Sub-ordinate Students

Many substitutes view the day differently than they tell the teachers.

Darcy Biermeyer, Editor

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  The classroom can be a very tense and frightening place at times. Discussions can lead to arguments and disagreements can lead to fights, but perhaps the most futile struggle is not for the students, but for the substitute teachers trying to maintain control of a classroom.

  Some substitutes argue that students treat them far differently than their regular instructors. “Definitely some subs are mistreated,” said one sub that used to teach at PVHS, who inspired this inquiry. However, others disagree, such as Mr. Arone (aka Macaroni), who claimed that “as a common generalization, no, most students do not mistreat substitutes any more then they would their teacher.”

  One sub, who had been a teacher for over 30 years and a current sub for one year, recounted the “abuse” he has received — kids on their phones, walking out of class, talking back. He reports that it is common for students to just take advantage of the substitute’s ignorance of their names, which makes it easier for them to be insubordinate.

Sometimes, selfies are simply more important than classwork.

  Another, who has been subbing for 18 months, agrees that subs are often treated poorly. For her, the disrespect continues beyond just the classroom: “I have received verbal insults about my physical features and racial comments about by ethnicity,” she comments.

  Substitutes aren’t always so displeased with their classes. Macaroni says his experiences over the past four years of substituting “have been almost entirely pleasant.” He doesn’t feel as though there is much in the way of “abuse” towards substitutes.

This image seems to be a “staple” of substitute life.

“There have been isolated incidents, such as having a stapler thrown ‘at’ me, but that was due to the student’s frustration and would have happened regardless with a substitute or teacher alike.” Macaroni compared a substitutes job to “a grandparent taking the kids out for a day of fast food and candy and then dropping them off at home.”

  One substitute commented that it is part of the teacher’s responsibility to help prepare the class for a substitute. “It’s a lot easier if the teacher tells their students there will be repercussions for bad behavior in the presence of a sub–even more importantly, they actually enforce it,” he said.

  Another sub called for much more dramatic action: security visiting each class, staff enforcing the repercussions substitutes suggest, and banning all cell phones. That way, each sub would not have to take the individual situations into their own hands, but pass it off onto someone more qualified or prepared.

  Students don’t believe it is necessarily their fault alone when the class environment is disruptive. “Sometimes students are not cruel to subs because of the fact that they are subs, but rather that they aren’t good teachers in general,” stated Sabrina Jaynes, a junior. “Students are quick to judge, and if a substitute is treated poorly, maybe it’s because they did something to deserve it.”

  That isn’t to say that the students aren’t at fault at all. “There are troublesome kids, of course, but they are going to misbehave whether there is a regular teacher there or not,” Jaynes added.

Students resort to many different ways to beat the boredom.

  While some subs have good experiences, some definitely do not. In the end there seems to be a general consensus: the attitude of students reflects on the relationships within the class, and “it may have more to do with the demeanor of the substitute than the student body itself.”

About the Writer
Darcy Biermeyer, Head Editor

I really, really love writing, mostly because I love arguing. Dogs are pretty great too - especially Great Danes. In fact, I have one (Bones, aka the love...


6 Responses to “Sub-ordinate Students”

  1. Madison Dunn on May 4th, 2018 8:20 am

    It’ s about time someone recognized the abuse that some subs deal with. A lot of the time students purely disrespect the subs because they usually can get away with it. Granted it’s very clear that the photos are staged.

  2. Jazmine Cook on May 4th, 2018 8:29 am

    I think substitute teachers are definitely treated poorly compared to a students regular teacher. When there is a sub students don’t feel the need to respect them the same way they do their normal teacher. They talk while the teacher is talking and sometimes they won’t even pay any attention to what is going on. I think students are more likely to respect and listen to a teacher that they know. The article is written greatly. It shows the opinion of multiple substitute teachers and even the opinion of a student which I think is a good quality to the story.

  3. Sabrina Jaynes on May 11th, 2018 1:59 pm

    I have never had any experiences regarding poor treatment to subs, rather they would leave a bad review for something ridiculous. For example, the other week we had a sub for my AP U.S. History class, in which he was instructed to let us study together. He left a note saying that we were the worst class all day and we refused to stay quiet. But our objective was to study together. Many subs have a negative image associated with the students, leading for small occurrences to seem dramatic. While there will always be real negative experiences, subs shouldn’t take things so personal.

  4. Julia Harriss on September 24th, 2018 1:44 pm

    I find the pictures funny and the article interesting.

  5. Brian Wilson on October 10th, 2018 2:07 pm

    I agree with the fact that “substitutes are mistreated” because usually when a teacher is out on leave, a student believes that the sub has no authority and can’t do anything. This is rather bad due because when stuck-up students get told what to do, they usually become hostile even to the point of physicality.

  6. Mollie Falline on October 11th, 2018 1:40 pm

    Students are insubordinate when there is a substitute present, and they often “take advantage of the substitute’s ignorance of their names,” thinking they will not face any consequences for acting up. Students act out in class when there is no teacher or other staff present to get them in real trouble. They have learned that when there is a substitute teacher, they act as though the rules don’t apply to them, as they go on their phones and yell across the room, disrupting those still trying to get their own work done.

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