Dear Barbara ...
I've created the Dear Barbara column as a way for subs to get answers to questions about any subbing topic or suggestions that may help you solve a specific problem in substitute teaching.

If you'd like to submit a question, please click here and be sure to include your name and home town. Answers to the best questions will be published here.

When Should I Ask for Help?

Dear Barbara,

What should I do if I simply cannot handle a student? I hate to admit to being weak, but there are times when one angry student can ruin the day. Yesterday a ninth grade girl was taunting another young lady, hurting her feelings in a very cruel manner. When I tried to stop her, she became angry and raised her arm to me.

I backed away at that point, because I had a sense that I might be in danger. Fortunately, with time, the uncomfortable situation diffused. No one was hurt. However, I was left with an uneasy feeling. What if this young lady really blew up and hurt me or another student?

Please advise,
Sue Anne in Stamford, CT

Dear Sue Anne,

When you sense danger, you need to ask for help. You tried your best to remedy the problem on your own, now take it one step further.

Each school has its' own methods for seeking help. Be sure to find out where the call button is located before the day begins. Most schools have a PA system or walkie-talkies. Call the office and tell them that you need assistance immediately.

If for some reason help does not arrive in time, you can ask a student to go to the teacher next door or the office for assistance. The angry child should be removed from your class immediately.

You will not be viewed as weak. You will have shown have good, professional judgment. Your concern for the well being of the students is your number one priority.


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