July 2008
Vol 5 No 7

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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.7 July 2008

Cover Story by Sue Gruber
It’s Summer…Time to Shift Gears and Re-energize!
A lighthearted perspective on what summer break can and should be.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
Eight Year Summary of Articles

»To Tell the TruthLeah Davies
»Discipline Without Stress, Inc.Marvin Marshall
»Teaching through Summer TV ViewingCheryl Sigmon
»A New Unified Field TheoryTodd R. Nelson
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Get the Most Out of Being MentoredHal Portner
»Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman
»Keyboarding: Some Assembly RequiredRob Reilly

»Who’s Cheating Whom?
»Dealing with Dishonesty
»How To Prevent Cheating in Middle and High School
»When Is Student Failure The Teacher’s Fault
»Frogs Predict Massive Chinese Quake of 2008
»July 2008 Writing Prompts
»What Are We Doing? And Why Are We Doing It?
»"Boys Read" Effort Aims to Turn Boys Into Readers
»A Teaching Guide for Summer Song
»12 Test Taking Strategies that Boost Student Scores!
»Gardner-Style Lesson Plan: Molecular Basis of Heredity
»Federal Government Resources for Educators
»You Be the Chemist Activity Guides

»Cheaters! Teachers talk about their experiences
»Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids
»Candles of Inspiration: July 2008
»Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: July 2008
»Video Bytes: The "Impotence" of Proofreading and More
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration for July 2008
»Live on Teachers.Net: July 2008
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
»Using Test "Cheat Sheets" To Enhance Student Learning
»"Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can't, Teach"
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Sue Gruber

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Alfie Kohn, Marvin Marshall, Cheryl Sigmon, Marjan Glavac, Todd R. Nelson, Hal Portner, Leah Davies, Barbara Pressman, Tim Newlin, James Wayne, Alan Haskvitz, Bill Page, Susan Fitzell, Meryl D. Joseph, John Martin, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, L. Swilley, and YENDOR.

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Barbara Pressman

Advice for Substitute Teachers
Archive | Biography | Resources | Discussion

"That’s not fair!" and "May I go to the Nurse?"
*NEW* feature! An advice column for Substitute Teachers by the author of "Substitute Teaching from A to Z"! (McGraw-Hill, 2008)
by Barbara Pressman
Substitute Teaching from A to Z (McGraw-Hill, 2008)
New Regular contributor to the Gazette
July 1, 2008

Substitute Teachers are an integral part of every school system. In support of that essential segment of the education community, Teachers.Net is happy to present…

Dear Barbara - Advice for Substitute Teachers

NEW! The author of Substitute Teaching from A to Z (McGraw-Hill, 2008) writes monthly in response to questions from Substitute Teachers.

"That’s not fair!"

Dear Barbara,

Last week, I subbed in a middle school. An eighth grader, Sophia, was being very cruel to another girl in the class. I sensed that I had to step in.

When I spoke to Sophia about her behavior, she felt that I had singled her out and picked on her. She responded with the dreaded comment "That’s not fair!"

I try to be fair, but there are times when I must stop inappropriate behaviors. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I focus on the entire class, or single out a certain individual, I still hear that "it’s not fair."

Is there any way to be sure that I am fair at all times?

Alex in Massachusetts

Dear Alex,

The simple answer to your question is no.

All teachers hear the "not fair" comment. If the young lady in your class was cruel to a classmate, you had to intercede before the incident escalated. No student feels that she deserves a consequence for disruptive or inappropriate behavior. From the student’s point of view, she did nothing wrong, and will say that she is being "picked on". Hence, any reaction by you is "unfair".

When students say, " it’s not fair," they are attempting to manipulate you. Because it’s your job to manage the classroom, you must stand firm and maintain order. When the need arises, state consequence with authority - without guilt or unease. If it’s perceived as unfair, so be it. Your job is to keep that class safe, so that learning can take place.

One way to ensure fairness is to uncover the true cause of the disruption. Be sure you understand what happened. Never punish the whole group for the actions of just one child. Isolate the offender, give her a warning, and then follow through with your consequence. If you see two or three students seriously misbehaving, act quickly with a warning. If misbehavior continues, write a referral to remove the students. This will set the tone that you are in control. And that’s a secure feeling for both the students and you!


"May I go to the Nurse?"

Dear Barbara,

Last week, I was assigned to a first grade classroom. The students were well behaved and cooperative for most of the day. But as soon as I announced that we would be starting Math at 11:00, a steady stream of children asked to go to the nurse. It was very disruptive. It was obvious to me that this was an "avoidance" tactic. I’m not sure how to handle it.

I don’t want to deny a sick child a visit for medical help, yet I am almost positive some faking was going on! What should I do?

Jennifer in Florida

Dear Jennifer,

When you are subbing in the primary grades, visits to the nurse are a common occurrence as you begin a subject that presents a challenge to younger children. Math is hard for many students, and what better way to avoid the frustration and failure than going to the nurse?

Remember, the nurse is a nurturer. She shows sympathy. She gives you band aids. She listens to your complaints. She may even call Mom and let you go home early!

Experienced teachers and subs are aware of the "nurse" tactic. Rather than embarrass a child, or risk misreading a serious illness, I suggest that you tell the child that if she visits the nurse, she must be pretty sick. If she’s that sick, she’ll have to sit and rest during recess. She won’t be able to play with her classmates, because sick children must rest as much as possible.

This response often brings on a miraculous recovery, and the visit to the nurse may be unnecessary after all!


Editor's note: Post your most interesting stories about Substitute Teaching here.

» More Gazette articles...

About Barbara Pressman...

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.

Barbara is the author of book
Substitute Teaching from A to Z (McGraw-Hill, 2008), available in all major bookstores and To find out more, visit:

Substitute Teachers:
Barbara invites you to submit your question by email. Your question could appear in a future column!

Barbara Pressman Articles on Teachers.Net...
Related Resources & Discussions on Teachers.Net...