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R-E-S-P-E-C-T…Find Out What It Means to 7thHr


New Member
The Jr. High asked if I would teach “Industrial Technology”—and even though it’s not one of my requested areas, I figured, “Why not?” After today, I know "why not."

The students weren’t allowed to operate any shop tools (a wise call), so there was an alternate computer-lab assignment. The last class of the day didn’t understand the concept of “respect.” They were rude, they wouldn’t listen when I spoke, and were noisy! The teacher next door poked her head in, and asked if I needed any assistance. I needed all the reinforcement I could get…so I said “yes” and she proceeded to lecture the class. In the midst of her lecture, a student started mouthing off to her. She proceeded to warn Mr. Mouthy that the next step would be the office.

After this teacher left, the bad behavior resumed, the noise level continued to escalate, and Mr. Mouthy continued. I called the office and sent him on his way (and it just so happened that his mother was the secretary who answered the phone.) Removing this student didn’t even phase the class. (I seriously wanted to send 90 percent of this class to the office with Mr. Mouthy…)

Since they couldn’t handle the computer lab (and were disturbing other classes), we returned to the classroom. I gave them an impromptu assignment, “Respect: #1 - What It Means, and #2 - 10 Ways I Can Show Respect.” I told them it must be finished by the end of the hour, or they’d stay after school. Several of them whined that they’d miss their sports practice… (Oh, darn!)

Reading through their essays was so pathetic! There were comments such as, “I don’t have to respect you because you are only a sub, and you don’t have a classroom” and, “You didn’t deserve my respect.” (Really? And I didn’t deserve your rude behavior today, either!) But there were also essays that apologized for the lack of respect (and pointed out specific incidents: “Our class shouldn’t have….”)

It sounds like the regular teacher is Mr. Mellow, and he lets the students do whatever they feel like doing. I’m an easy-going, nice person…but rude is rude! I, for one, certainly won’t return to Industrial Technology…I don’t need a babysitting gig that bad ;)


I feel the same way about Junior High Music classes, which I get called for often because I am a colorguard instructor for the high school.

You survived the day, and maybe Mr. Mouthy's mom changed his attitude. One would hope....



Wow, didn't those kids think that you might show those letters to their teacher? And then they MIGHT think someone deserves respect?

Unfortunately, some kids just don't have respect for adults, I am finding. There are always some in there who do, but they can get lost in the midst of the rest of them.

I'm not cut out for middle school subbing. When I get a fifth grade, I freak out! (kidding - sort of!)

I had a first grade class yesterday that raked me over the coals! I only had them for 40 minutes, as a specials teacher again. I told the worst kid (at that second anyway) that they were the worst of six first grades I had taught that lesson to. He apologized and said that he was so sorry to hear that and he didn't mean to be bad, and please could he have another chance. So then he told his friend, and told me that his friend said, "he doesn't care". So eventually that kid lost his resolve anyway and I had to move him to separate shair away from everyone and everything because he just kept touching everybody. Yeah. It was a lot of fun.


understand completely

I say I understand. Well, maybe not completely. I only sub elementary school. I subbed for art twice this year and will only take art now if I am desperate. We have an excellent art teacher who has very good classroom management skills. All of the classes were finishing up various projects, but there was little respect and the kids thought they could run over top of me. Even kindergarten. Art is one of those classes I guess you have to keep moving. The downtime trying to pass our projects and clean up at the end gave the kids the time they needed to cause trouble.

Now, I love to sub for the library teacher. She was a behavior specialist prior to this library position. She knows very well what kind of issues need to be addressed when having a sub. The last time I was there, each class was to view a video, either about milk or storms, depending on the grade. Each child was given a worksheet to fill out concerning the videos. I would stop the videos in time to go over the questions, and kind of help the kids. I would watch for kids that needed assistance. If I knew of a child prior to the assignment that usually gets help scribing, I would allow that child to pick a "partner" to scribe for him/her.

I'm sure that the kids that wrote you an acceptable essay weren't misbehaving in the first place. I have told a class to put their heads down only to find that the kids who put their heads down aren't the ones misbhaving. I feel like I am punishing the good kids and the bad kids continue to show total disrespect.


Senior Member
just do it!

Start sending them out two at a time. As many as it takes. Do so calmly, smile. If you can, make sure you have talked to the teachers around you beforehand as they might prefer, or will let, you send them to their rooms. Phone for security, or the cop if you have one in the building. It makes a better impression and the cop will talk to them and they will listen to him. He has handcuffs, you don't. Or at least you aren't supposed to have them. But, if you do have them you wouldn't be the first teacher I have seen with handcuffs.
Hey, if you are having that problem you can bet everyone has a problem with that class. You only have to do it a few times in each building. Then the next time they come into the room and see you, they will, to quote one seventh grade girl, "almost soil myself."

"Several of them whined that they’d miss their sports practice… (Oh, darn!)"
I like this as I will call up their coach right in the middle of his class (they are usually in the building) "Hey coach, I am about to send your prize pitcher (wrestler, running back, shooting guard) to the office for not keeping his (her) mouth closed. Would you like to speak with this individual first?" You bet, put him on the phone. All you will hear is: Yes, No, Alright, OK, I will, Yeh. It takes care of it everytime. And the next time all you have to do is ask if you need to call Mr. Coach. They know you will, they saw you do it or they heard about it. In all of the years I only had one young coach infer that I was to handle the problem myself and I said ok, coach. The kid went. And I told him, "Dude, your coach says you are on your own. Go down to the counselors office."
Try having the ringleader, perhaps a big kid who demands RESPECT, get up and read a newpaper article that they do want to hear. Great time killer.
Sometimes it is all about just getting to the end of the period. I'm no different than some of the rest of you when I wonder, "Will this period, will this day, never end?"


I completely understand.

Respect is a big problem for me because I am such a young sub (in my county all you need is a birth certificate that says you are 18 and a high school diploma to sub elementary school). The fifth graders especially like to take it out on me. They feel as though they can overrule me because I am only 9 years older than them...its kind of interesting when they say they have siblings that are older than me. Nonetheless, I demand their respect. I remind them that no matter what my age is I am in charge. I've realized in most classes that its easier for me to try to relate to them on their level than to try to overrule them...I love coming up with games on the spot to make assignments more interesting. I've only had to turn into the "mean sub" 2 times so far, when the class got completely out of control. I'm a laid back person who remembers what it was like to sit in the classrooms and just do bookwork all day as the sub glared at you like a vulture waiting for an injured animal to die....it's quite frightening. Anyway, my point was that you have to show them that you respect them as people by relating to them, and in turn they will show you respect.


New Member
Thanks for the Feedback!

I have a degree in Elementary Education, but I LOVE subbing at the Jr. High/High School level! I only sub for English/Language Arts--and I only work at one Jr. High and one High School. (My scope is narrow, but absenteeism runs strong, and I am constantly requested!) The office asked me to fill in for Industrial Tech--so I was doing them a "favor" (plus I wondered what life outside of the English department was like...)

I’d like to think I’m witty, humorous, and fair--because I remember having plenty of terrible subs in my past… Plus, I have a 7th grade daughter, so relating to teens is not a problem. I am not one to get in the students faces and demand respect. Instead, I treat them professionally, with a friendly, kind demeanor. When I treat students with respect, in turn, I expect respect (the Golden Rule.)

Earlier (in a previous class), the students were at the computer lab, completing career packets (what they wanted to be when they grew up.) One student flippantly said he wanted to be a plastic surgeon, so that he could help Michael Jackson. I replied that there wasn’t any help for Michael Jackson! That immediately cracked up the class. Then I proceeded to tell them that I was Michael’s biggest fan in the 80s…you know, old-school Michael, about 3 noses ago (yes, this is a shameful secret from my past…) The class wanted to know if I could moonwalk, and they offered to teach me how to do the gangsta c-walk (I politely deferred.) I had the toughest (literally and figuratively) student do a turn-about, and he worked well all hour (along with the entire class.) I didn’t become the evil sub (although it could’ve easily gone that way at the beginning of the hour), and we respected one another.

The last class of the day (7th hour—the class that frustrated me!) didn’t know the meaning of respect. They were rude and unruly. While in the computer lab they pulled at the mini-blinds…they threw paper…they banged on the keyboards until they locked up…etc. I moved and separated students, and I handled the physical issues. However, the noise issue never got resolved. I didn’t expect them to sit like quiet monks—although that would’ve been great. But yelling across the room isn’t cool, and disturbing other classes (who were testing) was just plain rude! My call for their cooperation and attention didn’t work…the other teacher’s lecture didn’t work…no amount of “please work quietly” worked!

Just to clarify: I did not punish the entire class. I discretely told the well-mannered students that they weren’t being punished and didn’t have to do the assignment. (I was always a good student, and I HATED being punished along with my wrong-doing classmates!) And, yes, I was quite surprised that some students had the nerve to write rude comments AND include their name! Quite gutsy…

As I stated, I would’ve loved to send the majority of this class to the office. However, this school district has the policy that the student is always right (well, it seems that way :)) In order to maintain student rights (and discipline students), they must be warned at least 500x about their behavior…they must receive “multiple verbal redirection”…a private discussion…a change of seat…etc. They are given so many chances before they ever can face the office! Looking back, I should’ve called the office and asked them to send security/an administrator to sit in on the class. (And I’ve learned that I shouldn’t do any “favors” for the office ;)

Augustus – I really enjoy your posts on this message board. You are always right on the money. Calling the coach directly is effective and brilliant! I’ll tuck away that bit of advice….thanks!


respect on both sides

First of all, I like the message about calling the coach directly. Wouldn't work for me in elementary school, but I got a laugh thinking about 16 year old Joe Cool getting blasted by the coach.

The respect thing is important, and so hard to express sometimes. We have a para that is great with the kids, especially special ed. She is tough and my first impression of her was that she was too hard on the kids. What I have learned watching her though, is how amazing she really is. As her relationship developed with these kids over the school year, she has shown that she could be tough and loving all at the same time. She talks with these children and listens to them. When a kid refuses to do his work, she'll say something like, "You'll do it because you love me." The whole class will start laughing or making comments. Then all at once, the room will get silent as the students watch to see the response of the child she was talking to in the first place. In most cases, the student will give in and do what she told them to. She tells them little stories here and there, but keeps it short so as not to interfere with the lesson. Then all at once, she stops and tells the kids to get back to work and amazingly they do. They love her, but they know not to get on her bad side.

I know as substitutes, we don't always have the time to get to know the students well enough to have these kinds of relationships. Some of us though, are in the same schools for years at a time, and the students feel they know us very well. Trying to get through our day, it is easy to forget that we need to let the kids feel like we respect them as well. It's easy to say, "Sit down. Stop talking. Get to work." There are times we have to do that, but getting to really know the kids make the job better for both sides. Aerobuff, you brought up a good point. The students want respect too.


Full Member
Sounds a bit like my day!


You might consider giving the essays to the principal. It might wake him up. But if he has students acting like this and he isn't taking an active role in teaching them to cooperate, I question whether or not he'll listen even while he's reading it in black and white. Sounds like a principal on his way out.

I found out yesterday that the principal I was working for deals out a double whammy to any kid who gets a referral from a substitute. He's trying to make his school "attractive" to subs so that he doesn't have too many vacant spots on Friday to fill with other subs and teachers on their planning period. They now pay them 15.00 extra (the regular teachers, but the substitutes can refuse) for every 45 minutes they take over.

And Augustus, you're so down to earth and gutsy. Love to read your posts. When I see your name I immediately click onto that message thread. Hope your week went well.

Ta Ta,


mme NPB

Full Member
tough yet loving

Twin2 I liked your description of the para who is tough but loving at the same time. I too have known people like that and I truly admire and respect them. I think that is the greatest combination of qualities for working with kids. I feel that is something I am always working on as a teacher though it is hard sometimes to transmit those qualities when subbing for only one day and under the conditions we are often working in. Yet I am always searching for a better way to work with the kids instead of using the stern, mean, authoritarian approach. If anyone knows how you integrate humour and love while also keeping control of the class, I would love to know! I realize that for some classes there may be no other approach than the militaristic one, but for those other, not-so-poorly behaved ones, tell me how some of you do it.