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Hello! I am subbing for a music teacher who is on medical leave. I have grades 2-5. I see each class 2 times in our rotation. A few of my fifth graders are being disrepectful and argumentative. I have tried many things: marks by his/her name and losing some recess time, sitting in the time out chair that the regular teacher has and talking with the homeroom teachers, who have been wonderful in backing me up. But I have a few who just do not care...they have had calls home to parents in other classes and the principal says send them to him. I would like to handle this myself. Nothing phases these kids. It is not a big number of kids, 2 students in one class and 2 students in another. I have 4 fifth grades in all, so the majority of the students are alright. Anyone have any ideas? They are disruptive to class time and I don't want to stop class to have a talk with the culprits because that is unproductive time and not fair to the other students. We only get 40 minutes a period.
Any advice would be great! Thank you all!


me too

I am also a music teacher who is subbing. I know your pain, I would almost rather teach science that 5th gr music. The problem is the environment. 1-4th grade pretty much stay in their own classroom. 5th grade is where the students really begin working their way into a full rotation schedule. They are energetic and uneasy out of their comfortable classroom.
You need to get to them before they enter the room. Greet them at the door but don't let them in before they are ready. I try to have some quiet music playing, if they know the piece they may be silent and listen while the settle in. Try to start the day with a simple activity; maybe a 4 beat rhythm call and response or something that requires very little thought.
These are just ideas. I still have trouble with 5th grade music and I would also like to hear some ideas.



Thanks for your input, MD. All the "specialists" meet the students and bring them down to their rooms for music, art, gym, etc. We have a warm-up song for them to start with. Today I spoke with the homeroom teacher. She came down to class when it was her room's time and basically told them that the misbehavior stops or the students will write down their behavior, the students will call home and explain their behavior and then the principal will get a copy. Apparently, these several students are acting up for everyone, not just me. I'm glad she came down but I feel stupid as if I couldn't handle it on my own but nothing was working. I will try the quiet music before class. I could possibly be subbing for this teacher until December.
I feel stupid. I have three children of my own, I taught kindergarten and music in a private school before going to public. It is an adjustment.
I hope your subbing goes well and thanks again for the advice!


Senior Member
Listen to the principal

He said "send them to him". This is one of the most common mistakes I see subs make, IMHO. If their regular teachers can't make them behave, why do you think you will be successful? At that age you can very possibly have students who are gang members, using drugs or have a home life that would appall you if you knew more details.

"Apparently, these several students are acting up for everyone, not just me"
And so why is it that you think you can handle these "students"? It is not your job, again IMHO.


use the help you can get

It sounds like you are being quite hard on yourself. You are doing all the right things... We teach kids that they need to turn to their friends for help when they are in trouble, and as teachers, our friends are other teachers and administrators who can help us. There is no shame in getting assistance. Stay strong, keep using your discipline plan with the kids, and if the homeroom teacher recommends this punishment, then perhaps it would be a good idea to use it.

I also wonder, and maybe this is totally unrealistic, but if you had time, could you visit the kids who were disruptive (like for five minutes at lunch) and talk with each one on one about what is going on. A heart-to-heart might help you understand better why they are misbehaving. Are they after attention (then call it like it is and tell them "Could it be that you really want more attention in the class?" If they smile, or look down, that's probably it. Talk to them about how they can get positive attention), do they feel that they aren't "musical" and so have given up?
Try to tell them how you feel when they act up.

Just a suggestion. I admire you for caring so much!