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PandaPrincess

Problems With Black- and- White Thinking at Work

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PandaPrincess

I work as a substitute teacher, and I find the most challenging aspect of the job to be classroom management.  The problem for me is that the school rules have so many gray areas, that I often find myself wondering at which point a behavior is unacceptable.  For instance, today, the kids were packing up to go home.  They were being loud, and I kept thinking, "Okay, are they being too loud?  Should I tell them to be quiet?  At what point are they considered too loud?"  And I was also thinking, "well, even if they are being a little loud, it's the end of the day, so does it really matter?  They're not hurting anyone."  Also, while this was happening, two kids bumped into each other and a chair fell on top of them, so I asked them if they were okay and I was still processing what happened there to even really think about what the rest of the kids were doing, and then, this loud-mouthed teacher came into the room and said "You're being waaaayyy too loud!  We could hear you clear across the school!!! It's embarrassing!!! Blah!  Blah! Blah!" And then I was thinking, "I didn't think they were that bad. No one is hurt, after all.  And it's the end of the school day too, so why does it matter?"  

So I guess I really have two issues here:  1. What kind of behavior is acceptable vs. non-acceptable  and 2. Understanding the rules in a concrete way.  I imagine situations such as the one I described above as a gradation with one end of the scale being "Completely Quiet" and the other end being "Too Loud" and I don't know where to draw the line because it's all very subjective and those two things can mean different things to different people, so I don't think that it can be objectively measured.  

I also really have a lot of trouble processing too much at once, and it just takes a while for me to take it all in and react to it appropriately, using the right words/phrases, tone of voice, body language, etc. and it's so exhausting.  I'd really like to know how to deal with situations like this better because I want the satisfaction of knowing that I did the job right instead of always feeling worthless and like a failure.  

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PandaPrincess

Oh, and also, one more thing that bothers me is that anyone (especially other teachers) would take one look at me and assume "Oh she's shy" or "Oh, she's trying to be friends with the students."  That is not the problem at all, and it makes me so mad when people tell me this :angry:.  Of course, I can't tell them what the real problem is because they will think I'm being over-dramatic.

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RiRi

Maybe you should set some guidelines in your classroom. Like the students can talk, but not be too loud. Maybe you can use the 6 inch voices method? I think I remember teachers using it on me in the classroom or I can't remember if I used it on students. That's why I can't remember very well how it goes, but what I'm trying to say is use a method where they know what it means by you just saying the name of the method. 

Some teachers I guess might be quiet towards the end or maybe class doesn't end until the bell rings, whatnot. At first when I read your post, I thought that maybe she likes her classroom quiet, but that doesn't mean you have to also keep yours quiet, after all, it is your classroom.

I don't have experience with the logistics of running an 8-3pm classroom so I don't really know how that works. But, I think if other teachers start complaining then you will have to lower it down at least a little maybe because neighboring classrooms are like having a roommate. Like a good roommate would be mindful of their roommate and whatnot while remembering they also have to get their own things done. Like be mindful of them, but also be mindful of you.

To be honest, I think that teacher went a bit overboard if she raised her voice like that. There's no need for that. She could have told you at least without raising her voice. Doing what she did, I believe should not be the way to get someone to stop or start doing something. I wish you could carry and manage your classroom however you want. You can't always please everyone.

5 hours ago, PandaPrincess said:

Oh, and also, one more thing that bothers me is that anyone (especially other teachers) would take one look at me and assume "Oh she's shy" or "Oh, she's trying to be friends with the students."  That is not the problem at all, and it makes me so mad when people tell me this :angry:.  Of course, I can't tell them what the real problem is because they will think I'm being over-dramatic.

What do you mean by they will think you're being over dramatic? Do you mean that if you responded to their assumptions with the real reason, they'll think you're being over dramatic? I can relate to wanting to explain myself because I don't like being misjudged.

Could you ask a teacher who seems nice and non-judgmental what are their guidelines in their classroom? Like for them what is considered too loud? etc. Would that be okay to do? I believe this is a learning process and people learn from others. I remember I had teachers who'd meet with other more experienced teachers and they'd get ideas from them. 

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Nesf

It's logical that the students are going to be a bit noisy while packing up to go home, one can expect that. Perhaps the other teacher hadn't finished his lesson yet, or is very strict. Does the school you work at have a bell? If so, it's probably best to keep them quiet until the bell goes, after that it's the offical end of the period and no one can really complain about the noise.

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Sanctuary

I think generally as Aspies we have difficulties with interpretations and prefer very clear rules and distinctions. I used to work as a teacher and the sort of issues you mention are ones I've encountered many times and I understand your frustration. Whether students are too loud depends so much on the context, e.g. the activity they're doing, start or end of a lesson or the school day. It's not easy to judge what level is right except to be guided by whether the noise level allows the best conditions for learning and doesn't impinge on other classes. The optimum noise level though isn't silence or even quiet except for certain tasks. As much as possible you can be guided by what you see and hear in other lessons and what students and teachers say but that again is only an approximate guide as expectations and preferences can differ so much.

I would ask your students and staff about whether they feel sound levels are OK and to let you know if they think they aren't. What isn't right is if no-one tells you or undermines you as the teacher who came into your room did. If she or he felt the sound was too loud this could have been tactfully mentioned to you afterwards. I hope you get some clearer guidelines and things get better for you.

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Eli

I agree with Sanctuary about the other teacher's comment. That kind of comment is most appropriate in private. Having said that, I tend to think that since it is your classroom, you are the one who decides what the rules are. And I'm also of the mindset that you can be a little selfish, here. Make the rules that make your life easiest. But what I will say, is that once you make those rules and define those terms, be completely uncompromising. If students think there is wiggle room, they'll have you tearing your hair out.

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PandaPrincess

@RiRi I've never heard of the 6 inch voices method, but that does sound like a good method to use, and it makes the guidelines clear for both me and the students.  Part of the problem though is that I'm a substitute teacher, so I'm with a different group of kids at different schools every day, and it seems like the way that every classroom is run is different because all of the teachers have different teaching styles, so when I try to do things my way, the kids are like "Mrs. so-and-so does it like this" and then I have to remind the kids that I am not "Mrs. so-and-so" so I might do things differently.  I guess at the beginning of class, when I introduce myself and tell the kids what they will be working on, then I should explain my expectations more so that they know the boundaries.  

@RiRi What I meant about them thinking that I'm over-dramatic is that it seems like every time I try to explain to someone that I find certain things difficult, they just completely dismiss what I'm trying to say because they don't find the same things difficult-to them it is easy, and they think I'm just being whiny or dramatic about it.  

@Nesf At some schools, there is not a bell at the end of the day, which makes things very confusing because I don't always know when to dismiss the students, especially when the teacher doesn't leave a schedule.  Sometimes I get called to work at literally the last minute, which sucks because it's a huge change in routine for me, and the teacher didn't have time to leave lessons and schedules for the substitute since it was a last minute thing for them to take off.

One thing I wanted to point out is that the teacher wasn't yelling at me, she was just yelling at the students for being too loud, but I know that she was probably thinking that I was a horrible teacher or something to that affect.  I just couldn't process all that was going on.

Also, after this happened, on Friday, I worked a job at another school, and it was gym class, and I think I did something really stupid.  The music teacher came in often because for some reason that day, music class was combined with gym class, so all of the kids from music were in gym, and I had like 30 kids or so in the gym at a time.  Anyway, the music teacher told me not to let kids go to the bathroom unless it's an emergency because they can't be trusted in there-why they can't be trusted, I honestly don't know.  Maybe they play around in the bathroom, and that's why they can't be trusted.  I don't know.  Anyway, a bunch of kids asked if they could go get a drink, and I said no, they would have to wait because I thought that since they're not allowed to go to the bathroom, then they can't get a drink either because they would have to go out into the hallway, and no one would be supervising them.  There was one kid who kept yelling at me because he needed a drink and he said that the teacher usually lets kids get a drink, but I wasn't sure whether to believe him or not because sometimes kids lie, and I've had several situations where kids have taken advantage.  Anyway, after I had a day or two to process all of this, I realized that I was pretty stupid for not letting the kids get a drink because I'm pretty sure that they got pretty dehydrated running around the gym a lot.  We were playing a game called Big Foot, which is kind of like musical chairs where you have to run around and stand on a dot when the music stops, and if you're not on a dot, you're out.  The classes were 45 minutes long, which is a pretty long time, so I should've let the kids get a drink.  I've been obsessing over this a lot because now I feel like I deprived humans of their rights, and I keep worrying that their health will suffer because of it now :(.  

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Sanctuary
9 hours ago, PandaPrincess said:

Also, after this happened, on Friday, I worked a job at another school, and it was gym class, and I think I did something really stupid.  The music teacher came in often because for some reason that day, music class was combined with gym class, so all of the kids from music were in gym, and I had like 30 kids or so in the gym at a time.  Anyway, the music teacher told me not to let kids go to the bathroom unless it's an emergency because they can't be trusted in there-why they can't be trusted, I honestly don't know.  Maybe they play around in the bathroom, and that's why they can't be trusted.  I don't know.  Anyway, a bunch of kids asked if they could go get a drink, and I said no, they would have to wait because I thought that since they're not allowed to go to the bathroom, then they can't get a drink either because they would have to go out into the hallway, and no one would be supervising them.  There was one kid who kept yelling at me because he needed a drink and he said that the teacher usually lets kids get a drink, but I wasn't sure whether to believe him or not because sometimes kids lie, and I've had several situations where kids have taken advantage.  Anyway, after I had a day or two to process all of this, I realized that I was pretty stupid for not letting the kids get a drink because I'm pretty sure that they got pretty dehydrated running around the gym a lot.  We were playing a game called Big Foot, which is kind of like musical chairs where you have to run around and stand on a dot when the music stops, and if you're not on a dot, you're out.  The classes were 45 minutes long, which is a pretty long time, so I should've let the kids get a drink.  I've been obsessing over this a lot because now I feel like I deprived humans of their rights, and I keep worrying that their health will suffer because of it now :(.  

I wouldn't worry about this PandaPrincess - I think you did the right thing at the time. If you are a new teacher in a school such as a substitute teacher it is best to precisely follow the instructions of other teachers unless it's an emergency such as a student who is very clearly ill. It is far better to be too strict in these cases than too lenient. Students can sometimes "test" a teacher by asking to go to the bathroom and agreeing to it unless it's plainly essential can be seen as a sign of the teacher being a "soft touch" and lead to them pushing other rules. If you're uncertain of the policy in a gym lesson you should ask other people who teach gym on what they do - or if they're not available some other senior teacher - but if you've been advised by another teacher not to let the students go out it is safest to follow that advice. You could even tell the students they can bring bottles of water to the lesson if you're worried they might get thirsty or tell them to drink enough beforehand but the safest policy is to check on what other gym teachers do. 

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PandaPrincess

@Sanctuary Sometimes I can't tell if a student needing to go to the bathroom is about to "burst" or not.   At one school, a little girl asked if she could go to the bathroom, and I told her to wait, and she looked pretty calm and wasn't doing "the pee dance", but about 10 minutes later, she started crying, and it turned out that she had peed her pants.  I felt horrible after that incident.  

I'm usually pretty lenient about letting kids go to the bathroom because when I was in school, I had anxiety issues, which was never picked up on, and my anxiety issues always cause frequent urination for me, and occasionally, it makes me have to poop really bad.  Anyway, I was always anxious all the time because I was afraid that teachers wouldn't let me go, and being anxious about this and obsessing over it made me have to pee even more.  It really sucked.  I don't see why letting kids go to the bathroom is such a bad thing, I mean, as long as only one kid at a time is allowed out and I'm not letting them out when I'm going over something important.  And if they are gone for too long, then I could give out consequences if it is clear that they were just messing around in the bathroom.  Holding your pee can be really detrimental to your health.  Honestly, if I ever have kids, then they will be home-schooled so that they won't have to deal with all of this bull-crap.  

But I do agree that being strict otherwise is the best way to go.  

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Sanctuary

I agree that it's not always easy to judge whether a student genuinely needs to go to the toilet and that younger children may need more allowance to go than older ones. If you're new to a school though as a teacher - whether as a substitute or a permanent staff member - it's really important to follow the school policies on issues like this even if you disagree with them. When you're more established you can often take a different line but when you're new a school (or any employer) will keep a close eye on anyone who doesn't follow their policies. Of course it's also true that sometimes what happens in practice in a school may be different to what "official" policies say. It may be that other teachers do let children go to the toilet in lessons and you could follow their example although it could still be the case that someone in authority may object to a new member of staff doing so. Overall it seems following what others do and abiding by any official guidance is the best way of keeping in employers' good books although it's frustrating when you feel things could be done differently.

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PandaPrincess
6 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

I agree that it's not always easy to judge whether a student genuinely needs to go to the toilet and that younger children may need more allowance to go than older ones. If you're new to a school though as a teacher - whether as a substitute or a permanent staff member - it's really important to follow the school policies on issues like this even if you disagree with them. When you're more established you can often take a different line but when you're new a school (or any employer) will keep a close eye on anyone who doesn't follow their policies. Of course it's also true that sometimes what happens in practice in a school may be different to what "official" policies say. It may be that other teachers do let children go to the toilet in lessons and you could follow their example although it could still be the case that someone in authority may object to a new member of staff doing so. Overall it seems following what others do and abiding by any official guidance is the best way of keeping in employers' good books although it's frustrating when you feel things could be done differently.

I know that what you said is true, but it just seems so unfair that teachers who have been there for a while get to break the rules, while new teachers can't :angry:.   That's ridiculous.  I need a job though so that I can eventually buy a new car, so unfortunately, I have to follow along with all of this bull-crap.  

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