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Help! How do I become a good substitute???
Old 11-15-2017, 08:33 AM
 
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Hi, I've recently began substitute teaching for our district. At first, I was really excited. I love kids, and I really needed a job with flexible hours, so I thought this would be perfect. The problem is, I stink at it! I don't have any teaching or classroom experience, outside of volunteering in my kids' classrooms. The district requires plenty of background checks, and makes you watch a few lame videos, but otherwise, they don't have any sort of training or instruction. The few times I have subbed, I cant seem to control the class no matter what I do. The last time, I nearly ended up in tears! My question is, is there any kind of training or instruction that I could do on my own time? I really want to be successful at this, but I just don't know what I'm doing!!


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cattleya cattleya is offline
 
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This is just one person's opinion...
Old 11-15-2017, 11:05 AM
 
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I am a class 2 sub and have an M.Ed.


If you can afford it, possibly get the Wong and Wong classroom management book. Also, look into how to follow a teacher's lesson plan. They do use some acronyms. It took me a while to understand how a classroom should be managed. In essence, each minute of the day is usually "planned," including potty breaks and all the rest. Keeping to the schedule will eliminate "gaps" of time where the children will see that you are flailing and will, therefore, try to take advantage of you. You have heard the term "herding cats?"

Another thing is to start "trust building." Tell them your expectations. Make them understand that nothing changes when a sub is in charge. They must do the same work they usually do according to the lesson plan. Some children think that having a substitute means it is a "free" day.

Kids will poke and prod to find any weakness in the teacher (sub) and you must show them that you are in charge, and yet, you are also a kind person who they can trust. It's a hard job.

Teachers who have never subbed sometimes do not know that all subs are not retired teachers, or have some kind of free magical training that tells them all that a teacher with a BA or M.Ed knows. Any teacher with a realistic outlook on the world will move her plan around (which can be done, it is just a computer program) and put a sort of "dumbed down" plan with less to do, and simple explanations for the sub. Some teachers do not do this. We also need to be sympathetic that the teacher may have been unable to go to work because of an accident or sickness and they may not have had time to give the sub a nice sub plan.

Among the things to do if it all gets away from you is to remove parts of the plan that you could not get to and tell the teacher what these parts are.

For instance, in a second-grade class, you are learning about words with /ea/ in them. You might use the pages the teacher has directed to use (hopefully she/he gives page numbers!) and then, if time is getting away because time got away from you, or there was a tornado drill, or the library lady came and read a book, or some other interruption that caused you to get off the plan. Write /ea/ words on the board asking the children to follow along as you write the letters. In other words, you have to work out strategies that you will use if there are "gaps" due to problems or mistakes. Once, I had a high school class and was not given any lesson plan. I had the students to write to prompts on the board (things like: "what one item would you take with you on a deserted island, and why?)

As I was writing the above, I thought that it might be a good idea to get a test prep book which sums up most all the "best practices" and teaching strategies used in schools. These show you how to make KWL charts and other things that teachers know but subs do not know.

My favorite of these books so far is The Big Yellow Book: Ultimate Guide to the Generalist EC-6 Texas test 191. It doesn't matter whether you are in Texas or not, the knowledge that a teacher must have is fairly standard throughout the USA-- the only thing that is really different is state history. These test study books are great guides to the standart]ds that a teacher must know and teach to her students at various ages and grades.

These books will really decode much of what is happening in the classroom.
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Old 11-15-2017, 01:27 PM
 
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One district that I am with requires you to go through an online class before your first assignment. It is through STEDI.org. Anyone can pay and take the courses. For someone coming in from outside of education it could definitely be handy.
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not lame videos
Old 11-15-2017, 02:13 PM
 
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Pay careful attention to those videos. They're not a waste because it let you know of policies at a district level.
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Another option...
Old 11-16-2017, 02:15 AM
 
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You might consider subbing as an ed tech/para... that will put you in a classroom with a teacher and you can observe. At our school, subs often are started in resource rooms where there are several adults present and lots of support. The key is to watch and learn.

I teach a substitute teacher workshop... one of the truths I start with is that the only behavior you can truly control is your own. New subs often think they are there to control the kids, keep them quiet, etc. If you can change your reason for being there to teaching and keep a laser focus on learning many "classroom management" issues will disappear.

That's easier to describe than it is to do, I'll admit. I run a fast-paced room so there isn't much time for "foolishness." That's not to say we don't have fun, but we have purpose.


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Old 11-16-2017, 09:29 AM
 
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Don't let your lack of teaching or classroom experience stop you. I received a teaching credential (years ago) and ended up subbing. I never did teach full time. All those classes and student teaching really taught me almost nothing about how to perform in the classroom. No one teaches you what to say or do when you step in that door. It takes practice and even after many years I still have days where I think, "Well there's nothing I could have done to have been more successful in that class."

It will take practice, trying different techniques, and seeing what works for you. You can also ask more specific questions on this board and you will get lots of responses.

Don't give up!
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Old 11-16-2017, 09:57 AM
 
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I second Mainesub's suggestion of subbing as a resource teacher. I had the pleasure and good fortune of doing a long term as an inclusion teacher, so I was in several different classrooms throughout the day. I got to watch three of the best middle school teachers I know teach their classes and one not so great teacher. At the point that I did this, I had been subbing for a long time but I learned SO MUCH from all four teachers. I do mostly long terms, but any random days I have that I have a chance to work in another teacher's room, I'm on it. There is always, always, always something to be learned.

Don't get discouraged. I'm not sure any of us started out fabulous. I know I did not. You learn as you go...you will figure out what works for you and what doesn't. As far as not being able to control the class and ending up in tears, even little kids can tell when you're frustrated. Always remember that you are in charge and you are the adult in the room. Be fair, be strict, set high expectations, and if you threaten a consequence, make sure you follow through. Every. Single. Time. On the flip side, be positive, respectful of them, and don't take their misbehavior or their "testing the sub" personally. It's what they do. Don't take it personally, but don't tolerate it either.

I wish I could be more specific but I honestly don't know how to tell someone to be a good sub. I can just say that it wasn't necessarily something that came naturally to me at first. Stick with it! Good luck!

Oh! One more thing I did think of... Learn names as quickly as humanly possible. I am to the point where I can learn them almost instantly, but it's taken a lot of practice. I think it helps immensely if you can look a kid in the eye and call them by name, both if your are praising them for something or if you are having to ask them to do (or not to do) something.
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Old 11-16-2017, 05:47 PM
 
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I agree that you should learn names as quickly as possible. I actually used to (and might go back to) creating a seating chart before the class comes in. If there are name plates on the desk, it's easy. Otherwise have a seating chart drawn out. By the time you take roll you will have an idea which students will challenge you most. Note those names as you take roll. You can add the other names later if you wish. Just be casual about it and the kids shouldn't know what you are doing. Then when you need the names it will be easier. Somehow it will give you a little more authority.
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I'm still learning
Old 11-22-2017, 02:32 PM
 
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Subinnc is rignt
Quote:
Don't get discouraged. I'm not sure any of us started out fabulous. I know I did not. You learn as you go...you will figure out what works for you and what doesn't. As far as not being able to control the class and ending up in tears, even little kids can tell when you're frustrated. Always remember that you are in charge and you are the adult in the room. Be fair, be strict, set high expectations, and if you threaten a consequence, make sure you follow through. Every. Single. Time. On the flip side, be positive, respectful of them, and don't take their misbehavior or their "testing the sub" personally. It's what they do. Don't take it personally, but don't tolerate it either.
I enjoy subbing in the elementary level, and it's great having a Para in the room (but usually that is only for the Kindergarten classes I'm in). (1)The Para is familiar with the teacher's ways and the students themselves. (2) If you sub in the same grade level for different teachers at the same school you will learn the routine and a lot of the students' names. (3) Once you get comfortable with the routine, school layout, teachers' expectations... you'll become more comfortable as a sub.

Sometimes I'll ask to "hangout" and observe a teacher in her/his classroom before I sub to learn the teacher's routine. This (along with any sub plan) puts an end to the "but Mr./Ms. So-and-So does it a different way".... I also say, "I'm Ms. K. and today we are going to do things a little differently!

To be a good sub, you've got to plan ahead; be one step or two ahead of the students; have an activity or two planned for what you're going to do if the computer fails or there isn't a sub plan...(Ask the lead teacher or co-teacher or teacher across the hall for copies of handouts for daily activities)....

I sub K-5 and I'm a school media specialist, so I bring an interesting picture book or two; math riddles/word problems for the appropriate grade level...just in case there is time left from the teacher's lesson plan.

Class management is a biggie. I tell everyone about the Rick Norris videos on YouTube and Michael Linsin's blog Smart Classroom Management website (with teacher feedback). You'll be glad you spent the time watching the videos and reading the blog questions/answers.

Remember different schools have different ways of doing things, so have lunch with the teachers in the break room and listen to them talk about their classrooms. You can do this, and it can be fun, sometimes!
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Here's my two bits of wisdom....
Old 12-05-2017, 09:12 AM
 
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I've been subbing for years. Before that, I was a Teachers aide in a 4th/5th grade class. Being a TA was invaluable, as I learned on the job by both observing and doing.

I learned more as a TA than any credential course has ever taught me!
I think it's a good route to go for new-comers!
You get to be inside a classroom, seeing and doing everything, without the full responsibilities of being a teacher. And, you get paid! Not so much as subbing, but it's steady work as opposed to subbing, so it all evens out in the end!

Try it. You'll learn a lot and see if you even want to be doing this at all!


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