Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Good Sub is Gold

I love it when I get a good sub.

I had a fantastic sub on Thursday. Absolutely fantastic. That woman's phone number is going in my file and I'm going to have her again (although for this next week my absence is already assigned to someone else...darn it.)

I subbed and permanent subbed for 3 years while I was going back to school to get my teaching license and then for the year and a half after I graduated and couldn't find a permanent position (they were, in fact, eliminating positions Up North which is why I ended up back in My Beloved South). It can be a completely thankless job. It can be a grind. It can drive you nuts.

There were days when I'd walk into a room and not only didn't have lesson plans, but didn't even have a roster for the classes I was supposed to teach. There were days when I ended up in the emotionally disturbed unit and wondered if I'd leave there emotionally disturbed myself. Days when I bored myself silly watching kids take an AP Calculus test. And the day when one kid stuck his finger down his throat to throw up on his desk - on purpose - because he thought it was funny to freak out his classmates and the sub. (He was horribly disappointed that I didn't freak out at him and told me "it worked with the other ones.")

So before I have a planned absence and have a sub in the room, I give my kids The Lecture. I basically tell them that I've subbed before, it's a difficult, thankless job that doesn't pay well at all, and that I Will Take It Personally if they give the sub any trouble and they will Feel My Wrath. I inform them that a sub is a guest in our room and they should treat him or her as a guest.

And then I pray.

I tend to leave incredibly detailed notes for my subs (which they seem to like) and I really like, in fact, need to have some notes left to let me know who was bad, who was good, and if everything went okay. The last few subs I've had didn't leave any notes, or left a brief "all went well" comment which I seriously doubt, since I know these kids.

My sub on Thursday left me FANTASTIC notes. Her notes were so good I could actually visualize what went on in my room when I was gone. And nothing she wrote surprised me. In other words, The Usual Suspects, performed in their usual manner. Spoiled Princess Girl apparently wouldn't shut up, Brat Boy wouldn't shut up and had to be moved, the Red-Headed Blob did nothing, so forth and so on. So I wrote out eight behavior notes and pulled The Usual Suspects aside and gave them my I'm So Very Disappointed In You And I Can't Believe You'd Insult Me and Your School By Behaving Like This talk.

Mrs. Math asked me later if I got a "I'm sorry," out of any of them, and was surprised that I actually did (for most of them). In fact, I had nearly half of them with tears welling up during our talk.

"How do you do that?" she asks. "They never act sorry when I get after them."

And I tell her what it was like to grow up in Southern California and to go to a school with a bunch of different types of kids, including a number of Jewish kids who had Typical Jewish Mothers who were masters, absolute masters, of using guilt to manage their kids. I learned from these moms how to lay on guilt thick as peanut butter. I don't use it often, but man, when I works!

Now, we'll just have to see if it sticks and they can be good next week when I'm out.


Princess Lionhead said...

I know what you mean about good subs being gold. I often end up with the sub that leaves no note at all and lets the kids run wild. That's real fun. If I don't have names, I don't know who to punish! And the kids know that, unfortunately.

Kat said...

My mother once subbed for my class when I was in third grade. It was terrible, because she had no issue about yelling at all my friends. But, no one messed with her.