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The Defiant Child "He's on the Roof!"

Updated on December 16, 2017
Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle worked for 20 years in elementary schools as a sub teacher, eventually presenting teacher training workshops in Orange County, CA.

"Please report any accidents or unusual occurrences to the school office."

This is an item on a checklist often given to a substitute teacher upon arrival at the assignment.

When I read it, it made think of some of the unusual experiences I had experienced in the past.

I remembered the nine-year-old flasher and the kid who liked to throw dirt into the air and inhale it. I recalled the child who desperately begged me to "adopt and hide" her, and the boy who "didn't notice" an angry-looking black and blue swelling that almost closed one eye. All of these experiences had been reported to the teacher and the office staff at each particular school.

In fact, my experiences varied so much, that it seemed "unusual" to NOT have an "unusual occurrence". Since I worked in a lot of special ed. classes there were many unique circumstances. All of them had been duly reported.

He was energy, athleticism and mischief all in one. The challenging child.
He was energy, athleticism and mischief all in one. The challenging child. | Source

I particularly remembered the "roof climber".

Easily leaping upon a porch handrail, this athletic sixth-grader grasped a drainpipe and the edge of the roof as he quickly hauled himself up to the top of the building. For him it was merely an easy way to retrieve an errant soccer ball.

Even though the feat was accomplished with aplomb, (this kid could have been a James Bond stuntman with no additional training). I had to report the incident to protect others from trying to imitate the action. His peers were properly awed and impressed. Secretly, so was I though I felt a little surge of fear and helplessness.

In a private conference with the "superkid" I told him that though I personally admired his athleticism, his action was setting a bad example for others who might hurt themselves by trying to do something similar.

He accepted my tacit admiration and my official responsibility to report his actions to the office.

At the end of the day I reluctantly told the school secretary that I needed to report an "unusual incident". Substitute teachers, me included, are not inclined to draw attention to happenings that indicate we are not in total control of everything.

We hope to keep the kids from climbing the walls, but when one actually summits the roof . . . well, it seems a little embarrassing.

The secretary immediately asked me if it was "J _____" (mentioning the culprit's name). She had guessed right ! Imagine!

And she seemed not the least bit surprised. This was somewhat reassuring, as it proved that the incident may NOT have been all that unusual.

She waved adieu with a " that's the way it is" kind of half-smile. Even though this particular school staff might have not been surprised at this particular incident, sub teachers always need to inform the returning teacher, or an administrator.

Such observations can be important even though we we may not be able to judge or analyze any particular behavior or the reason for it. We do not know the whole situation or context. It might be part of a bigger picture, and we could be faulted for not reporting something which could be a symptom of potential problems.

I once heard a substitute complaining that if she reported problems it would reflect on her ability to control the class. Sometimes there is an element of truth in this, and we have to be willing to look at things we might have done differently.

However, we shouldn't get too defensive. The district sub caller did not request you for Divine Intervention, you were called as a sub teacher.

If, at times, you are unable to work a miracle we can call it a "learning experience" day. It's always important to ask yourself if was something you could have done to keep the "unusual" from happening.

Sometimes your best efforts fit into to that category of those best laid plans of mice and men.

I'll bet he could Parkour like this:


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    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country

      I've now seen several Parkour videos. Very entertaining, but I think they should be rated in the "not for kids" category. :) It is hard enough to keep them subdued on the ground.

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      You're so welcome, Rochelle. That's a great idea. =)

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

      I had to look up Parkour-- and yes, I'm sure he might be quite good at it. I'm adding a Parkour video to this! Thanks, Frieda.

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      I think J_______ should try out Parkour. Very entertaining hub. Funny what is considered "unusual behavior".

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

      Everyone has to find what works best for them. I do have to restrain myself from seeming like I am having too much fun. The balance point has to be maintained.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA


      I know offering fun activities is a good incentive, but I am really too much of a task master when it comes to subbing. I like to keep the kids under control because when I found I did fun activities in the past one or two would start to get really excited, and then I lost the crowd after that. I usually let everyone go to recess though and I never keep anyone in, even though some teacher suggest we do this.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

      Yes, you are right. Keeping them busy is good. Also offering a fun activity as an incentive for finishing their regular assignments, can work well.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

      As a substitute teacher I have learned that kids can be a bit more challenging than they are for their teachers, but I never had any climb the roofs. Good advice for those coming into the field of subbing. I always feel it is better to report everything rather than leave anything to chance. More than often the notes I have left were not all that different than other subs. One way I have found to manage the class is to always have them finish all the assignments and bring extras. This may make me a task master, but I have found having them constantly engaged has helped to keep them from acting out, or finding ways to act out.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

      I guess that was good timing for me-- I just happened to be 'tuning up' a few old hubs and noticed that my last comment had about five typos, so I changed it.

      This incident happened a long time ago, but I remember it well. I think it was the feeling of having my heart jump into my throat and knowing there was nothing I could really do.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Rochelle, just by happenstance I saw you had commented on this hub on Hubtivity. Intrigued by the title and feeling sure that if you were commenting it must be worthwhile, I followed you over here!

      What a delightful tale -- I think you handled the roof climber brilliantly! I hope that school called upon your subbing skills often.

      And thanks for disavowing me of any notion I may have entertained -- even for a nanosecond -- that I would ever, ever want to teach. Eating dirt? No thank you!!!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

      Much appreciated, as always. This one is a favorite of mine, since I learned so much from this 'test'. I really don't know how the regular teacher got through this year, but she was really a wonderful educator, so I'm sure she felt the same about the year as I did about the one day.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      To be honest, I feel an obligation to comment on the hubs I visit if I like them. I know who it feels to enjoy a pat on the back so I like to give them out.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      A trip to the store for a pack of gum?-- that brings up some possibilities, even though I live in the woods and rarely chew gum.

      I sincereley appreciate your over-generous praise.

      Substitute teaching was FAR from boring. Imagine yourself placed in a situation where your are in CHARGE... and know about 10% of what your "underlings " know as far as normal procedure.  It was a little crazy at times,  often challenging, but usually quite a lot of fun and rewarding in unexpected ways.


    • Em Writes profile image

      Em Writes 9 years ago from Upstate NY

      I love your style, Rochelle. If someone told me they could write an engaging hub about substitute teaching, I'm not sure I would believe them. I think you could make a trip to the corner store for a pack of gum interesting.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Can't tell you how much I appreciate your comments. I see you comment on many, many others too. You must be on a mission here. It is appreciated all ove the place

      Seems like we have several things in common.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Kids do the funniest things and usually under your watch. LOL! Another good piece.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 10 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you funne . You too, Chef-- you need to turn some of those into hubs. My classroom experiences have been priceless. Truly, I have learned more than I ever taught.

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 10 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      As a soon-to-be- former teacher and former sub, I remember a lot of experiences that now make me laugh, although at the time I cringed! I also remember a lot of great moments, like the time I got to take my small class outside to read, and we ended up sharing ideas about the future.


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