essentially see the same students each day. I would also never disrespect lunch aides by calling them hash slingers.

      I have had many substitutes over the years and have never had major issues with any but this one. I am well aware of how difficult their job is and well aware that my students may not behave the same way they do when I am with them. I certainly don't expect perfection from a substitute, but it isn't too much to expect that at least some of what I left to be done is done. As I wrote, this post was not about the many, many wonderful substitutes I have had over the years but about one that just didn't do the job. At all.

      From your two responses, the fact that you seem to be a very compassionate person comes through. I think that is a wonderful quality to bring into the classroom and hope you find a permanent position soon.

      Best of luck!
      Nancy

      Delete