Monday, March 28, 2011

A Word on Student Accountability:

I received an interesting phone call Friday afternoon that I thought I’d share.  I didn’t meet the teacher I’d subbed for on Thursday, but her phone call impressed me because it shows the effort she puts into professionalism.

After subbing for a few years, this is the very first phone call from a teacher that was not primarily to inquire about a job (although she did that, too).  This teacher called me because of the note I left her about her students.

Long story short, the behavior in the classroom was about average.  There were no huge issues, but they also didn’t receive a glowing review.

The one issue that did interest this teacher was a mention I gave about two boys who decided it would be fun to play in the restroom.  When I let their table go on a restroom break, those two boys took a long time coming back, and they happened to be escorted by another teacher.  Apparently, they had been making a game of throwing tons of wet paper towel wads into the trashcan, and teasing younger students who entered the restroom.

I was upset.  Not only had they done something wrong, but also another staff member had to get involved.  Because this happened after recess was over, the only leverage I had was to tell them that their teacher would be hearing about this in my note. 

It’s not much, but it’s one of the few things subs have as a resource.  And it hinges entirely upon the regular teacher’s commitment to holding students accountable for their behavior with a sub.  A lot of times, I don’t think my notes make much of a difference.  If I point out a student was disrespectful, or did something wrong, or didn’t do their work, I have no way of knowing if that student will actually be reprimanded and corrected by the teacher.  A lot of times, I know it’s an effort in futility to mention student behavior because the kids know the teachers don’t care.  But I do it anyway.

And this teacher did care.  She called me and informed me that she was so chagrined about those boys’ behavior that they are no longer allowed to go to the restroom at the same time, and they would be missing recess on Monday, and she was so happy that I took the time to leave her a detailed note and actually try to correct students.  And would I be available in two weeks to sub for her class again, by any chance?

I was a bit surprised, but impressed.  The incident warranted exactly what she did, in my opinion, but I really appreciated that she wanted me to know that she was holding her boys accountable.  Perhaps my giving a detailed note about behavior is what made her want to request me again.  I’ve heard some subs say that they always say they had a good day, no matter what, to make it appear that they can manage a class well.  I choose to be honest in notes, and leave teachers a real report about good and bad behavior.  I hope all teachers, like this one, make it clear students that the sub report does hold some weight.


image: microsoft


  1. A lot of times, I know it’s an effort in futility to mention student behavior because the kids know the teachers don’t care. But I do it anyway.

    It bothers me that ANY child would think their teacher doesn't care about their behavior. :/

    My kiddos know that if I get a negative note from a sub, it doesn't mean I am going to call the sub to ask about it, but there ARE going to be consequences. I've even gone so far a few times, depending on the severity of the infraction, made the students write letters to that sub about their behavior and how they are going to do better next time.

  2. I love it! Students who know that they're going to answer for their behavior are far more likely to correct themselves, I think. It's great when students react to a fair warning that "Ms. Soandso would hate to hear about this in my note."

  3. I had a few disrespectful 1st graders when I was subbing a few years back.I wrote the teacher a note about it and the next time I subbed for that class, the 3 students had apology notes for me. I think it's great when teachers follow through, and I hope a lot more do than don't!

  4. That's so great! I bet you didn't a problem out of those kids the next time, too.

  5. That's so great, i enjoyed to read it.

  6. I found a link to your blog from something else I clicked on in Pinterest (very convoluted path, lol). Anyway, I've browsed through from the beginning to mid-2011, and I've finally decided that I have to do other things.

    I just want to thank you for a very, very helpful blog for substitutes. Next time that I can get here, I plan to start at the front!

    Thanks again,
    Linda in northeast Iowa

  7. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog! Haha, I know how it can be on Pinterest. There are so many helpful resources there!