Day 10: Relationships

Posted on August 16, 2015


I was out Thursday for training. I read the substitute’s report. I was mad at my students…for about 10 minutes, then I was puzzled. It is only the 2nd week of school and I don’t know them very well yet. But there are two sides to every story, so Friday was spent listening to my kiddos. It was a moment to build the relationship between us. I’m very sad that a moment like this ever happened to them. But I’m very glad I took the day to not do math, but to hear their stories.

I genuinely feel for substitute teachers. I’ve subbed a time or eighty. I have to cover classes for colleagues who have an emergency. A room full of strangers is always intimidating and children can be cruel. But this one (name has been changed)…I think she’s crazy, or off her meds, or…wait. I’m judging. I promised I’d stop doing that.

Below is the relevant parts of the incident report I wrote about their day.

Hi all…

I came to campus before I went to training to make sure that my substitute arrived. Before she did, I made sure that the instructions for the students were clearly written on the board for each class so Ms. Teacher could largely have them read the board, mostly because that way I know what they were asked to do. Instructions were left at the door for the students to do just that.

Upon her arrival, she immediately requested that I turn down the air conditioner. The controls are locked, so I couldn’t comply. The room was not hot, as it was first thing in the morning.

She then asked for a fan. I do not have a fan. She then started talking to me, in a very cranky tone of voice, that she couldn’t believe that I didn’t have one.

She then asked for the plan. I told her that everything was written for the students on the board. This made her unhappier. She then asked me to write them on a sheet of paper while she cleaned up. She said that “she was  a neat freak” and that she wouldn’t be able to sit at my desk.  (My desk is never used; I don’t sit there. It is not completely empty, but there wasn’t anything on it besides a small pile of paper.) When I got back later in the afternoon, I saw that she had moved that pile, taped paper onto the top of my desk…for neatness, I assume. Pictures of the top of my desk are attached.

I then left for my training.

When I returned, I found my desk altered, plus five referrals and a suspension. The referrals were all for Period 7.

Back-to-school night happened that night, and one of my 7th period students said she was very sorry about what happened. She was not one of the referrals.

Whenever I get anything but a positive or neutral substitute report, I always ask the students for their side of the story. There were quite a few.

1st period: One student was threatened with being thrown out of class because she sneezed. Students said they couldn’t start the assignment really because it took her 45 (of the 50) minutes to take attendance all while telling the students that she “was a real teacher” and used to work at LAUSD, that she still lives with her mom, that she is 43 and doesn’t have kids. They said this was repeated to nearly every student when roll was called.

2nd period & 4th period: No reports, but they are both small and full of seniors.

3rd period: Not much reported, except that they said they were so scared after attendance that they just sat very still.

5th period: One student was removed by security for causing a disruption. On the paperwork she filled out, the disruption was that he “yawned too loudly”. The student demonstrated what he did (with additions from his classmates); it was an attempt to get attention, but it was indeed a yawn.
One student was told excitedly that her last name (Kerchival) means “horse” in French. Through the rest of class, Ms. Teacher would turn to her and say things like “What do you think of that, horse?” This was not told to me by said student, but several other students.

6th period is my prep.

7th period is my biggest challenge class on a good day. They aren’t angels; they are freshmen at the end of the day. The students said she started yelling at them before the tardy bell. Some students heard it and waited in the hall. My RSP tutor arrived, heard the yelling, and took the students who said they were “scared to go in there” back to the Tutoring room. She later corroborated the story the five students told that she threw them out and wrote them up because they “wouldn’t sit their asses down”. They waited in the hall (probably rather loudly); my next-door-neighbor had them go in to his room and asked them to write an incident report.
I let them have today, but Monday…we will discuss that they maybe added to an already bad situation.

Below are pictures of my desk as it was when I arrived back on campus.

IMG_0349 IMG_0350 IMG_0351

Those are individual sheets of paper taped to the surface of the desk. As I never sit there, I don’t really care. But the students said she said she was a “neat freak”, which makes the sneezing and coughing issues make more sense.

Please do not let her be anywhere near any of my kiddos ever again, for their safety and for hers. I do not think they will be nice to her should she return.

Thank you for your consideration.

My signature.

Addendum: As of Friday at lunch, she was scheduled to be my substitute for 2 of the last three days of training. Nearly every one of my colleagues had stories from last year: how she had almost punched another teacher, of how she had been assigned to RSP (which means travelling from classroom to classroom) and she refused to do it but had a screaming match with HR that she “better get paid but she isn’t doing that”, etc. There were so many awful stories.

The secretaries said that they’ve been trying to get her banned since last year, but no one had actually filed an incident report, so they had no grounds. My colleagues are on my poo list for not taking care of that. Grrrr…..

She was on-campus again Friday as a substitute for another math teacher for the training; the brand-spanking-new principal went to her room while she was making herself familiar with the campus and introducing herself to everyone. While she was in Ms. Teacher’s class, there were occasional “Woooot” sounds. She asked the students what it was; they quietly told her that Ms. Teacher had been making the sound all period.

As of Friday night, she is no longer scheduled to be my substitute for any of the remaining days of the training. I’d like to believe the Incident Report made it so she will not be scheduled at my school ever again. I’m guessing the “Woooot” thing in front of the principal didn’t help.

I’m glad she’s not going to be near my kiddos again.

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