Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Battle Stories

Today was a good day in substitute land, bookended by weird, ironic idiocy. At the end of the day, there was a brawl between two boys, minutes after an anti-bullying presentation had finished (irony, much?). At the beginning of the day, there was this:

I was in Josie's 5th grade class today, which can be rough at times, but which I also really enjoy because I know most of the kids. Since they also know and like me, they generally behave pretty well. Sometimes they're a little sassy, but not in a mean or terribly disrespectful way, and I tolerate it to a point.

Tuesdays, though, are when the kids have Spanish. The woman who teaches it, Senora B, is a large, bug-eyed woman, about 50, who never smiles. She pushes a cart from classroom to classroom, in two different schools. The kids unanimously hate her. She's rude-bordering-on-hostile to them, chewing them out if they so much as hold a pencil while she's talking, expecting even the K children to be absolutely silent when she's there, and tries to take recess away from entire classes when more than one or two children, in her opinion, act up.

In the past, she's been witchy to me, demanding that I give her materials (she also does some intervention work in the mornings for children when she's not doing Spanish) when none have been left for me to give her to use, and basically insults the teachers who don't leave anything, even though I found out that what she does generally doesn't change, so there doesn't *need* to be anything left for her.

Today, she showed up in my classroom first thing. There were only about ten kids, because several of them had gone to enrichment (merit) math class, and others went to intervention (special assistance) math class. In my directions from the regular classroom teacher, it said very specifically that I was to help with behavior control in the classroom during the half-hour lesson as needed. I stayed in my seat, because things began just fine.

The students' assignment was to take a survey of whose birthday was in what month, so they all had to get up and ask each other when their birthdays were, and several came over to me to ask when mine was. I told them, of course, and laughed when they were shocked that it's on Halloween. Then, another boy was wandering around with juice in his hand from breakfast, and I told him to throw it out. Meanwhile, she began to scold one of the boys for talking.

That's right - the assignment was to talk to each other, and she scolded him for talking. He was probably talking about something other than birthdays, I suppose, but I had seen him doing his work a moment before, and he wasn't causing an undue disturbance. In fact, he was probably talking about my birthday, since he had just left me. She took his paper, tore it in half, and made him sit at the back table.

THEN, she came over to me, looked down her nose, and said, 'I know you think you're helping, but you're not. I'm in charge of this classroom now.'

I'm going to let that marinade in your thought bubbles.

OMG, people, I thought I was going to smack her. What a freakin bitch! Even worse, I was sitting down, so when she waddled over (I'm sorry, I'm not skinny either, but the woman walks like a duck) she was looking down like I was an errant child. I was SO MAD, I could barely think straight.

I knew what I WANTED to say. I *wanted* to tell her that I wasn't one of the children in her class that she could bully, and that I wasn't going to accept her talking to me that way, and furthermore, I wasn't going to allow her to speak to the children like that anymore, either. Oh, yeah. I wanted to say it SO BADLY!

Instead, I remembered that I was in a roomful of children, and that I am better than all of that. SO, I smiled at her, and told her that I had been specifically asked to help her with behavior control in the room, but that if she felt she didn't need it, then that was fine.

She waddled off, and I just looked at the boy stuck at the table next to me, and rolled my eyes at him. Yes, it was childish, but really, the woman is just way out of bounds, and I wanted him to know that he absolutely wasn't going to be punished. He was sitting there, looking miserable and furious, and that's a terrible way to start the day.

When the class time was over, she came back to the desk and put a post-it note down, telling me, 'this is for you', and off she went. It had two boys' names on it, along with instructions to keep them inside from recess for fifteen minutes each. Their recesses are only twenty minutes long, and I totally disagree with removing outdoor time, anyway, unless they've done something heinous. So, since I'm not 'helpful' in the classroom as far as she's concerned, I decided that I also wasn't adequate to help her punish them for these partially-imagined offenses. The note went unhelpfully into the trash, and the boys went outside.

I talked to the other 5th grade sub during lunch, and she said that Senora B treats her the exact same way, and did even when she was a student teacher for the entire last semester. I am focusing on the fact that she must truly be a miserable, joyless old woman. I can only imagine how unpleasant it is to wake up like that every morning, or to walk into the school knowing none of the kids like you even a little bit. I wouldn't be surprised if she's heard entire classrooms groan when they hear that it's Spanish day, since it's an open school and she's in the hallways frequently, and that has to hurt, deserved or not.

I think a big part of her problem is that she's so defensive about being perceived as a 'real teacher'; she must think that people see her as less-than because she doesn't have her own room. The sad thing is, she has a real opportunity to have a great, fun relationship with the kids - she only sees them once a week, and they play learning games every lesson - but she's so hard on them that no one wants to play them with her. She's like the playground bully who thinks she can force people to like her, and play by her rules, via brute strength. That's a sad way to spend every day, all year long.

There's really nothing I can do about her, or her treatment of anyone (including me). I'm not a full-time employee at the school, and I like working there; if I complain, it's more than likely they'll get rid of the substitute complainer rather than resolve any personnel issue. The best I can do is politely put her in her place, refuse to let her intimidate me, and damage-control with the kids after she leaves.

BUT, I did write on the teacher's lesson plan sheet, next to where she had said that I should help with Senora's crowd control, that I had been instructed very specifically that my assistance was not required. I know the teacher personally from church, and she will know what I meant. So there, Senora B-itchface.


d e v a n said...

Damn. She is a bitchface.

Stimey said...

Dude, that's horrible. I don't understand how someone can be so mean to kids. I'm glad you rolled your eyes in solidarity with that kid, and I'm glad you didn't keep those kids inside from recess. It is unfortunate that people like that are the ones who teach our kids sometimes.