Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Survival of a 6th Grade Onslaught

This is my report of how thoroughly I was destroyed on Friday when I subbed for a 6th grade class.

For the sake of not giving any person or place a bad name, I will not give out the name of the place that I subbed at and the person that I subbed for. Yesterday, I did a substitute teaching job for a charter school in Oakland. I arrived at the secretary's office around 9:25 am, picked up the substitute materials, and headed to my class. Arrived to my classroom about 5 minutes before the 3rd period ended. There was another teacher leading the class in a read aloud. I could hear a few students giggling as I walked over to place down my Xootr and my backpack next to the teacher's desk. One of the students spoke out to ask me whether it was a unicycle. I didn't reply to that since they were supposed to be following along in the read aloud.

After the teacher left, I was just following along with the reading. The bell rang and students immediately swarmed around me to get me to initial a box in a school planner for character traits that they are supposed to demonstrate. My first thought was how I shouldn't be signing things that I know nothing about, but I acted contrary to that thought. At first I assumed that they get these boxes initialed for participating in class. So many of the students kept telling me how they were reading when asked to. I was simply overwhelmed, so I initialed. While I was distracted with initialing some of those planners, about one quarter of the class darted for the teacher's desk. They were raiding a bag of fun size M&Ms. I yelled at them to get back. After the remainder of the class left, I was taken aback by that unified act of savagery.

I was scheduled to sub for 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 8th period. I won't go through each period though. I'll just state the recurring theme that each period exhibited. Each period had a few good students. But then, the remaining students were constantly talking, getting out of their seat, and not working on the assigned worksheets. I felt such a lack of control of the situation. My failure to get the class' attention and concentration was disheartening. I will never be so disheartened as to give up, but I wish I knew how to get their attention and to work on the assigned tasks. One of my wishes as a teacher is to be able to bring organization to a classroom that is in complete chaos. Sounds like a lot to ask for, but if I can do that, then I can teach anyone.


  1. boni maybe a T and an ASeptember 25, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    Hi Autif,

    Try: "If you can hear me clap once." (you clap and hopefully some others will clap). "If you can hear me clap twice!" "If you can hear me clap three times."

    One of my bio teachers could whistle extremely loud with her fingers. Really shut the class up.

    I googled some of these techniques and found a great site below.

    Putting their names on the board is another thing as well.

    Buy cheap cute erasers or stickers and make time for trivia for the little kiddies. Make things fun! I had one sub who would make time for Goosebumps choose your fate books. Super fun. Tell them, "Hey, let's try to get through this so I have time to show a magic trick, or tell you a story, or (insert something intriguing)."

    I'm taking the CBEST on Oct 1 to apply to be a sub as well. My technique would be to carry a yard stick around and give kids the 'you better not mess with me' face...jk!

  2. Good luck. You'll pass the CBEST. It's a piece of cake. I'll check out the website you gave me. Thanks. :-)

    Hey, btw, after you finish the CBEST try applying for a job at this website:

    They cover the Bay Area, but they also cover OC. That's another outlet to get some sub teaching jobs if you want them.