Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.

A Cranky Teacher: Seeing Myself Through My Students’ Eyes

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Substitute teaching is harder than it looks.

“Miss Campbell, are you married?” The junior higher asked. “No,” I said as they continued. “Are you engaged?” “No,” I responded.

Then a junior high boy made a comment that I didn’t fully hear: “Maybe that’s why…” I looked sternly in his direction and didn’t hear the rest. I had had enough battles for that day of substitute teaching.

My imagination added the rest: “Maybe that’s why she’s cranky and unreasonable sometimes.”

Or “Maybe that’s why she’s quiet and doesn’t laugh much.”

Taking the time to consider myself from my students’ perspective is helpful, sobering, and a little funny (I shouldn’t take myself so seriously!)

Cranky teacher

Did I really need to let one student get under my skin so that she started shouting when I asked her to leave the room?
How could have I made it more fun to transition instead of just repeating the same instructions several times?

The life of a substitute teacher flows with newness and lots of challenging students. Students go on their worst behavior when a substitute comes; why is that?
It’s human nature, so I guess they just have to test the limits.
I’ve done okay, but I’m not an amazing sub. However, I’ve learned a lot from subbing:

I’m a grouch sometimes. Period. And a little chocolate helps.

Students can’t read my mind, so I need to give them clear directions and then if they choose not to follow then they get a consequence.

I forget to smile and am nit-picky.

My processing speed in new situations is slow at times when I’m stressed out, and I need space to figure out what to do next.

I need to know my high expectations for my students, have fun getting there, and not let them get away with being sloppy.

My teaching voice needs work (maybe voice lessons?).

Assume I’m right and don’t argue with students!

Be confident; I am the teacher, even if I’m grouchy sometimes, and students must have an okay attitude or if there’s a bad attitude, work through it with me.

Apologies help with everyone.
Be confident enough to admit I was wrong and humbly apologize when needed.

Be observant. Students are sneaky!

Students want the sub to be strong and not let other students push him or her around.

Don’t nit-pick; save the correction for important times, but you can be establishing your standards in a fun way. I’ve been unsure of correction, so I’m nice until I need to confront someone, then I come down hard to show who is boss, then students take offense because I didn’t have a connection with them and emotional capital to use. Students are not machines!

I saw a friend over-do correction recently and then it clicked in my head why I had been offending some students. There is a relational balance, and I had been over-doing it. They had just been talking when they should have been studying, but I came on full-force; adjust to the situation.
I’m learning to build rapport and trust with my students.

Teaching is worth the hassle! Do it.

Be yourself and teach well.

To all the substitute teachers out there: My hat is off to you. Continue teaching and serving those students! You have a hard, but rewarding job.

photo 1

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Author: mary.campbell.schuh

Hello Friends, A curious, kind, practical, and energetic writer, wife, mother, and teacher is one way to describe me. I enjoy thinking about transitions--in schools, churches, families, relationships, and even countries. I'm passionate about learning, and I love working with people. Stop by often to see which kind of transition I'm thinking about, and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts. Peace! ~Mary Hope

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