Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Substituting these past few months has been an incredible learning experience. It's helped me formulate my own ideas about how I want my classroom to be. I learned one lesson last week that I'll never forget.

On Thursday, I was in a 9th grade Earth Science class. The kids were arguably the most rowdy I'd ever seen. They threw crumpled up paper balls and pencils at each other. They talked loudly and called each other names. But it wasn't just that, they were vulgar and disrespectful as well. It was all I could do to quell the worst behavior and maintain some semblance of order. After it was all over, I came home with a bad headache that wouldn't go away. I was thinking, if this is what being a teacher is going to be like, then I should find something else to do quick.

The next day, Friday, I was in a 9th grade English class. Something I had never seen happened before. The first period class came in silently, sat down and began their routine work. All throughout the class there wasn't a peep. If one of them had to ask me a question, they came up to me and whispered. When the bell rang, they all filed out without saying a word. I was almost in shock. From the rest of the classes that came and went during the day I learned that this teacher had a reputation for being the meanest and grumpiest teacher in school. He didn't put up with anything and he followed through with consequences. I figured that he wasn't really mean in real life but had to keep order in his class. Otherwise, he'd have the same incredible headache every day that I had on Thursday.

I learned that I want to have order in my class and in order to do so, I'll have to be very clear about what behavior I expect from students and follow through with consequences. Otherwise, I'll hate my job and I won't last long. I'm glad I'm learning these types of things now. Each day is a new adventure where I get to learn and plan how I want my own classroom to be. I know I'm gonna have a lot of surprises when I do become a full-fledged teacher but hopefully I'll be able to cope with them better because of my substituting experience.

I liked it better my way in my world of fantasy,



Faith said...

You've learned an important lesson...I have heard a quote that says, "new teachers don't smile until December" (so that they can have good classroom managment. I guess after that they can loosen up a little.

Carterista said...

I am very strict for the first 2 weeks of each semester. After that when something goes wrong I say, with a big smile on my face, "Oh-oh. Some of our 6th grade friends were talking during stretches so were are going to do it again and this time it will be AWESOME because everyone will be silent." After repeating the stretch routine a few times, I don't have to remind them every day that I expect them to be quiet.

Smiling helps alot, cuz then they don't know they are getting your goat. The think you are enjoying all the practice they have to do. Hahaha!

High School is a bit different, but they can really rise to expectations when you put it in words they understand and give them ownership. I think you'll do great, Dan! And there are so many reasearch-based resources for classroom management that works!