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Dear Tom - behavior management advice for the daily substitute teacher needed

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Laura_War, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. I am a substitute teacher - primary trained but due to the lack of work - take some days subbing in a secondary school. This is usually once a week or just less. The school I sub in however has behaviour problems. I would like to know if you have any advice on how to deal with the classes that I have. I am usually left with the classes that have no work left for them and of course they are not going to say what they have been working on. I usually don't know until the morning I come in what subject I will be covering. I did have some tasks that they could do on paper but this 99% of the time ends up with paper airplanes flying all over the room - I need some advice on how to set my authority in the classroom for one day/one lesson at the beginning so at the very least, they are not running around the room hitting each other with pencils and the sort - I need the work as draining as it is and just need a few tips to make it that bit easier.
     
  2. I am a substitute teacher - primary trained but due to the lack of work - take some days subbing in a secondary school. This is usually once a week or just less. The school I sub in however has behaviour problems. I would like to know if you have any advice on how to deal with the classes that I have. I am usually left with the classes that have no work left for them and of course they are not going to say what they have been working on. I usually don't know until the morning I come in what subject I will be covering. I did have some tasks that they could do on paper but this 99% of the time ends up with paper airplanes flying all over the room - I need some advice on how to set my authority in the classroom for one day/one lesson at the beginning so at the very least, they are not running around the room hitting each other with pencils and the sort - I need the work as draining as it is and just need a few tips to make it that bit easier.
     
  3. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Why should they behave if they have no work left for them? I think first of all you need to find someone to set work for them, or try as best as you can to find something meaningful for them to do - even if it's reading a book or catching up with homework from another subject.You could bring in colouring pens and they could draw a mind map of the topic that they have been covering - or make a poster about it. Or give them a blank wordsearch that they could fill with specialist terminology from the subject that they're studying - with clues underneath for their partner to solve. After they've finished making the wordsearch/puzzle/crossword they could swap with a partner, and the partner could solve theirs.
    They could design a boardgame which teaches information about the subject - when you land on certain squares you have to answer questions which they have to make up. Once finished they can then play the board game (you need dice - they only cost a few quid, and they can use coins or pen lids as counters).
    They could get into groups to design a quiz for the rest of the class to do.
    Or have a look at the TES resources.
    Secondly, you could have some sort of reward for good behaviour, such as playing a game for the last 5 minutes, or listening to a song, or leaving the room just as the pips go.
     
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Love your name, whether avatar or real- appropriate for your query :)
    You're quite right to want to resolve this. First of all, may I say SHAME on the school that doesn't set cover? If it's regular and routine then it's a structural problem, not a few muck-ups. Can you ask not to be sent to this school, and instead go somewhere they give a damn about kids?
    If not, and you're stuck with the situation then I have a few suggestions:
    1. Get in early as you can.
    2. Learn the names of authority figures that you can refer names to afterwards. Meet them in person and get their assurance that you can pass on any issues.
    3. Make your own seating plan. If this isn't possible, then put them in chairs to your design- it could simply be boy/ girl, randomised. That way you put your stamp on the room. If it takes ten minutes then it takes ten minutes. I usually do this for cover lessons.
    4. Bring work that you've prepared if you suspect none exists in school. That way you've got something to deliver from the instant you walk in. Try TES resources, or just plan some yourself.
    5. Be there first, with the room ready if you can. Get a building map. Walk around in your spare time.
    6. Insist on some basic rules to begin with- jackets off, bags on floor, shirts tucked in etc. It shows you care about structure.
    7. Start with a brief speech about expectations. Again, it shows you care.
    8. THEN, do your best! It's a hard job, and kids will make it hard for you. It's a shame when schools make it even harder...
    Good luck
    <i style="color:#1f1f1f;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;line-height:16px;background-color:#e5f4fb;">Read more from Tom here on his personal blog, and follow him here on Twitter.[/i]
     
  5. I would agree with Tom. There are two issues here, the workand the behaviour. Although both of course have an impact on the other stratagies can be targeted at each.
    • Firstly speak to the Faculty Head, explain the situation and ask, if possible, for them to be there at the start of the next lesson.
    • Tom is right, rearrange the seating plan. Boy/Girl, in my opinion, generally works best for difficult classes (although not always).
    • From there you need to set your class rules. Of course make links to the school rules, but you need to convay YOUR expectations of acceptable behaviour. You must ensure complete transparency with this. Pupils should be included in these rules.
    • "How do you want me to speak and act towards you?" to encourse answers of respect etc. From there you can state that this is also how you want to be spoken to.
    • You are not equals, although you may agree upon rules you need to be assertive with how they are used. Fairness should be on top of any list.
    • Positive classroon management has its uses, use praise for the ones who are in fact complying with your lesson.
    • Familiarise yourself with the sanctions the school uses. Be firm and fair in how they are used. With me strike one is a warning, strike two they are moved seat, strike three they're on a time-out. Everyone regardless of 'status' in the class is subjected to this same process. Discipline must be transparent, fair, and even.
    • The work can be a more difficult question to address without know the subject area etc. You need to raise this with the Faculty Head. They are ultimately responsible for directing work. If there are unable or unwilling to then you must set the tone of learning. This will meaning making or using others resources, however, it also means that you are not bound by that subjects curriuculum. You can work on groups tasks, relationship building, etc.
    • Last point, don't shout. You'll want to, but don't. When you do, you've lost the battle and it will have a negative effect on your person.
    Would like to know how you get on. Tom is right, the school should be ashamed. Good luck!
     
  6. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    How about because it's the civilised thing to do?
    Why do they feel entitled to be disrespectful and cause mayhem in the presence of any adult, let alone one who is a visitor to their school?
    These are not pupils who have missed out on expectations baout good behaviour; in fact, they've probably been taken through the school's expectations more times than we ever were in the 1960s and they have the school rules on the wall and probably in their exercise books too. They usually become docile as soon as someone who knows their name walks into the room, proving that their behaviour is wilful and would not have happened if a regular teacher had found themselves in charge with no idea of the work to be done.
    The only rules I can recall from my Secondary education were to walk on the left on corridors, form an orderly queue for school buses, greet any teachers we passed on corridors, put hands up when we wanted to speak and not remove the bobble on our berets.
    Workable classroom conduct was a given. We didn't generally have to be told what was acceptable and what was off-limits.
    perhaps pupils today are reacting against the constant 'repetition of the obvious'?
     
  7. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    I didn't mean to sound silly, but they do need something to do if they're going to be confined to a classroom for an hour or so!
     
  8. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Indeed, but there's no need for mayhem whilst the cover teacher finds out what set work might be located elsewhere or takes a few minutes to look at the pupils' past work in order to come up with suitable work for them.
    I can rustle up valid work at very short notice in many subjects but I take longer to get the ball rolling if the class see it as an opportunity to mess around.
     
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Thank you for posting this. I think sometimes we go over and over in our minds about why pupils are misbehaving: no work set, work set that is boring, work is too easy, too hard, drawing posters, writing essays, doing sums, or some other perceived defect.
    You are absolutely correct in that the students need to behave '...because it is the civilised thing to do.'
    Of course students will misbehave if lessons are boring etc , but we are talking about lessons where a teacher probably has not had too much time to prepare exciting lessons or field trip expeditions.
    Thanks again for your sensible advice.
     

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