…the sixth graders go wild.
Thursday was a crazy day at Columbia. First of all, the sixth grade teachers were all gone to a teacher inservice. Why the district would require such a thing on the first week back from Christmas break boggles my mind. It’s hard enough to get students back to routine, and having a substitute in the classroom is NOT routine.
Second, we had a major rain storm on Thursday. There were huge bodies of water throughout the campus. It seemed as though the kids were finding and falling into those “ponds” left and right. Upon arrival at the school I was greeted by a boy soaked to the skin from falling into one. I worked with the home liaison to find dry clothing for him from the stash of spare clothing I have been bringing. Nothing. The supply of pants was all gone due to so many “accidents.” Guess I have a project for next week. We eventually had to call the boy’s mother to bring him spare clothing, meaning he sat out of class for about an hour.
Rain does strange things to kids. Maybe it’s atmospheric pressure or something, but they become wild creatures, even under the best of terms, but with those substitutes in the classrooms, they became even wilder. I was asked to help get a class under control. Why me? Well, the vice principal was out sick, and the other administrator was out for a doctor’s appointment. That left the principal dealing with other issues, like the second grader who brought a small blow torch to school.
When I entered the classroom, after gathering some intel from students already sent to the office, things seemed to be fairly calm. The students were working on a math problem (I’m NOT a math teacher, never have been, never will be). The substitute was at the front of the room, with his back to the class, trying to do the problem on the white board.
Okay, here are some rules I have: Never turn your back on a class, especially if you are not the regular teacher. Always walk among the desks, speaking to each and every student, checking to see if they know what they are doing. Don’t yell. Don’t let them see you sweat.
The students in the office had told me that students weren’t doing the work and had their phones out. They also said the substitute was yelling at them. I did see the yelling, but the cell phones had been tucked away by the time I walked in. I helped students, individually, with their math problems and got them on track. Kids need to feel successful with the task or they quickly go off-task and misbehave. When I felt things were going well, I talked with the substitute and asked about the students he had sent to the office. He said they could return if they were quiet and behaved.
I returned to the office and filled those students in, but one student refused to return to class. He wanted his audience with the principal, to tell her about how bad the substitute was and how the class had behaved. The others returned with promises to be quiet and to say they were sorry. I suddenly realized I was late to lunch with the first graders, my real responsibility for the day. It was still raining.