Chapter 1: The Inside Scoop of the School

Have you ever had students who refuse to do their work? How about boys who fight in the middle of class?

I’m sure you can think of a few in each group of classes you have had over the years. Well try and imagine the majority of 21 students saying “I don’t want to” or “You can’t make me” as well as about half of the class who argue or physically fight one another on a daily basis…

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This has been my life for the past MONTH while long-term subbing in a fourth grade class. Luckily, the office and counselors are on call, and know that this class is tough. But it has pushed me to my limits many times, and there isn’t much I can do. I was the main teacher in there for about 2 and a half weeks (while the actual teacher had surgery and recovered). And the principal seemed happy that I stopped kids from attacking each other, and they did some work in the mornings. It is an interesting idea that I am being complimented on keeping the class under control, rather than how well they are actually learning.

From being around the other teachers at the school, I have noticed that many upper elementary classes have some kids who refuse, and those teachers struggle to come up with management strategies to get those kids to complete work. The principal is overwhelmed and has asked them not to call the office for kids who simply won’t do the class work, so they feel unsupported as a staff at times. However, having a few tough students versus only a few hardworking students makes my side much more difficult. Even the other fourth grade teachers wonder how all the physical kids ended up in one class and were not separated out.

The regular teacher (Miss M) is back now, but only in the mornings so not to push herself too strongly – I am dealing with these kiddos in the afternoons and they are just a handful. We are trying to come up with rewards (that Miss M would give) based on their behavior in the afternoons with me, but the same students are ending up on the “naughty list” every day. Some of the kids have tried to alter the behavior because they know I am writing down what is going on during each subject; however, it isn’t make a huge impact on the learning that goes on in the afternoons.

Through the “Stories of a Fourth Grade Substitute,” you will be hearing the terrors I have endured over the past month and currently in this school. I will be doing a week by week breakdown of this long-term job. Look out for posts every few days (since I have a lot to cover) with the behavioral highlights!


24 thoughts on “Chapter 1: The Inside Scoop of the School

  1. Hannah! Whew! You are in it. Hard because it was not you who set up the management system . I am not a fan of rewards or if punishing the whole class. I have found some success in rewarding those who follow rules and expectations with lining up first or arranging for some free time for their good choices. The tough ones are tough for a reason. A great educator named Michael Linsin just wrote a post- his blog is “smart classroom management.”!believe in it! And hang on ….believe it or not, you are getting a great education!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughts! I’ve been trying so many different things with these kids – and the other teachers at the school just say that this class listens to no one but Miss M (so it isn’t just me). Look out for lots of other tales from this class.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry to hear of the disrespect these students are demonstrating. Makes me wonder what their home life is like. Sounds like you could spend your entire afternoon dishing out consequences but if the morning teacher and principal don’t support you then affecting change is nearly impossible. Good luck to you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, most of the ones who struggle are in single-parent, foster homes, or very low-income households. And the actual teacher is trying her best but she has said they are her toughest group as well


      1. Yes I have been venting it out to the other fourth grader teachers at this school during recess, and knowing that they deal with similar kids definitely helps me!


      2. I am starting to realize how tough teaching can be, but knowing that there are some kids who you are helping is definitely worth it. Thanks for the pep talk!


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