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KatieViolet KatieViolet is online now
 
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Subbing for the first time
Old 12-16-2017, 12:30 PM
 
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I am looking into subbing for the first time, having taught in the classroom for ten years and ten stopping to be a stay at home Mom. Youngest is in preschool, so I’m looking at beginning to sub now.

Would love some insight and advice about how to “feel out” a school and find things out. I know I’ll mostly be at one school, as they always need subs, so I’m not worried about finding jobs so much as the ins and outs of subbing as opposed to having my own classroom. I’m not familiar with this school at all.

For example:
-bathroom breaks? This school the teachers so recess/lunch duty too, so when Can I go the the bathroom?
-asking questions—will the surrounding teachers b helpful with things like finding rooms and schedules and stuff?
-tricks of the trade: discipline, etc. do you have any great activities you pull out of your bag in case you have extra time or need to fill a few mins?

Any and all first time sub advice would be greatly appreciated!!


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welcome to an interesting job
Old 12-16-2017, 08:33 PM
 
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I've always agreed with the HR head who said the two hardest jobs in schools were bus drivers and substitutes. It can also have its rewards, I hasten to add.

Bathroom breaks: likely you won't be doing all recesses and lunch as well. Although, in some places they like to tell the sub that they need to cover for Mrs. X who then gets a free recess at your expense. Doesn't happen often. Teachers usually mark when they do duties in their plan outlines for the day.
If worst comes to worst, take the class to the bathrooms and you use the girls' with the first of the girls. You don't always need to use the staff restroom--take your bathroom breaks where and whenever you can.

Asking Questions: answers depend on the attitude of the surrounding teachers, in my experience, most are helpful and will lend a hand to find the on-switch for the computers, information about where things are, etc. It's good to get there 30-40 minutes before the bell to do the plan readings and searching for things referenced. It also can take a surprising amount of time to check in with the office, get a key, find the room, etc.
Schedules are often part of the lesson plans laid out for an expected sub. The person who became sick or had sick kids unexpectedly may be calling in plans or emailing them to a staff member to deliver. It's rare not to have plans, but it can happen. Then you find out information from yesterday's plan and the students.

Tricks of the trade: As an old timer here, you will find lots of threads about things to bring, activities to do, and discipline through the search function.

As to feeling out a school, you'll get the vibe after the first day at most places.Do know that regular teachers can be a bit standoffish at some schools and very welcoming at others. Sometimes you need to "earn your way in" to lunchroom conversations, etc. by being there.

You may find out some things about why the school you are thinking will use you a lot has a need for many and frequent subs. It MAY be good for getting the work, but not so good for working there. Then again, they may just have a lot of meetings.
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MaineSub MaineSub is offline
 
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Since you have experience...
Old 12-17-2017, 05:34 AM
 
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One way to get a feel for the school environment is to volunteer a bit--even if it's only to help out with a specific event. Another possibility is to attend school events... sports, concerts, etc. will often provide some indication of school spirit and atmosphere.

Since you've taught, you probably know most of the "tricks of the trade." You're wise to consider the differences between being a "regular" teacher and a "substitute" teacher. They are not to be underestimated.

One of our better teachers is considering retirement... I asked her about subbing and she reminded me of a conversation we had a few years ago when (according to her) "You told me I would have trouble being a sub." (She and I have an awesome relationship... often share concerns about the kids, etc. and have afterschool talks about teaching.)

This teacher (like many) runs a very tight ship--we'll call her #1. She is a joy to sub for--her lesson plans are thorough and well thought out... the day is highly structured, the kids while not perfect angels are used to structure, know the expectations and respond well to redirection. It's not hard to find things.

One of her neighbor teachers (#2) has a very different style. He's a good teacher and a lot of learning takes place in his noisy room where things appear to be in constant turmoil and kids appear to be "bouncing off the walls." I make sure I have my sub bag when I'm in his room because I know I'll never find what I need. Teacher #1 admires him and considers him a great teacher but admits she "hates going into his room."

Well, if she subs, she's going to have to... and the question she has to ask herself is whether or not she will feel effective working in a room that's not hers. She can't do a "makeover" in one day of subbing.

I think flexibility and adaptability are keywords for a sub. While a regular teacher focuses on structure and discipline, we work to fit in and get a job done with what we find. Both #1 and #2 seem to enjoy having me sub. #1 likes the fact we stay on track. #2 is happy if nothing gets broken and no one gets hurt. (That's not exactly fair to him because he truly does want the kids to learn and he appreciates strong teaching.)

I've been on the opposite side of the teaching versus subbing question--several teachers and a principal have suggested I consider full-time teaching. (I'm actually retired.) It sounds tempting, but I suspect being in the same classroom every day with a lot of different responsibilities and expectations (lesson plans, IEP, meetings, parent issues, creating bulletin boards) would not be my cup of tea. For me, subbing is almost all about teaching. Teaching is often about a lot of other things.

And that's my "trick" as a sub. I think subs get too worried about discipline, classroom management and trying to control things. I am OCD about teaching and learning... I have found that a laser-focus on learning diminishes classroom management issues as long as you can engage the kids in the process. I have, for example, never sent a kid to the office. I remind them they are at school to learn and I am at school to teach. A kid who pushes gets told, "I can't teach you if you're sitting in the office--and you aren't going to learn much there." I run a fast-paced classroom with a high sense of urgency. But I'm not a taskmaster-- my second classroom rule is "we will enjoy learning." We do get brain breaks, etc. and the kids seem to like having me as a sub.

Be friendly, be fair. Show no fear. I cracked up inside recently while subbing. One of the kids reminded, "I know, Mr. B. You're going to be the teacher and I'm going to be the student." (That's a line I occasionally use when a kid initiates a power struggle with me.)
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