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As a substitute teacher I am constantly adapting to the different rules and procedures of each school I am in.  Rules that seem to be pretty consistent at every school are “No chewing gum” and “No cell phones.”  When I was in school,  cell phones were just becoming the rage and if you didn’t have one you could still live.  We also tried to get away with chewing gum but had the sense to spit it out when we were caught.  In this day and age it’s almost a battle to get kids to follow these rules.  I have had a student caught three times…in one period.  The first time, she got up and must have pretended to throw the gum away because I saw her chomping away a few seconds later.  However, after the second time, I caught her as she proceeded to put a piece of gum in her mouth.  Stubborn much?  At least wait till you are in another class.

I find cell phones much more irksome.  They are a distraction.  Some people argue they can be used as a resource in the classroom however, many schools do not have the technology implemented to accommodate programs that would aid in this.  I always give students once chance to put it away.  If I see it out again I take the phone till the end of class and if they get belligerent I write them up.   I had one girl get angry when her phone went off and I told her to turn the sound off and put it away.  She snapped back, “My mother has to keep in touch with me!”  That is what the office is for and I would hope parents understand you are in class.  Besides, you can still be notified of a call without the sound.

Besides the texting,  phones now have music players and internet connections.  I have had students start playing music on their phone without headphones and think nothing of the disturbance that it is causing.  They will also watch videos in a giant group that may be inappropriate for the school setting because of the lack of filters.

All of these struggles are bothersome but if you have the support of the administration and teachers behind you it can be easier to combat.  I find my biggest frustration comes when the teachers are ignoring the rules.  It is hard to enforce rules when I have teachers sitting and checking their phone in class or chomping away at gum.  How many time have I told a student to put the phone away and they say the teacher allows them to text.  Yes this could be a ploy to get away with it but sadly in a majority of the cases it is true.  How can a sub, who is already looked down on,  have a chance of enforcing these rules if the teachers are not setting a good example?  Isn’t that one of the key facets to teaching?

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