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Please look at this sentence:

A student rebellion that afternoon in Room 13 resulted in the new substitute teacher racing out of the building in tears.

My questions are:

  1. What is a 'student rebellion'? A student who dislikes his teacher and does something against the teacher in class, or an armed person who wants to shoot others?
  2. I know 'substitute' is a verb, can it be an adjective?
  3. What is the meaning of 'racing out of...'?
  4. Could you express this sentence in an easily understandable way?
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A student rebellion that afternoon in Room 13 resulted in the new substitute teacher racing out of the building in tears.

1. What is a 'student rebellion'?

A student rebellion is when students decide not to recognise the authority of the teacher. They might be throwing bits of paper or shouting. They might be confronting the teacher or they might be ignoring the teacher completely. The important idea is that they do not recognise the authority of the teacher. They are behaving badly to show that they do not recognise the teacher's authority. Students often become attached to their normal teacher. When they get a new one they often don't like them, and don't think that they have any real authority.

2. I know 'substitute' is a verb, can it be an adjective?

Substitute can be a verb or a noun. We often use a noun to modify another noun. This is what is happening in the phrase substitute teacher. Here are some more examples:

  • phone box, credit card, policeman, bus conductor

[It is not absolutely 100% clear whether substitute is a noun or adjective. Some dictionaries list it as an adjective. However, it doesn't behave like a normal adjective. We can't use it in comparative constructions for example:

  • *This paper is less substitute. (wrong)]

3. What is the meaning of 'racing out of...'?

To race often means to go very fast. When people race cars or horses, and when people race each other, they move as fast as they can. We often use the word race in a figurative way. It just means go very fast!

4. Could you express this sentence in an easily understandable way?

The class behaved badly with the new teacher and s/he ran out of the school, crying.

Hope this is helpful!

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In the United States, a "substitute teacher" is a person who fills in for the teacher who regularly teaches a class. There are three kinds of "substitute teacher":

  • Another teacher at the school, who teaches a one-period class instead of having a "prep period" between their other classes.
  • A trained teacher who is hired on a day-to-day basis to cover the classes of a teacher who is "out sick".
  • A trained teacher who is working until the end of the school year to cover the classes of a teacher who is on "maternity leave".

The first two kinds of "substitute teacher" usually just hope to maintain an orderly classroom, and let any students who want to learn do so. (They usually do not have lesson plans in mind for that class, for that day.) The first kind of "substitute teacher" will probably be respected by the students, because the students know that the teacher is part of the school community. The second kind of "substitute teacher" often has trouble controlling the classroom, because the students do not expect to have to interact with the teacher in the future. The third kind of "substitute teacher" is responsible for lesson plans and student discipline, and is likely to have as much success as any other teacher with a similar amount of (in)experience.

On "student rebellions": You will have to use your imagination for what a bunch of misbehaving students are likely to do, when they know that their substitute teacher has no way to force them to behave. It might involve "back-talk", or "cheating", or gossipping, or yelling, or throwing things. Armed revolution is unnecessary when it is clear that "consent of the governed" does not exist, and the "wanna-be" authority figure has no means of enforcing her dictates.

By "racing out of", the author probably meant "ran out of".

Another version of the story:

The new substitute teacher had unrealistic expectations. She assumed that the kids would stay in their seats, listen attentively, do what they were told, and learn. Instead, the kids showed no respect for her at all. They said and did mean things. She did not know how to respond, let alone regain control of the classroom. Instead, she fled the building, sobbing as she ran.

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  • 2
    That's a lot of paraphrasing. I might have proposed: "That afternoon, the students in Room 13 became insubordinate and rebelled against their temporary replacement teacher to the point that the teacher ran, crying, at top speed, out of the building." – Jim Dec 21 '14 at 5:12

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