Exhausted after a month in the shoes of a substitute at the primary and secondary
Saturday, 27-jan-2018 01:00
Saturday, 27-jan-2018 01:00
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Students in crisis, overcrowded classrooms, insults, exhaustion, and sometimes even threats : the teachers and substitute teachers in Quebec have a hard life. Nearly 25 % of new teachers leave the profession after less than five years old*, and others fall into burn-out. To bear witness to their reality from the inside, the reporter Marie-Christine Noël is made to hire incognito as a substitute for a month. Here is his story :
Photo Marie-Christine Noël
Marie-Christine Noël, spent a month as a supply teacher in nine schools in the Laurentians.
November. First snow falls on Quebec. The phone rings at 7: 30 p.m. for a first replacement physical education in a school north of Montreal.
The course will start with a delay, up to my arrival to look forward to.
In the gym, a dozen 6th grade students excited squabbling with balls of basketball. In short, the storm seems to be invited inside the walls of the school.
This first day will set the tone for the rest of my experience.
Without a degree in education but holding a bachelor degree, I do replacements in seven primary schools and two secondary at the Commission scolaire de la Rivière-du-Nord (CSRDN), in the Laurentians.
My goal : to lift the veil on the difficult working conditions of the teachers that I have described, but especially those who are of the occasional, often a pre-requisite to obtain a regular position.
It is a shortage of teachers forcing school boards to recruit staff with no training like me.
According to Nadyne Brochu, director of communications of the CSRDN, ” the two major issues in the school environment are the recruitment and retention [staff] “.
To be hired as a substitute, it must, however, hold a bachelor’s degree and have no criminal record. It was my case. My inscription on the list of alternates is made according to the rules of art, without changing the name and following the same approach that all aspiring teachers.
Without a degree in education but holding a bachelor degree, a representative of the Journal has made replacements in seven primary schools and two secondary at the Commission scolaire de la Rivière-du-Nord (CSRDN), in the Laurentians.
The objective was to lift the veil on the difficult working conditions of teachers, but especially those who are of the occasional, often a pre-requisite to obtain a regular position.
Shortage of teachers
It is a shortage of teachers forcing school boards to recruit staff without training.
According to Nadyne Brochu, director of communications of the CSRDN, “the two major issues in the school environment are the recruitment and retention (of staff)”.
To be hired as a substitute, it must, however, hold a bachelor’s degree and have no criminal record. Our inclusion on the substitute list is made according to the rules of art, without changing the name and following the same approach that all aspiring teachers.
♦ Marie-Christine Noël is see video to the website, Tabloid and to our Office of investigation.
♦ It presents the highlights of four weeks contingency.
Threats of a little girl
The first replacements are désarmants. He must know how to decode the students from the first minutes of the course while concealing his obvious lack of experience.
But the students see it clearly and take the opportunity to pay to have a good time in spite of the alternates.
In less than half an hour, a student short-tempered and turbulent, which takes it to the other children, pushes me to the end. I don’t have the choice to remove him from the class for a few minutes. He returned calm and smiling. This is a first success.
The days follow, but do not look the same. In a class of 5th year, children compete for pencils, stands up for no reason, run between the offices and a chorus that resonates in a loop in any class : “I do not understand and it’s not tempt me, madam (sic) “.
And then, a little girl of 10 years old I landed the coup de grace. She boasts of having managed to “get outside of a teacher” who didn’t help her enough. “I can make the same deal with you”, boasts the pupil with pride. Impossible to know if the story is true. The words of children of course, but that give cold in the back.
Weapon of fortune
The second week begins with a class of grade 6 in co-teaching, which means that two groups and two teachers are in the same room. The students are friendly, switched on and working. A day of respite before the worst replacement in my short career.
Two classes of plastic arts in secondary 3 turns nightmare : insolence, insults of all kinds, non-observance of the rules, refusal to obey orders. As soon as I have the back turned, a student makes a “peak” with a utility knife and a tool of wood to work on clay. The sharp object could hurt someone. “Touch it madam”, she says to me, pointing repeatedly with his weapon of fortune (see below).
LE JOURNAL DE MONTRÉAL/QMI AGENCY
In front of my air panic-stricken, she continued her gesture, laughing : “Well, see, I will make you not evil, I do not you will hurt not”. I managed to remove the hands, stunned.
The period is painful, the room is a mess and the students are disorganized. Too busy to ‘police’, four students are taking advantage of my inattention to leave the class before the end of the course. I try to find help, but there is no monitoring in the corridors.
I am left to myself, which will not be the first time. According to the staff and students, I was the fourth successor from the beginning of the year.
Teaching children with autism
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The fatigue is felt. When the phone rings every morning between 6am and 9.30 am, the urge to ignore it is more and more strong. I have a thought of solidarity for those who work in these conditions for several years before getting a teaching position.
I sharpen my reflexes and my patience with a class of 1st cycle. A day to run in all directions : to require the silence, constantly repeating “sit in his place”, to stimulate the three students with an attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity, while responding to the questions of the students. Despite all that, I’m attached to these kids. I feel useful and proud when they understand the material well.
In another class, another challenge. And not the least : five children with a disorder on the autism spectrum. My lack of experience shines more than ever. I am upset, I don’t know how to manage it all.
“If you’re too close to their bubble, they will tell you, don’t worry”, I encouraged the teacher, who happily accompanies me. At the same time, a student, Victor (fictitious name) asked me to get away while he cut with scissors the circular of the week.
A movie to fill out the day
Photo Marie-Christine Noël
This room was completely trashed after a course of plastic arts. Despite repeated requests, the students have refused to pick up trash that littered the ground.
The experience ends, to my great relief. Fortunately, the last week is rather quiet, and as the holidays approach. In the local of teachers, several telling me to “put on a Christmas movie”. The exams are ended and some projects, too. For a rare time, the students do not object to my guidelines.
A month of stress, patience, management and resourcefulness. The conclusion is clear : the substitute as the teacher spends most of his time on discipline rather than teaching. In each class, three or four students disruptive, or with special needs chamboulent classes at the expense of other students who do not understand the material. These last would require a better support, but “we still lack of time”, I have repeated teachers.
If I had chosen this profession, I’d certainly part of that 25% of new teachers leaving the profession during their first five years of practice.
Heard at school
“I’ll kill you”
These are the words shouted by a student to another in the middle class. A fight broke out between the two students, despite the many interventions. Kicks, insults and name-calling.
“Do you take attendance?”
A question often asked by high school students. It is a technique to be able to leave before the end of the course without being seen and scolded by management.
“We don’t throw the ball in the face of the other”
Phrase often repeated in replacements in physical education. We must always remain vigilant in a gym. A balloon is happen even to the teacher.
IF ADVENTURE INTERESTS YOU… HERE is THE PROCEDURE For REGISTRATION IN CONTINGENCY
- Primary: hold a bachelor’s degree or have completed 30 credits at the university level.
- Secondary: hold a bachelor’s degree or a diploma of collegial studies.
- Complete a declaration related to criminal history.
- Provide proof of canadian citizenship, transcripts and diplomas.
- Pass an interview.
The procedure may vary from one school board to another
Typical DAY Of A SUBSTITUTE
- Be made available for the replacement on the web site of the school board.
- Between 6am and 9: 30am, the dispatcher phone to substitutes, according to the needs.
- Hours may vary, ranging from a full day to only a few periods.
* Study of the interuniversity research Centre on training and the teaching profession, Thierry Karsenti, 2015