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Twin Cities Substitute Forum: The Difficult to Reach Student

We had an incredible Substitute Forum on November 13th in the Twin Cities, focused on the “difficult to reach” student.  You know the one; the student who doesn’t want to participate, who is always seeking attention, who frequently causes disruptions.   With a short list of suggested questions, discussion was well underway.  A lot of questions were asked, situations given and advice was offered.  I’ve put together some of the helpful tips that were suggested.


First, discussing strategies that could prevent a student from misbehaving, many suggested with “Don’t respond”.  It...

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C.M. Corner: The Power of Your Attitude

One of the most effective, yet least considered aspects of classroom management is control over our own attitude.  There are a variety of things that happen during the course of the school day, for better or for worse.  Most people have heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words,” but few consider the implications of their own actions.  We need to not only respond appropriately, but model the same behavior we desire from our students.  If we are unable to adjust or handle those various changes, how are we to expect our students to do the same? 


One of the things I...

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C.M. Corner: By Any Other Name

Walking into a new classroom, 30 new people to interact with, a lesson plan to learn and teach and a set of new rules to adapt to and uphold.  This is part of the challenge of working as a substitute.  You become responsible for not only keeping tabs on your students, but for managing their behavior.  This can become quite the challenge.  This week, we are taking a look at an easy way to build relationship with your students, but also to address behavioral concerns, by using their name.  Now, is this always easy to do, no.  And we are not suggesting that you wave your magic wand and...

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C.M. Corner: Proactive Questions

               One of the biggest struggles going into new classrooms and schools every day is the changing expectations.  Do you walk your students to various locations or does another staff member do that?  Who do I call if I have student behavior issues?  What do they want me to do about cell phones?  While most of classroom management in responsive in nature, where we are reacting to student behavior, we can be proactive in setting expectations or planning for coming events. 

One of the biggest recommendations I often give, and a lot of times one of the easiest things to do, is...

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C.M. Corner: Physical Contact and Behavior

As we work with new students, we strive to build positive relationships as quickly as possible.  This happens typically through a number of different ways: introducing yourself, positive reinforcement, class activities, games, etc.  One of the more common ways that we communicate care is through what we see as positive physical contact through a comforting hand on the shoulder or light touch on the arm to gain attention.  But what if what we intend isn’t what is understood?  In a 2 part post on the C.M. Corner last year, “How We Communicate”, we discussed how communication is not only...

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C.M. Corner: The First Few Minutes

With the school year well under way, students are now diving into the routine of class schedules, after-school activities and homework.  As we are in the beginning of the school year, this week we will take a look at the beginning of the day/class.  The first 5-10 minutes with a new group of students is a crucial time for any substitute.  You have to not only set the tone and expectations for the day, but establish yourself as a friendly, caring authority in the classroom.  While, each person will have a different approach, we’ve listed some ideas to consider.


Regardless of...

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C.M. Corner: Summer Break!

Congratulations!  You’ve made it!  Whether your districts are finishing up in the next 2 weeks or have already finished, you have made it through the 17-18 school year.  Take a deep breath and enjoy the much needed and deserved break.  In our final C.M. Corner for the year, we’ll take a look at how we can improve our classroom management through reflecting  and looking forward.


Normally, the end of December is reserved for reflection and goal setting, but this is a perfect time to do so for anybody in education.  Take some time to reflect on this past year and self-evaluate...

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C.M. Corner – Stress

We are down to the final weeks of the school year, the grass is turning green, flowers are blooming and the birds are singing.  However, as the school year ends, stress seems to increase.  Often times this stress amplifies or even creates some of the classroom management issues that we face in our positions, whether the stress is coming out in our attitudes or causing us to be more sensitive to various situations.  This week, with the help of our Substitute Services Team, we are going to take a look at some ways to help us reduce stress in our own lives to help positively influence our...

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C.M. Corner: Respect – The Two Way Street

There are a million different factors that play into a class’s behavior.  One of the biggest factors that comes into play is respect.  We often look at a self-centric view of respect when we are dealing with difficult students and situations; they’re behavior is disrespectful to me.  Respect is defined as “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person” or “to show regard or consideration for” by dictionary.com.  I like to think of it in terms of value.  Because we are the staff member in the room, we expect students to value our authority and experience.  Students, however,...

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Sub Forum: Icebreakers, Motivators, Fillers and Breaks

In our last Substitute Forum for the year, we focused on motivators, icebreakers, filler activities and other things that we could do to engage students in the lesson.  As a substitute teacher or paraprofessional, we don’t always have the luxury of using our previous relationship with the students to communicate expectations, establish a well developed process or appeal to each student’s genuine interest.  We have to do quite a bit on our end to find what works and what doesn’t. 


Multiple people commented on the need to connect with the students, whether giving a 30 second...

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