I'm subbing all week for a first-grade class that is quite small (17 kids), but has three challenging boys. Their regular teacher is super organized and left truly exquisite lesson plans for me -- she worked very hard to prepare for her absence, and I am very grateful for that.
That said, she has me working harder than I have ever had to, as a substitute teacher, before. (I've worked plenty hard in several previous work environments.) I have to keep track of homework and assignments and hand out all sorts of stuff, including behavior incentives like points and stickers. It's a tremendous amount to keep track of, especially on top of managing the kids who basically resist being managed.
Surprisingly, I'm not having too much trouble with those three boys. At heart they're all quite sweet, they just don't deal with the world the way everyone else does, and I have a lot of experience with boys like that from my own DS1. Not that he ever was troublesome in school on a regular basis (just the occasional meltdown), but still -- I cut my parenting teeth dealing with a very stubborn, very smart little boy, so these boys are honestly nothing new to me. I think if I had longer to work with them, I could help them -- their regular teacher is the super-strict, yells-alot kind (apparently, I've never witnessed her in class) and with these guys, I can tell that is totally the wrong approach -- a bad fit. But sometimes you get a bad fit between teachers and students, and you just need to tough it out.
I only have one more day with this class, and I will miss all of them, really -- except one, and this one child taught me that I should never be a full-time teacher. I can't stand this kid. There are certain personality types that set my teeth on edge, and the one that constantly demands to be the center of attention, and manipulates others to make sure that is always so, is pretty close to the top of my list. Another thing that gets me is the blank stare in lieu of an answer to a serious question -- a tactic which involves ignoring inconvenient facts and feigning either ignorance or inattention when I know neither is applicable. Aaauuugghhh!
You know it's bound to happen that you get a kid that you find insufferable in your class. And I'm sure I could learn to deal with that, with practice. But I don't want to! And since I'm just a sub, I can grit my teeth and make it through the day, or week, or however long, knowing that this detestable person is not my ultimate responsibility.