Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Long-Term Sub

In a previous post I told the story of how I work in a kindergarten class that has seen a lot of changes this year. The regular teacher had a baby, and then a long-term substitute came in to fill her shoes for what ended up being about 10 weeks.

The sub's style was a drastic change from what the children had grown accustomed to. All the basic behavior management strategies employed by the original teacher were immediately discarded and replaced with sticker chart systems, sparkle raffles, and last minute schedule changes intended to keep the children interested by constantly stimulating them.

Not surprisingly, the class became louder and more rowdy with the substitute. I had to sit in a corner for almost three straight weeks with one student on the autism spectrum, reviewing social stories with him in an attempt to keep the child calm while the class went crazy.

When I brought up the well being of the above student with the sub, however, I was told that he was the problem. That his behaviors were out of control and that something needed to be done to keep him from wandering the room and having meltdowns.

She had all kinds of ideas, many of them good, most of which I implemented along with writing a functional behavioral assessment, a behavior intervention plan, and requesting that data be kept throughout the entire day (even when I wasn't in the room).

For all the substitute's insistence that the student needed the added visual supports we implemented, she didn't use them consistently. For all her verbal statements of support for the collection of quantitative data, she refused to use the clicker I gave her or to fill out the data sheets in the moments when episodes occurred. Instead she would fill in her parts of the data many minutes or hours after events occurred.

She was obsessed with the students who displayed poor behavior in that class and zeroed in on them with such force that students who had previously behaved started misbehaving either for attention and for the benefit of receiving rewards like ipad time and special chairs. I kept waiting for the class to become calm again and for the number of kids having behavior problems to decrease...



When the original teacher left, there were 5 students who demonstrated consistent behavioral problems. But by the end of the long term sub's time in that classroom there were 13.

A few days ago I was given a stack of placement forms to help fill out for the kindergarten class. Here are a few comments the long term sub wrote about her least favorite students:

"If something happens that upsets him, he becomes very angry (hot temper)."

"If she does not get her way, she will throw a full-blown tantrum where she throws herself on the floor/screams/refuses to follow directions."

"Even with support he still displays disruptive behaviors such as screaming/shouting, bad words, throwing objects, throwing himself on the floor."

"She is not disruptive, but often times is in 'la la land.'"

As an educator I am flabbergasted by how unprofessional this is. As a parent I am furious.


  1. I was probably one of those ‘la la land’ students when I was young. I guess this shows that kids respond to their environment. If the classroom is in chaos, they won’t behave.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. Really weird that the sub would act like this and somehow not realize that she is to blame. :-/


When Reality Sinks In

I am average--5'6" with a medium build, slightly ruddy skin tone, my hair neither brown nor blond. My IQ hovers somewhere between 1...