Tuesday 12–Classroom Misbehavior and the Substitute Teacher

 A good substitute teacher loves kids and has an easy-going nature. you can take a joke. Yo have the patience of a saint. But you still have to have your voice at the end of the day so here are some tips to keep the classroom orderly, don’t talk over the noise. Don’t let them walk all over you. Yo are still in the classroom to teach. I know often times it feels like you are simply “putting out fires” everywhere you turn. But the school district and teacher have invited you into the classroom for the day–it is a privilege you must honor. At the end of the day thank the kids, let them know what worked for you and perhaps what did not–you may be back.

1. Set Expectations at the beginning of class.

2. Allow students to ask 10 questions in an interview process. Only answer questions by students who raise their hands (give praise). How you handle the interview will let students know a bit about your teaching style without them thinking your laying out the law.

3. If you had time to meet with the teacher ask about classroom rules and consequences. You can also look for the class rules to be posted in the room. You can point to the rules and review them if necessary.

4. Classroom transitions are difficult especially in a K-7 classroom to regain classroom attention you can turn lights low, clap hands, ring a bell or wind-chimes, hold up the universal quiet sign a raised palm or peace symbol.

5. Write the days schedule on board with times (if you can) and erase as you go, or ask the student who cannot sit still to erase for you.

6. Offer a stretch break.

7. Circulate through the room to keep student attention on you. Touch desks as you go by. Point to the page or flip a student page if necessary. Never sit behind your teacher desk.

8. Most students respond to a count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. And will automatically self-correct and encourage the rest of the class.

9. Stay Positive! Use praise. I see “Johnny” is raising his hand. I notice “Sally” is on the right page. List the helpful students on the board so they know you reward good behaviour.

10. Reward=Recess or Reward=Snack. You can tell students they are working toward a goal. As students are helpful and responsive you put the letters to the following words up 1-by-1 on the board. Make sure it fits with the class plan for the day and is in line with school rules. Make sure the snack you offer has no peanut products due to kids with allergies.

11. If you are a long-term substitute consider arranging your classroom in a horseshoe or “U” set-up that allows for easy motion and maximum attention of students. Include a silent study area in a screened area of the room for the students who need extra quiet, change of scene, or to make-up tests.

12. Always identify those who cannot sit still, they may be trying so hard they are under their desks or twisted in knots. Find tasks for them to get them up and moving. They will become fast friends and allies to you. 

Don’t forget to check out KimNixon.com for more Inspiration!


About kimnixon

Upper Peninsula Michigan Artist and Writer

Posted on January 15, 2008, in Tuesday Twelve and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I don’t know where, when, or if you’ve ever been a sub. Your ideas for real subs sound childish and silly. Here you go kids. Ask me 10 questions! Get real. Please…

  2. Hmmm…sound like you have not had positive expereinces in the classroom. I sub in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan K-12 and have been subbing since the year 2000.

    Your right! I am gutsy to let kids ask me 10 questions. If they ask something that is not “appropriate” I remind them we are in a classroom and to choose another question.

    Maybe it is that I am “real” to the kids. Instead of authoritative, vindictive or judgemental. I see a lot of people enter a classroom set for battle. It rarely works.

    The most negative thing I had happen to me while subbing was in an electronics class that was filled with what you might term “super seniors” (those who have not graduated on time). I am 5 foot 3 inches tall, and up to me stradles a very very large and broad shouldered 200-pound 6-foot-plus man/boy demadning my attention.

    I firmly stated, “Sit down.”

    “I don’t want to. What are you going to do?!” he pronounces.

    I took a step toward him, looked way way up into his face smiled and said, “Anything I have to.”

    The class roared with laughter called the student by his nickname and told him he better sit down and quit giving Mrs. T. a hard time. (At that time I had a different last name as I was still married.)

    Any more questions? You have 9 more :-)

  3. I think your approach is right on. Staying upbeat and positive
    works with most humans. Kids need to feel liked.

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