Monday, February 16, 2009

Wow. What a day. As I was driving home I thought about this blog and thought I should post, but when I started to run down the events of the day, my mind apparently turned into mush. When I have crazy days that involve a considerable amount of voice-raising and constant direction-repeating, I tend to lose all track of what happened during the day. Stress is a fantastic memory eraser.

I subbed at a middle school that I've been to the most of all my schools now. I had a crazy 8th grade experience at this school that convinced me never to take 8th grade again, so mostly I've been with 6th grade classes. An acquaintance of mine teaches 6th grade science at this school (we'll call it SMS), and she called me last night to see if I could sub for her while she tended to her sick 3-month-old. Of course I was happy to oblige.

The day started off alright. I expected the homeroom class to be a little jumpy since they had a sub on a Monday, but nothing major happened. SMS has a special class after homeroom where they either read or work on math before they start their day. This class was great and I got to use my favorite hangman word: triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number thirteen). I'm glad I had a good start to the day because the middle of the day was rough.

The 2nd and 5th periods (they have band, P.E., art, etc during 3rd/4th periods) were hog wild. I had a lot of instances of students talking back, having direction repeated over and over, and lots and lots of talking out of turn. I ended up with seven or eight names on the board for silent lunch at one point, however I allowed most of them the chance to earn back their freedom.

One girl, who was sitting directly in front of me, made a snide comment to a passing student after their test had been issued. I asked her to pick up her things and move to the neighboring classroom, to which she replied, "But I didn't say anything!"

I've learned with middle-schoolers that nothing I can say or do short of video taping them in action can convince them that I caught them red-handed, in the act of misbehaving. Is it not enough that I was looking directly at you, saw your lips move, and heard your voice? Apparently not.

This student continued to cause a scene and eventually got up and moved. Later she returned to the room and I spoke to her in the hall and asked her to apologize for being disrespectful in front of the class, which she did, but as to its sincerity, I'm not entirely convinced.

The 5th period class was better overall, but SMS expects its students to walk through the halls in silence and I had to give silent lunch to two girls who were obviously whispering to each other in line. During lunch, they proceeded to sit next to each other at the silent table and talk the entire time. I caught them towards the end, confronted them, and was met with a wave of backtalk and rolled eye. To this I asked them to write me a note apologizing and giving the definition of silent lunch. One girl turned in a note later, and when I read it I felt genuinely bad for giving her silent lunch, but did not get the chance to speak to her afterward.

The last two periods were fine, thank the Lord. I am the kind of person who is definitely strict, but I do not like yelling or raising my voice. I used the "If you can hear my voice, clap once" attention-grabbing technique on the last two classes, and I wish I'd thought to use it on the earlier two. I really, really do not like having to get so upset because it's a sign that I have lost control over the situation.

Days like today are what I call "Jekyll and Hyde" days. You get a few classes that are absolute saints and a few that are, well, I'll let you finish that yourself. The good classes see the fun you and the difficult classes see the Hard Ass Substitute. And they see you for a day so that's all they get. I want to say, "You don't understand! I'm freaking hilarious when you're good- I play games, I tell jokes, I give you homework help!" But I'm too busy keeping them in line like I'm at an elementary school. It sucks (a word I don't let them say and often have to check myself for saying).

I'm subbing at SMS again tomorrow for a different 6th grade team. Overnight I must erase the events of today from my mind, get up on the sunny side, and say hello to all the kids who pissed me off today with a wide grin.

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