Our District believes in collaboration. It believes in collaboration so much, in fact, that it sets aside money to pay for substitute teachers so that teachers can have an entire day to plan together. What this means is that each subject area - math, science, reading language arts, and social studies - gets a day to plan while someone else watches their kids.
It also means that the kids lose their ever loving minds and I get really, really busy. Because, for whatever reason, middle schoolers cannot handle being with a substitute teacher. It's the time that even the good kids act stupid and the trouble makers make even more trouble. What makes it worse is that we have a pretty serious shortage of good, quality substitute teachers who can handle middle school kids. Heck, we can't find permanent teachers to fill open positions (anyone want to teach 7th grade science? Anyone?). All the good subs are offered full-time positions, which leaves, for the most part a rather inept pool of people without the skills they need to survive these kids. We do have some exceptions, like Mr. Brown, the most amazing sub ever who is retired military And Who Takes No Crap From Anyone. The kids fear him, but they also respect him, and he's a dream. Teachers fight over who gets him. This guy is like the most popular girl in school, and is booked months out. But he's a rare exception.
What this means is that I can tell, by looking at how many subs are in the building, that my room will start filling up and filling up fast. This week was a record for us in Our Happy Little Portable. Monday we had a whopping three (yay!), Tuesday went to 13, then Wednesday, and Thursday we had 16, then Friday we had 10. I pretty much max out at 16 because I run out of seats to put kids, so 16 is the most I can take.
My ideal number is 6-8 kids. That way I can get to know them, work with them, and help them. The sort of things I like to do. Anything over that and I feel like all I do is process incoming work (four subjects times the number of kids) and outgoing work, and hopefully making sure they behave. In other words, I have to turn into a paper-processing bitch.
This week was something else.
We got banned from the 8th grade hallway bathrooms due to vandalism. It appears that one of the kids I had for two days (we're pretty sure we know who it is) was jumping up and damaging the ceiling tiles in the bathroom. So now, we have to walk to the other side of the building and use the ones by the cafeteria, which is not very fun when it's cold and rainy out as it's a much longer walk.
Two of the kids got suspended because they lied and said they were bus riders (I have no way of knowing who is and who isn't outside of asking) and then went in the building and were roaming the halls and got busted.
Another kid got an extra day for having a laser pointer.
A sixth grader scraped paint off his cubicle and will be coming in tomorrow during his PE and Computer class to sand and paint, as per his mother's request. As she said, "Make him work, and make him work hard."
A girl got removed and suspended because she didn't like the fact that she had to sit in her seat and be quiet, and began banging on her desk with her fists and screaming, "I wanna call my Momma! I wanna call my Momma!" She's gone for a few days.
And another kid, who got suspended the last time he was out with me for slapping a kid across the face as we came back from the restroom, managed to shove and push a kid THREE TIMES HIS SIZE, and got removed and suspended, when we only had an hour left in the day. Of course, again, this was on the way back from the rest rooms, and he picked on a kid who was big, but too darn nice to retaliate.
I was ready for the weekend.