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    talkative class
    By Carolyn

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    I have worked in public school classrooms since 1985, both as a substitute teacher and as a full-time teacher. In my travels as a sub, I experienced a number of days as you describe.

    What you need to remember is that it's not your fault that these children acted this way. Don't take it personally. There are good classes, and some not so good. There are basically two reasons why classes of kids act the way you describe:

    1. They usually act this way for their regular teacher! Yes, it's true. I teach a fifth grade class this year which is a "bad mix." They have been together in the same classroom since they were in Kindergarten, and they act the way you describe. It's a really tough class to work with!
    Our guidance counselor has tried to work with them, and our principal has suspended them! I have done everything I can to help them get along better and behave.

    2. The other reason is that the regular teacher may not work all that hard at discipline. I knew one teacher who was in his last year before retirement. He just let his class go. I knew another long-time teacher who was in self-professed burnout, and his class was rowdy. As you gain experience as a sub, you quickly learn which teachers are tough and have well-behaved classes, and which ones are easy going. Some teachers are not true disciplinarians, preferring instead to be "warm and fuzzy."

    As a sub, you can do several things with such a class: You can promise them a privilege if they behave. Positive reinforcement actually seems to work better than punishment with kids like the ones you have described. My sub gets around my kids' behavior by giving them extra-long recess. It works for her. I would be sure to leave the regular teacher a note about the kids' behavior. Another thing you can do is complain to the principal about the class. Once my sub left me a not about the kids' "bad behavior," and I referred the matter to the principal because the sub evidently did not. Finally, you can also scratch that class from your list of future classes to visit.

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