Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Administrative & Student Issues Galore

Since Monday, I've been subbing at a middle school in my hometown. (If I had children this age, they would be going to the same middle school; we live within the boundaries of this particular middle school.) I've been here very little, only covering a three-day assignment previously; it's a rough school in that the students are disrespectful and loud. Of course, this could also be because it's the end of the school year and I'm the sub.

Previous English teacher number one, I'm told by the students, had to retire suddenly because of illness; for a week there was no one covering her classes as the school scrambled to find someone to replace her. Previous English teacher number two was the long-term sub; I don't know how long she was here, but long enough to be known, apparently, and long enough to be listed on some of the distributed administrative lists and on the school's homepage (but not long enough to be given a district e-mail address, although her personal e-mail address was listed). For some inexplicable reason, she is not subbing for the last two weeks of the school year, which is where I come in.

On the advice of the contact person at the Substitute Teacher Office, I called the principal to ascertain both how much prep I might be responsible for, and to get pertinent end-of-year information like if there would be a final exam, if there were any weird last-week schedules, etc. The principal told me that she had no idea what the teachers were doing, and that I should be in touch with Mrs. B., the long-term sub. The principal took my name and number, and thus began the process of my attempts of being in touch with Mrs. B.

Mrs. B. left a voicemail with her home number and the request that I call her after 4 p.m. I left two messages (and got no response) before faxing her at the school with my e-mail address. This did the trick; she left me another voicemail, and sent a few e-mails explaining at least in part what was going on, but mostly I had to pick up tidbits from the students and other teachers (there was no final exam, students had until last Friday to hand in all graded work, etc.). Mrs. B. had not left any work for the students, but did mention which themes she had been working on.

I came in with a few ideas, and can honestly say that I have never run into such problems as trying to get this particular body of students to even be quiet while I made repeated requests for their attention. I was also not given attendance sheets or access to the gradebook, so I have no idea what anyone's name is, nor do I have the ability to take attendance. I finally came to the conclusion that if I can't get any particulars or support from the administration or other teachers, I'm here just as a warm body.

First period is easily the most difficult class I've ever subbed for; the students are borderline nasty and outright disrespectful, even throwing bunches of staples and thumbtacks at me; I noticed similar issues with the other classes I subbed for in this school. Even if I were to be offered a position at this school, I would not accept it.

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