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Fri Sep 16, 2022, 10:41 PM

I'd like DU'ers opinions about my work situation today....

Last edited Fri Sep 16, 2022, 11:47 PM - Edit history (1)

(I realize this is a long and sometimes rambling post but it's ended up being therapeutic for me). Here goes:

I'm a full-time permanent substitute teacher. What that means to me is I'm out of the career college arena I've been in for the majority of my career. For the most part, I've very much enjoyed my work because most of the schools where I've been were ethical and truly helped change young adults' lives by enabling them to have careers without the four-year college route.

I've been with career colleges where most of the programs were in I.T. and Health Care. I held upper-level management positions (within the schools). I've formed life-long friendships with my peers and boss (I've had an absolutely wonderful woman as my boss at several different schools for a majority of my career).

In 2018, I accepted a position as the Director of Graduate Services at a school where a former co-worker was. Working at that particular school was a very unpleasant experience (due, in part, to the owner being a two-faced a**hole and, of course, a big Trumpster).

The final straw was him asking me (in a round-about way) to falsify documents. I very graciously turned in my notice and said it was because I wanted to get back into the classroom with students.

I LOVE substitute teaching and have decided this will be my career until I'll be able to retire with my full Social Security benefits on 3/1/24.

I substitute for grades K-5th and 9th-12th (which is elementary school and high school). I WON'T substitute for middle-schoolers. I simply can NOT connect with this age-group and have had horrible experiences. I've taken all middle-schools off of my preference listings.

I normally teach at one high school that I love, and I'm their preferred sub. That's where I spend most of my time. Today was a professional development day for the teachers and there were no students so I didn't have an assignment.

Anyway, on to today.....I got an alert at around 5:30 a.m. this morning (which is "normal" for most subs) for an assignment at a school where I've been before. The alerts list the school, the teacher and the grade. It was clearly marked as a 5th grade class (and since I've taught there before I knew it to be an elementary school).

Well, due to COVID, they ended up adding a middle-school to their campus. When I arrived and showed the Assistant Principal my assignment, she said something like, "oh, that's not a 5th grade class those are 6th and 8th graders." My heart sank. and I explained to her that I don't sub for middle-schoolers. She pretty much blew me off, and I ended up taking the classes. IT WAS THE NIGHTMARE THAT I REMEBER MIDDLE-SCHOOLERS TO BE (I realize that some teachers are fine with these grades but no matter what I try to do it ends up just being a horrible experience).

I made it through the day but I got ready for bed as soon as I got home because my Fibromyalgia is through the roof right now (and I know it's due to the stress- I'm physically and psychologically effed up).

I realize this is a long post but it really helps me to get it down. Having said that, I have a question for my wise fellow DU'ers:

When I got to the site this morning and found out that the class was middle-schoolers, should I have left?
Should I have called the agency in which I work and tell them what was going on? The chances are very high that my representative would have told me I had to stay or it would be a mark against me.

The agency where I'm employed (and how I receive my assignments) has really been great and certainly none of this was any fault of theirs. In fact, I think the school may have intentionally marked the class as 5th grade because almost every sub I know WON'T take middle-school assignments!

I realize today was "just one day" but I'm actually laid up now (although my Fibromyalgia pain has diminished because I've taken my supplements and OTC pain meds). I'd just appreciate anyone who's interested in giving me their feed-back.

Thank you....

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply I'd like DU'ers opinions about my work situation today.... (Original post)
Upthevibe Sep 16 OP
TheBlackAdder Sep 16 #1
Upthevibe Sep 16 #6
Tetrachloride Sep 16 #9
TheBlackAdder Sep 17 #16
Tetrachloride Sep 16 #2
Upthevibe Sep 16 #4
OAITW r.2.0 Sep 16 #3
Upthevibe Sep 16 #5
OAITW r.2.0 Sep 16 #8
Bread and Circuses Sep 16 #7
Upthevibe Sep 17 #12
jmbar2 Sep 16 #10
Upthevibe Sep 17 #11
jmbar2 Sep 17 #13
Upthevibe Sep 17 #14
jmbar2 Sep 17 #15
XanaDUer2 Sep 17 #17

Response to Upthevibe (Original post)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 10:47 PM

1. Middle School is the worst. The tweenage angst, anger and sexual frustration create a toxic brew.

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Response to TheBlackAdder (Reply #1)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 11:19 PM

6. TheBlackAdder......

There is ABSOLUTELY nothing that I can do with them.

They don't want you to be nice (it's "uncool) and if you're strict, they gang up on you.

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Response to Upthevibe (Reply #6)

Response to Upthevibe (Reply #6)

Sat Sep 17, 2022, 03:09 AM

16. I was reflecting and reading the other posts to your OP.


I'm over 60, and I started late with 4 kids. I was reflecting back on my K-12 years, and I remember how hard the substitutes had it. We, including myself, would give them a hard time every so often. Like everyone else, I was a dick in middle school and wish I cold turn it all back. It wasn't the sub, it was the fact they were transients or on TDY and there just to fill a void. The longer-term subs we got to like, but it's almost like the first few days of school when everyone is trying to figure out each other and what the limits students could get away with.

I would just camp out in class, ignore the ruffians and just be there for the 30% who probably want to learn. Lean more on being the cool teacher that everyone like. But, like everything else, there's give and take. It seems with some kids, they need 2-3 interactions in a class before they settle down. If the students want Joe Cool, they have to deserve it, else Joe Jerkwad shows up. When my kids were in school, some of the students would do what you said and gang up on a teacher and make bogus claims and try to get them kicked out. They were successful to get rid of one regular 9th grade teacher before she got tenure. So I get what you are saying about being ganged up on.

Logical & Physical Consequences (Parenting Coach friend showed us this trick and it works wonders):
Kids are just like adults in the workforce. They will always opt for the path of least resistance, so you create funnels to guide them. Make it so that deviations from your desired path are met with consequences. Kids respond very well to logical and physical consequences. They will resist a Consequence Plan for the first two or three weeks, but after that, they will realize it's the new reality and they'll slowly stop resisting. If they participate in class, less homework. If the class is a waste, then it's time for them to hit the books a little more at home.

The few who ruin it for the rest will be resolved between the kids, as they won't put up with one or two classmates jamming them with extra work. I must emphasize, implementing a Consequence Program will be difficult for the initial 2-3 week trial period but it will get easier after that. Then, if someone acts up, let them know they are heading for a consequence. The key is to NEVER deviate from it once it starts, else you will reset that progress back to square one. Just remember, there are good consequences too and good behavior should be rewarded. You'll need to define good rewards too.

Now, to properly implement consequences, the student has to accept they were were at fault. You do not levy punishment, you let them or their classmates select their punishment. You hand out good rewards/consequences, the student or class gives out punishment/consequences. You set the rules and let the class know them.

1) A student must select their own consequence for their action (it should be appropriate).
2) If the student fails to pick something, then:
2a) the other student wronged picks the punishment;
2b) if no other student is involved, the class is the judge of punishment for the student. More than likely, the offending student will want to pick their punishment, instead of leaving others pick it. Other people will be more harsh or pick things they know will really hurt the student. The punishment has to warrant the infraction, it cannot be too weak or too severe.
2c) if the class refuses to appropriately sanction the kid, then the whole class gets what you decide as that was the classes decision.

If you are the one who punishes the child, they will never take ownership for their actions and blame you. You are placing ownership on either the student, another student that the first student wronged, or the class as a whole. You are the one who gives out good rewards. See where this is going? Everyone I've told this to, who had unruly kids, said their lives were changed within a month. They went from screaming to quietly mentioning the word consequence and that stopped whatever fight or issue was brewing.

Just make sure you are not in a situation where you are alone with a couple of girls or guys. I don't know if you could carry a digital recorder just to keep for your own insurance against false charges. A lot of times, the asshole kids have asshole parents who see their spawn through rose-colored glasses. I think in my town the teachers are starting to bring charges against the kids, so it's a two-way street, and a bad record like that could really hump up their college path. That's when the parents step in and realize the shit just got real and they'll drop the hammer on their kids. Like you've seen with CNN, firing just a few sets the tone. If that's the route you find yourself going down, by choice or not, pick a couple of the ring leaders, develop a detailed paper trail and then go to the CSA.


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Response to Upthevibe (Original post)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 10:49 PM

2. As for myself, I would have turned around

and walked away.

I suggest to copy your post and split it into much shorter paragraphs. Elaborate as you can.

Email it to yourself.

Letís see if experienced teachers or legal eagles abound today in DU.

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Response to Tetrachloride (Reply #2)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 11:13 PM

4. Tetrachloride...........

Thank you. (for your suggestion about editing - I agree and will do so).

Also, Thank you for letting me know what you would have done....

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Response to Upthevibe (Original post)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 10:53 PM

3. After a 1/2 dozen glasses of CabSav.....

you don't need my advice. Good luck!

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Response to OAITW r.2.0 (Reply #3)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 11:15 PM

5. OAITW r.2.0.......


I'm a recovering alcoholic so I don't get to drink!

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Response to Upthevibe (Reply #5)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 11:23 PM

8. No problem. I don't drink any more.....

but I don't drink any less.

Dave Bromberg explained it to me.

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Response to Upthevibe (Original post)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 11:21 PM

7. You made the right call.

Unfortunately your health has taken a hit . I hope that it is only temporary.

Since you decided that you wanted to Temp until taking SS, it's wise to stay on the good side of the agency. I am confused why the school district using an external agency, but that may be the trend now.

Second idea. Look for another PT job with regular hours so that you know what the responsibilities are.

Finally, I do understand about the 'career colleges' . Heard from colleagues and students that many are a bit 'dicey'.

Best to you.

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Response to Bread and Circuses (Reply #7)

Sat Sep 17, 2022, 12:20 AM

12. Bread and Circuses.......

Thank you so much for your feedback

I'm also feeling like I made the right decision today.

The agency is very important to me! I've had steady assignments since 2018 (except during the Summer when the kids are out of class). I absolutely know what to expect when I go to elementary and high schools.

The only time I need to find "gig jobs" are when school's out. Fortunately, I only have one more Summer to worry about before I'll be getting my steady Social Security income.

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Response to Upthevibe (Original post)

Fri Sep 16, 2022, 11:38 PM

10. I am really glad you posted this tonite

I recently started the process of becoming a substitute teacher to augment my retirement income. I used to be an instructional designer/curriculum writer in corporations. I have no kid experience, no kids of my own.

I got up to the point of sending in the contract and got cold feet. Mostly because of fear of Covid, and not wanting to wear a mask all day.

But having no real idea what happens in a classroom was also scary. Your post tells me more than anything else I've read lately about the real life of substitutes. I am clearly not qualified for this job.

About your predicament. I wouldn't walk off after a goof like that. You'd be burning bridges. It was a goof on their part. Now you know to watch for it, or proactively clarify to them for the future.

Thanks again for posting. Good luck with your health and classes.

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Response to jmbar2 (Reply #10)

Sat Sep 17, 2022, 12:07 AM

11. jmbar2.......

The experience I had today is the exception but that's by design (on my part).

I LOVE subbing for the little ones and the older ones. Having said that, I have had a lot of experience with kids. When I was young I babysat all the time. Also, I'm really good with the youngsters and the older kids (9th-12th). It was a process though - trial and error. I've been doing this since 2018, and I've weeded out a lot of schools that I simply won't go to (including elementary and high schools).

I don't know what state you live in but in California, one needs a Bachelor's Degree, have a passing CBEST (California Basic Education Skills Test -Math, English, and Writing) score, and taken emergency credential courses (but they aren't a big deal at all).

That's for your input. I think I made the right decision to stay and am already feeling better...

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Response to Upthevibe (Reply #11)

Sat Sep 17, 2022, 12:20 AM

13. I'm in Oregon

I have advanced degrees, and some experience teaching workshops to high schools, but pretty small. Recently I had a chance to provide toddler daycare for folks attending a conference. All day for two days,for two conferences.

I loved being with the little ones! We just played and played all day, sang songs, played puppets. It was hugely enjoyable.

However, came down with Covid from it. I'd consider it again, but really nervous about getting long covid from repeated exposures. Bad time to be trying to do the retirement job and avoid getting infected.

Thanks again and good luck!

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Response to jmbar2 (Reply #13)

Sat Sep 17, 2022, 12:28 AM

14. jmbar2.....

I LOVE Oregon!

I've been vaccinated and boosted but ended up getting COVID back in March. The only symptons I had were a slight headache and sore throat (for about 30 minutes) but I tested positive for about 10 days (which my understanding is typical).

The agency (thank God) had added a COVID benefit for 50 hours of pay! I was SO relieved and this speaks again to them being a good company.

I certainly understand your concern regarding getting Long Covid.

Good luck to you as well....

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Response to Upthevibe (Reply #14)

Sat Sep 17, 2022, 02:12 AM

15. Thanks - you too.

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Response to Upthevibe (Original post)

Sat Sep 17, 2022, 01:32 PM

17. Thank you for teaching nt

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