I’ve always been torn as to whether or not to write about my adventures in substitute teaching on NaPP since it’s not really political and most non-political stuff goes on Hit Coffee but it is sociological. I had a two-fer assignment today, with the first period a 3rd grade class and the second period a 5th grade. The former was probably the best performance I have turned in to date. The latter was one of the most challenging classes I have filled in for. I’d actually filled in for the class before. It was a bad experience, but I thought I had screwed up. Nope.
Anyhow, the observation of the day is that there are really three kinds of male troublemakers in school (maybe in life).
The Bad Egg Group
The first are Bad Eggs. There’s usually one or two of these in every class. Sometimes it seems to be a manifestation of other problems they’re having. The overlap between Bad Eggs and special instruction is not insignificant. Sometimes, though, they’re just Bad Eggs. You know that the future holds nothing good in store for them (and, likely, people around them).
The Impulse Group
The second group is perhaps the most perplexing. It’s also the smallest group. It’s the kid who is basically a Really Good Kid, save for some serious impulse control problems. They want to be quiet. They want to be good. They try harder than any other student in the classroom to help you. But they’re also among the biggest troublemakers. They just can’t help themselves. I had to report to the teacher that the single-most helpful kid in the room was one of a handful on the Worst List. He was also the first kid I have yelled at since beginning my substitute teaching tenure. Bad Eggs may be less pleasant to deal with insofar as the Impulse Kids, who are at least good or great half or a majority of the time, but they’re easier to deal with.
The Osmosis Group.
The third group are those that absorb the mood of the class. You get the sense that in a good environment or on a good day, they’re fine. But they become a part of any problem that exists. These are actually the most problematic only because they are the most numerous. You try to get them to behave and they simply point the finger at someone who is behaving worse (typically an Egg or an Impulse). These are also the Give Them An Inch kids. You give them an inch, which they may or not be able to handle, but then Bad Egg and Impulse will take a mile and these kids will be right behind them.
It’s only the Bad Eggs that you feel good about writing up. One of the interesting aspects is that when I make my list at the end of the day, even in a really bad class like this one (this class apparently drove two different substitute teachers into retirement over the course of the year), there are only two or three Bad Eggs at most. Then you throw in a couple Impulse Kids and the Osmosis Brigade comes out of the woodwork and at that point, there is so much cover for noise that you can’t single anybody out because almost everyone else is talking and goofing around.