Next week is ISAT week around these parts (our state standardized test, for those that don't know), which means most teachers are spending this week preparing their kids with testing strategies and last minute content. For the kids, it usually means a long, boring week... before another long, boring week of testing.
I spent the past two days subbing for an 8th grade math teacher whose plans included a 70-question practice ISAT test. As you can imagine, this is not exactly a fun activity for your average 14 year-old, but I was tasked with keeping this (already chatty) classroom motivated to finish their packets.
Everything was fine until my ninth period class. Granted, today is their Friday (institute day tomorrow means no school for them), and it's always harder to keep them working during the last period of the day... But I was about to pull out my own hair because I could not get them to stop talking while I was trying to work with a small group in the front of the room. Every time I looked away, someone would say or do something to get the rest of the class off-task. It was making it extremely hard for me to help the students at my table because we were constantly interrupted by my need to address the noise in the room.
Sensing my frustration, one of the boys finally yelled, "Guys... we've had a lot of really bad subs, and Miss L is one of the good ones. I don't know about you, but I want her to want to come back here, so we should really listen to her."
Anyone who works with middle school students can understand why I was really impressed with his comment. It's not often that you see kids in this age group stand up against their peers. And it was so thoughtful of him to consider the fact that I was there by choice... because I enjoy working with that group.
The class erupted in applause, followed by several apologies and comments of concern. They were genuinely worried that I wouldn't want to be their substitute anymore and that they had disappointed me.
I tell ya... building a positive rapport with students goes a long way!!!