During my last subbing assignment, I had a student who was unable to focus and was consistently off task. When this happened, I found it was easier to ignore him, rather than stop the flow for the class.
I know that may not be the best thing for that child, but it kept me from wasting class time, and as long as he was not disturbing the students, it kept peace in the room.
Was I unfair to this student by ignoring him?
Gina in Minneapolis
There is a delicate balance that good subs learn to achieve – the needs of one vs. the needs of all. If student X is off task, but not disturbing the others, you should finish your lesson with the class. When you get a free moment, walk over to that student and redirect him. You may have to repeat your directions and spend more time there, but it’s worth it, because you were able to continue with the lesson for the group.
Another technique would be to use proximity to student X. Teach from his desk and use nonverbal signals with him. But be sure not to interrupt the flow of the lesson.
Student X may become defiant and refuse to do his work. If this happens, quietly take him aside, look him in the eyes, and tell him that he must get started. If you still experience opposition, make an arrangement. Say that you will give him a few minutes to “rest and prepare himself” and that you’ll be back to check on him in a few minutes. Walk away. This usually defuses the situation.
Barbara Pressman is an adjunct professor at the College of Education, Florida Atlantic University. She has been a classroom teacher for more than 20 years, and a supervisor for student teachers for 10 years. She currently mentors Substitute Teachers as well.
Teachers.Net asked Barbara how she came to be interested in writing for substitute teachers. Her response:
I have subbed for many years during my teaching career. When my children were small, I found subbing to be a wonderful "free lance" job. At that time, I took on a 6th grade long term subbing assignment, which led me back to full time teaching. Upon retirement, I went back to subbing once again.