1. Always stay an arms length away from any student you’re attempting to discipline.
1A. The first time you have to discipline a student get about an arms length away and ask them to stop their behavior in a quiet voice. Or, ask them to see you by the door. Sometimes it works. (Sometimes.)
2. Never engage in an argument. Once you start arguing with a student, you’ve lost. Be firm. Stick to your guns.
2A. Never get aggressive or let them see you get angry. In an urban school some students will actually get right in your face and challenge you to fight.
2B. If they call you “fat”, “faggot”, insult your mother, insult your ethnic heritage, your religion, the way you look or tell you to fuck off, call security. Write it down. Don’t engage.
2B i. Don’t count on security to actually come.
2C. Don’t get sarcastic. That’s what they want. It gives them an excuse to intensify hostilities.
2D. If a fist fight starts in class, get everyone out and knock on another teachers door to call security. Your duty is to your own safety first. You aren’t on salary. You don’t get health benefits. The Union will not protect you if you touch a kid. Get out of there, before you get hurt.
2E. If a student has a weapon or an improvised-weapon, call security immediately. Don’t try to confiscate it.
2F. If you suspect a student is drunk or high. Call security. Err on the side of caution.
3. Never take anything off of a students desk. If they’re brazenly texting and put it down in front of them, note it. Don’t take it.
4. Students occasionally will lie about their names or refuse to give their name. Find a snitch in class who tell you who’s who. Usually there’s at least one kid who has a conscience.
5. If you’re dealing with students from a country we’re at war/in (or tacitly supporting) with DO NOT ENGAGE IN ANY DISCUSSION ABOUT POLITICS OR WORLD AFFAIRS. These students will have a radically different worldview than you do. Even if they’re saying they hate this country and start shitting on everything American- DO NOT ENGAGE IN CONVERSATION WITH THEM. The American tradition of political debate is alien to them. I guarantee you, it’ll start a shouting match -with you as the loser (even if they’re the only ones doing the shouting)- especially once their parents find out. They won’t give a fuck if you’re a liberal democrat who was against invading their country. You will be accused of insulting their heritage and probably lose your job.
6. Write everything down.
7. Try to stay low key.
8. If they bug you about going to the bathroom, let them go. Note their leaving and return times. Even if the teacher has left you a strict policy NOT to let them go. You will always lose that battle.
9. Always write the teacher’s instructions on the board and keep reminding them about what they’re supposed to be doing.
10. Just remember, you may be certified as a teacher, but the Union WILL NOT DEFEND OR PROTECT YOU. All that bullshit about “an injury to one, is an injury to all” is reserved for teachers with tenure or a few years on the clock. You are untermenschen.
11. Spend you time in class doing something creative. Take a sketchbook. Start writing that great American novel. Do something creative or productive. Make something. (If you can take your eyes off the class for a second). Start researching grad school or training programs outside the field of education. You may never actually get a job as a real teacher. Some districts like their subs to stay subs…
12. Just remember, when their teacher is away it’s an excuse for the bad actors to take all their frustrations out on you- the temporary authority figure. You have to resign yourself to being an emotional punching bag.
13. Buy yourself a nice bottle of scotch with the $75 you made subbing on a given day. Enjoy a nice quiet drink after a bad day. You deserve it.
14. Do whatever you can to avoid writing a referral. Most principals put referrals from subs in the “circular file”. Leave a detailed note for the teacher. Let them handle it.
15. If you work for several school districts, remember to spread yourself around. You are only as good as the last day you worked for a particular school. They won’t care if you did a super job, or put up with a ton of shit. You are disposable. The reason why you’re a sub is because LOTS of other people can teach Social Studies, English or Art. If you disappear from a school for a month or two- or more- you’ll be dead to them.
16. Mentally prepare yourself to be a sub for 3-6 years.