Friday, September 3, 2010

Advice from a Pro

A lady from my church sent me a message yesterday regarding successful substitute teaching. Her daughter, Emma, was in the class I taught. Just thought I would share it.

Hey Emily,

Heard you had Emma's class...she said they were crazy. Here are a few things I have learned. Use them if you wish, disregard them if you wish.

1. Remember YOU are the sheriff, the top dog, the big cheese, the commander of the ship. If they smell fear, not good. Use your confidence to your benefit. YOU ARE NOT....NOT...NOT THEIR FRIEND.

2. Be stern until you get the lay of the land...they have to earn "Nice Miss Wieser". Usually that doesn't happen your first time in the classroom. If you show them nice too early, they'll take advantage. If things go smoothly, they will look forward to your next visit and then you can be more yourself.

3. These are my three classroom rules, which I recite first thing in the morning for grade school classes. First, they don't talk when I'm all. Second, I don't speak to students who are out of their exceptions. If they get out of their seats and try to approach me, I look at them and say, "I don't speak to students who are out of their seats." When I tell them this rule, I ask a student to raise his hand and I walk immediately to his desk and address his concerns. They like the teacher coming to them and knowing nobody else can interrupt their time. Finally, do what you're asked to do when you're asked to do it.

Surprisingly, those three rules pretty much calm the class. The kids like the structure. Sometimes I have to prompt them by correcting an infraction, "Wait, the rule is you don't talk when...________?"

4. Before you ask for a student to respond to your question say, "Raise your hand if you can tell me....." Raising your own hand when you say it reinforces the desired behavior.

I don't use bribery ("If you guys are really good, I'll take you outside for extra recess.") I use rewards..."You have behaved so well, I'm going to leave a special note for your teacher and I'm going to read you an extra story."

For little bitties K and 1st, I've sometimes taken in a wrapped up book. I set it somewhere that they can see it. When their curiosity leads them to ask about it, I mention in an offhand way that it is just a little something extra for the afternoon...if we get all of our work done.

If you end up at the high school, make sure you let them know that even if they know you as Abbie or Isaac's sister, in the classroom, you are Miss Wieser.

Hope you find this helpful. Most of this I learned in classroom management class or during my student teaching, but some of it is from being in the trenches. If you're fair and not wishy-washy, they'll give you a fair shake. Don't be afraid to remove a troublemaker if you've warned them.


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like great advice. I agree, students smell fear. And if they think you're in charge and know what you're doing, they'll usually behave accordingly. I wish you luck!