Here are some changes we can make to make our jobs as teachers and substitute teachers easier to manage.
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Greg Collins,Substitute Teachers Lounge, it's April 2 2023. And I tell you what, I've been reading things on the substitute teachers lounge facebook group page that made me want to record this,because some of the things I've read on there indicate to me that we're making our jobs too difficult on ourselves. So let's see what we can do about it. I'm going to talk about things I've read there. And you know, before you know it before we're finished, I might even talk about my performance review as a financial manager. Back in 1993,what in the world is going on?All right, guys, for those of you that are still with me,after I announced, I'm going to share my 1993 performance review with you, bless your hearts,there's a reason for it. It's gonna be a little bit later. But I hope by the way, let me go ahead and say I didn't just do this to try to get you to go to the facebook group page, but I am actually getting request for membership to that page every day multiple requests. So you might as well be there too, we'd get to discuss things in a little bit more detail. I actually, I don't let people misbehave on there, I won't let them call out somebody or be disrespectful to them. But I will let them bring up topics that are sometimes difficult to discuss. So if you want to be a part of that, or even if you just want to read part of the discussions about that, jump over there. Here recently now,you know, I've had episodes about phones in the classroom,and how I feel about it. I'll preface this conversation by saying four years ago, I think it was the year after I substitute taught for the first time the high schools in our area, let students have their phone in the classroom while class was going on. And there were two teachers out of maybe100 classes that complained to the principal about a principle about it, and they changed it,you know, I won't go over that last episode that I did about phones, you know that I'm in favor of phones. And I'm also in favor of those who figure out a way to use the phones in the classroom. So all that was behind me, I did my episode.This week in the Facebook page for substitute teachers lounge,someone posted, they were bragging about the fact that they went into a school. And before the day was over, they had collected, I think, maybe 13phones of students that had violated in my opinion. Now, you know, I am hardcore. On the other side of the argument, in my opinion, the person that posted this on the page was bragging about it, I think they were looking for people to post,Oh, you did such a great job.Well, unfortunately for that person. All our posts now have to be approved by me because we've had some bot issues and some people that tried to sneak in there and make posts they shouldn't in sales post. So now everything has to be approved.And I approve things quickly. So it's probably pretty superficial to those that post. But since I saw his comment, I approved it.And I want it to be the first one to respond. And here's what I said. And I'm paraphrasing all this. I don't want to read it verbatim. Purposely because I don't want to call anybody out.There's other times where this discussion has come up. So it's not necessarily just what happened this week. It's just the one that intrigued me and made me want to do this episode.So after I read all that and released it, I said, all right.You did what the school policy was. But it is my opinion that school policies need to change and teachers need to figure out a way to work in smartphones into the curriculum, so that the teachers and the substitute teachers don't have the pressure of having to enforce that policy, because they're using their phones anyway. And the person responded and said, I think the school put that policy in because they didn't want the students looking up answers on their smartphone And then he went on to say, and they have Chromebooks in the room. All right now think about that. Think about those last two sentences. They don't want people. They don't want students to look up things on their phones. And they have Chromebooks in the room. So I just responded, can't they look up answers on the Chromebooks too, you know, it's kind of we make convenient excuses to fill in the holes where we want them to be. Now, I respect everybody's opinion, I will never say anybody's opinion is wrong opinions, by definition can't be wrong, because they're not facts. They're just how we feel about things. That's how I feel about phones. Back when I was younger, we didn't have phones, we didn't even have calculators in the room. So were we not doing anything to ignore the teacher? No, we pass notes,that was our version of the smartphone. fact it might have taken longer and taken up more class time to pass notes than to do it electronically. I snuck in transistor radios with little earplugs that were wired to listen to World Series ballgames in the middle of class, and I made pretty good grade. So all that happened, and the grades still fell into place. So I think we make it too difficult on ourselves by just making a flat statement, like no phones in the classroom, and then all the teachers in the subs have to figure out a way to enforce that. What we're going to do,are we going to take on them,are we going to give them to the office, I hesitate on that,because we've gotten to such a situation now where if an emergency comes up, we want to reach somebody immediately. So all that enters into the discussion. So let's stop making the job difficult on ourselves.And teachers. Just work the smartphones into your curriculum, let them use those and substitute teachers. When you're there, you're not really part of the curriculum. But one approach that I've taken before is just to say, I hate unless there's a really, really strict policy at the school. If I know the teacher are mentioned that I usually don't have any problem with phones, but I do walk around, and I'll make sure they know if I see one abuse on that phone, then everybody in the room has to put their phone up.And I'm not a big fan of one person causes trouble for everybody else. But that's the best way to enforce it. Because it puts a little pressure on that student. They know that if they get in trouble, they've cost the entire classroom a convenience, and they're going to be fussed out a little bit by their fellow classmates.Sometimes that's the way to be disciplined. So number one,quit making it difficult on ourselves, allow the students to use phones, work it into the curriculum, and then go from there. And that way we get over this silliness of collecting phones when they go in the room.different age groups, of course,you're going to have to adapt that. But that's my first one about not making the job difficult on ourselves. Now, the year was 1993, I was having a performance review. And it was a little lower than I was expecting because I thought I'd done a good job. And then it was I was reading down through it.And the supervisor just handed it to me and asked him asked me if I had any questions that didn't bother bother to go over it. I said, Well, I can't believe he graded me in this spot here. It was basically, I think it was a one to five and then I got to looking.He had erased a higher grade on three different things and gave me a lesser grade. Was it because he changed his mind? No,it was because he did all his reviews. He added them up. But he knew that his department only had so much salary increase budget for his area, he had to fit in that budget. And to fit us in the budget since it was all based numerically on our performance reviews. He had to go back and lower grades, or I should say, peer review marks so that it fit into the budget. Now that is ridiculous. Now how does that relate to anything? And by the way? Yes. Back then I did tell them that I thought that was ridiculous to have to. You got to fit into a budget but to not be able to grade your employees properly made it terrible in my opinion. Now,here's what I've seen in some schools. They will promise kids,you get your grades up to here.You're going to have this kind of party in there.And maybe they get some budget restraints. And they have to back off well, that then you got to go back to the students and say, Yeah, you did really well.But we just don't have the money to treat you the way we had wanted to treat you. You know,for that matter. Now that I say all that it's the same with teachers, teachers don't get treated as well, possibly as they should, because of money constraints, it falls into that category too. But with students,before teachers, first of all,and administrators make sure that you don't make promises you can't keep financially, we are there to get those students to better themselves better their grades, and doggone it, if we want to have it, just use the Olympics as an example, if we want to have gold, silver and bronze students, and each level gets a little bit more than the last. You better darn well make sure you've got the money to do all that. Because if you have to back off of it, that is the ultimate demotivator. Why as a student should I work so hard to get my grades up? If they're really not going to give me anything they promised anyway?Well, that we make the job harder on ourselves as teachers and administrators. Sometimes when we do that, now, that doesn't happen very often. But if we want to break it down less, or at a lower level, let's just say, Don't promise things to students that can't be delivered. And that trickles over to the substitute teacher to don't promise students something in the classroom.While you're there that you can't deliver. Maybe you put a problem, maybe you've forgotten,you know, I'm a Jolly Rancher guy, because they're so cheap,and the kids love them both. So don't put something up on the board if you've forgotten your candy, because you don't think anybody's going to figure it out. And then when somebody figures this out, you don't have the candy to get them. I've done that before. And in my case, I just forgot the candy. It was like at my house and I didn't bring it in, I just tell them, I bring it in the next time I say you and I've made good on my promise every time. But don't make things hard on ourselves.Again, really, it's the same as the last one by promising things that we can't deliver as a substitute teacher. If you say,All right, I'm going to take now this, I have taken phones, let's go back to the phone discussion.If you say, I'm going to take your phone, if you've got it out, like during the test,during a time that you need to be maybe reading and phones just don't go as well worth reading as other things.I will take it away from you.Now what I will do partially, I don't want it to make it difficult on anybody because I don't know I just am sympathetic towards the students. So even if I told them that, I hold their phone for about 10 minutes and give it back to them. And then I'll say to everybody, I believe in second chances. But I only believe in second chances. I don't believe in third chances.Okay, so that really does pretty well, I haven't had to take a phone away from a student twice in the same class, they easily learned their lesson, but stopped making the classroom harder on ourselves by putting rules in there and perhaps rewards that we can't deliver on okay. The final one is a little bit more generic in maybe even philosophical than anything else that I've talked about so far.It goes back to the old rule,whether you're a Bible person or not to treat others the way you want to be treated. Now, if you go in if your shtick is to go into a classroom and be a jerk,you think the kids are going to respect you more that way. Well,guess what? Every opportunity they get, they're going to be a jerk to if you go out of your way not and I'm not saying to be soft, but if you go out of their way to be nice and helpful to them. They tend to be nice and helpful to you. I would suggest that you work on your delivery as a substitute teacher when you're in the classroom. Try to be a pleasant person. You know,I talk to parents, sometimes students that I have had in the classroom. I normally it's usually volleyball players to be honest, because I'll occasionally see them at a volleyball game and they'll come up and talk. They know that I've had them. They'll tell me maybe that their player really likes it when I substitute teach their class. And I never I never say the words I like your your child is a student or they're one of my favorite Students what I normally will say they are I like having them in their class because they are just a pleasant person. And I know I can depend on them to answer questions to help others out in the classroom. And those are the kinds of students that let's face it, we enjoy hanging in there with us. But it's just like, you know, this as a teacher and a substitute teacher, generally speaking,students, you will see them behave, perhaps like their parents, or maybe their living situation, or maybe the people they hang around with. Well,guess what, that works with teachers too. So if you behave in a way, in a classroom, to purposely and you maybe not even being doing on purpose, but this way that works out, purposely make those kids dislike you,they will return the favor.Okay? If you instead go into the classroom, and you say, all right, kids were in here. To learn today, I think I'm gonna probably learn as much as you do. You're nice to them. You get some rules out real quickly, but you're nice about it, maybe what they're allowed to call you. I know a lot of you don't like to go by your first name. But if your last name is Collins, maybe you can tell them I'm alright with Mr. C. And they kind of think that's cool, and you broken the eyes, you're still going to have troublemakers. But let's stop making things hard on ourselves by going in and insisting I'm the big bad teacher to make your life miserable. Instead, go in and say, I'm here for you. I want to help you. I want you to at least like me enough as a substitute teacher that you want me to come back because I want to come back and teach you guys. So that's it. Doggone it. Let's stop making teaching and substitute teaching hard on ourselves.Let's make it easy on yourself instead. And I think you're going to find that you're going to have a lot more enjoyable experience.