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Simple Simon Simple Simon is offline
 
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Simple Simon
 
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Substitute Software
Old 12-13-2009, 06:24 PM
 
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Hi folks

I have recently graduated from a college of education in New Zealand and am looking to get a bit of experience through relief teaching (substituting) early next year rather than look for a permanent position straight away. With this in mind, I intend to spend much of the rest of our summer holidays (schools go back at the beginning of Feb) getting myself as prepared and organised as possible for that kind of work.

One of the things I want to organise is a comprehensive record-keeping and reporting system that I can use to keep track of the details of all my placements. Ideally I would like this to run on my laptop, so that it's quick and simple to keep up to date and to generate reports (for example, a form report I can print off and leave for the classroom teacher). I would want to keep records of such things as individual students' issues and behaviour (ideally with the facility to attach photos to help with name recall), teacher contact details, activities that I have used in particular classes, other contacts within the schools, particular important school rules or policies, possibly even lists and locations of resources with the schools and classrooms. I have been thinking about designing a system in Microsoft Access, but it occurs to me that there are quite possibly systems already in existence somewhere out there, and I don't see a lot of point in reinventing the wheel if I don't have to. All I have managed to find so far, though, are systems for schools to manage their relief teachers and one small application that only runs on PDAs.

Has anyone around here come across anything along these kinds of lines? Has anyone done anything like this themselves? Even if there is nothing like this out there, I would be very interested to hear thoughts and opinions about the potential value or otherwise of such a system (including the possibility of it being a shared facility that local relief teachers could also use and contribute to) and what kinds of facilities or reporting others think might be useful if I was to end up creating this.

I look forward to any feedback anyone might like to offer.

Cheers

Simon


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Amberlee Amberlee is offline
 
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An interesting idea
Old 12-13-2009, 07:11 PM
 
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Two thoughts come to mind:

#1 - Right now I am organizing my subbing history using a table in Microsoft Word with school/dispatch#/teachername/grade level/date/district. But it's too much to fit length wise and that kind of annoys me.

#2 - Another thought: One of my districts has approximately 150 schools and the other about 45 -- Keeping track of each school (with detailed notes) is way too much information for me since I end up going so many different places. There's a few that I want to keep more information on (the places I actually return to) so if there was a way to separate a few out for more detailed information that'd be nice.
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Simple Simon Simple Simon is offline
 
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:03 PM
 
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Thanks, Amberlee.

Yes, I had considered just putting something together in Excel but, like tables in Word, I feel that it would just be too limiting. I like your idea of being able to filter the record by schools one would actually prefer to work at. Maybe some kind of overall rating system could be applied.
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I have an easy system...
Old 12-14-2009, 12:36 PM
 
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I only sub in two districts...both are very small (4 elems, one middle and one high school)

I have a daily planner in which I write down all of my assignments. I put a smiley face next to the teachers who I've subbed for and had a good day! I put a frowny face next to the teachers who I will NOT go back for again. If the assignment was iffy...I'll put a :-/ face next to it!

I just keep a folder for each school with information in them. I have maps, phone numbers etc. in the folder that I might need.

Anything else I need I can get from asking people in the school.
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:57 PM
 
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I just make an Excel file. I like the previous posters' idea of the smiley/frowny face.


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Rowe Rowe is offline
 
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Old 12-14-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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Hi Simon,

I appreciate your need for organization, but if you're planning to be a full-time substitute teacher, then you will be coming and going to so many different schools that won't even have time to think about all that you're thinking about right now. Anyway, I don't think a substitute teacher would need to keep such extensive records on any student. A substitute teacher's responsibility is to simply follow the lesson plans furnished by the school's regular teacher. Subsititutes could spend all night on their computers writing extensive notes about students who they don't even teach, but then they'll surely miss out on countless substitute assignments that can be posted, literally, at any time of the day or night! Subsitutes have very little time to prepare and plan for anything, except getting out the door and getting to the assignment on time, especially now that so many people are competing for jobs.

Now, once you decide to be a regular teacher, other teachers, hopefully your grade-level's team leader or grade-level chairperson will fill you in on all the details of how to keep record of your important data and reports. If it is really important for you to find out how regular teachers are managing their records. Then, when school lets out, instead of leaving with the students, you could hang out with the teachers and ask questions.

I'm curious though. In your response, you said that you recently graduated from a college of education in New Zealand. Did your college's education program require you to do internships, teacher observations, and practicums? During this time is when assigned mentor teachers usually cover subject matter related to planning and an effective record keeping system. But I think it's also great that you're asking about different record-keeping systems! I hope my response was helpful.

Last edited by Rowe; 12-14-2009 at 03:44 PM..
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Simple Simon Simple Simon is offline
 
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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Thanks for all the responses.

RadSub19... most subs I know use paper-based systems along the lines you're describing (although yours is the first I've heard of to use those smiley faces). I'm afraid I'm just not much of a pen and paper person. Having been involved with computers for nearly 30 years, I am pretty addicted to the keyboard and mouse for just about all forms of record-keeping and communication (plus it saves the odd tree here and there ;-) ).

Rowe, thanks for your comprehensive and thoughtful response. I agree that there is no need to keep detailed student records in such a system, and I sure don't want to be up all night typing such things. I only see this as being an electronic version of the types of record keeping systems some of the most effective subs I have met so far seem to use. In the area I am most likely to be working, there are about 12 schools that I could end up being placed at (plus I intend on focussing on a particular level within those schools). That's not to many to make it worthwhile keeping some kind of basic records about them, but enough to make it (for me) worthwhile to do so. Apart from anything else, I often struggle to remember names, but I know how important this is to kids, so anything that can help in this department has got to be a good thing .

"In your response, you said that you recently graduated from a college of education in New Zealand. Did your college's education program require you to do internships, teacher observations, and practicums?"

I have seen the record keeping systems that are used in schools over here and, quite frankly, I am not impressed. They are generally incredibly cumbersome and inefficient. But I should emphasise that the kind of thing I am talking about here would serve quite a different purpose to such internal systems. To give a simple example: one sub I met during a recent placement kept a paper record of particular activities she had carried out in particular classrooms, simply so she would be better prepared if the usual teacher hadn't left specific work for the kids. In other words, I'm not looking to recreate the kinds of systems schools and classroom teachers use, I'm looking to take some of the best organisational approaches used by relief teachers and computerise them... if that makes sense?

Cheers

Simon
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Old 12-17-2009, 03:32 PM
 
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You are certainly welcome Simon, but my question is, other than the name of the school, the date the assignment was completed, and the job number, what exactly is this effective sub keeping record of? That's what baffles me. It seems to be an excessive amount of record keeping for a substitute teacher who will encounter a seemingly limitless number of children from one assignment to the next.
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Simple Simon Simple Simon is offline
 
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Old 12-20-2009, 01:12 AM
 
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Hi again, Rowe.

Because of the relatively small number of schools in my immediate area, most subs tend to get repeat placements at the same schools and often in the same classrooms. If you are focussing on subbing at a particular level within the schools you might end up rotating around maybe 30 or 40 classrooms in total. I gather from the various discussions I've been reading around here (and your reference to "seemingly limitless" numbers of children that this isn't all that common for most subs?

In this kind of scenario, many subs find it useful to keep records of class rolls in order to help remember kids' names (some even photograph the kids in order to help with this). Many keep records of any particular issues (medical, behavioural etc) that some of the kids might have. For those classes where teachers don't leave prescribed work and it's necessary for the sub to call upon their "bag of tricks" of activities, it can be helpful to have a record of what activities have been used with which classes in order to avoid duplication (and, perhaps, what kinds of activities worked particularly well). I'd also want, where possible, to record details of the classroom teacher's contact details, names of the principal, office staff and other important contacts.

I guess what I'm coming to understand is that what little I have seen of relief teaching where I live is probably very different to what it's like in many (most?) other places. I have so much to learn!
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