I subbed for a teacher yesterday afternoon and today that thought (& told me so) there was no reason to provide me with sub plans because her plan book was very detailed. The plan book was indeed quite detailed, but with tiny writing that was a challenge to dicipher and abbreviations. And subs need more of an idea of the classroom routines than is contained in the teacher's plan book.
I arrived minutes after the office opened today because, having seen the teacher's idea of sub plans yesterday I knew I would be translating from the planning book & making my own "sub plans". The secretary was surprised to see me so early. When I explained, she said "Have you SEEN her plan book, it's vERY detailed" Yes, it is. But there is important information regarding classroom routines that a sub needs to know plus figuring out her abbreviations.
All day I was compiling a list in my mind of things subs need to know that are not in the teacher's plan book.
Not knowing these important details makes classroom management difficult. It makes the sub look confused. And the students felt like they needed to interupt constantly to tell me how to do my job!
Here's a few:
1) Do I pick the kids up at the busses or somewhere else, or do they just come in. what time do I open the doors.
2) where does lunch money go? I put it in the attendance envelope only to learn that each student takes it to the office themselves.
(Feel free to add to this list)
Also her lesson plan said things like: 'hand out xxxxx" and gave the name of the book it was from, and the name wasn't on the hand-outs. It made sense to her, but it takes TIME for the sub to figure it out.
I figured it all out and did a good job, because I am good at this and have experience but I bet you all can see why this was distressing!
I subbed in all-day Kindergarten today. New school to me, new building. I would love to add to your list! I have mentally threatened to write a manual and send it anonymously to the principals of each elementary school I sub at! Here goes:
What is the morning routine when kids first enter the room?
Tell me about restroom breaks: when? how often? do you allow the kids to go individually when they need? are there hall passes?
What do you use to get attention? for quiet?
Which kids can you rely on for information/clarification? Which kids have behavior issues which I need to particularly attend to? Tell me about your special needs kids. Tell me about parent volunteers and what they should do when they show up and look confused because you're not there. (and you've forgotten to prepare for them...sigh...wasting their time and making me look like an idiot!)
Attendance: is there a form or do you just put it on a sticky note? Oh yes, it would be nice if you left me a roster of students with first and last names since the secretary gets irritated when I simply write "Conner J" on the sticky note. (and by the way, it is REALLY helpful if you've crossed off the names of students who are no longer in the class and/or added the names of any new students...and what is the total number of kids in your class: this is always helpful for 'nose counts' when I take them to the restrooms!)
Lunch count: what is included? buying? hot/cold/ specific lunch choice?
Where is the (library, gym, art room, restrooms)? Do you stay with them for specials? Please don't assume I know.
Materials: where are the (fill in the blank)? do the kids have their own text books? are they in their desks/lockers/bookshelf?
When you tell me to follow your behavior plan and "give rewards as appropriate"...could you spell this out for me? Since I haven't observed your room and your methods before, I don't understand what you want or expect. And the kids get very disappointed if they are competing for team points and I don't 'help' them to advance even when they are being perfect angels. Once they realize this, all is lost and they see no reason to behave appropriately! (gee, thanks for that...)
When you say "do (fill in blank)" do you have a format in mind (or should I just wing it??!!)
When you say "play ___ game" please give me directions. Telling me the kids "should know how to play this" isn't very helpful, and often times, they don't! (or will spend so much time arguing with each other that the time is eaten up futilely)
Snacks: yes/no/when/what if a child forgot a snack--do you have extras stashed someplace?
When your kids change classes for part of the day, do they line up or just go? When I need to go to another room to teach, it is very helpful to know the room number where I am expected to be. (in some schools the teachers move and kids stay put...always nice to know!)
Recess: do I take them out and stay with them? how do i know if it's 'inside recess' or 'outside'? Do I decide myself, or who should I ask? Do you send a child down to the office to find out? When I have recess duty, am I responsible for just my class or the whole playground? If it is inside recess, what are they allowed to do in the room? Do you play a game as a group? What noise level should I expect/insist upon?
Bus duty: where do I go? what are my responsibilities? who is 'in charge'? (please tell me it's not ME!) (I've been put in this situation when I knew NOTHING about the kids, the buses, the protocol,etc.) ARRGGGHHHHH
Dismissal: how does this happen? are the kids' buses called over the PA? what goes home? are walkers dismissed first or last? do chairs go up?
Grading papers: when you tell me to grade your papers, please tell me how you mark papers (number wrong/number correct/checks/check plus/minus) and if I am to grade an essay test, give me what you are looking for as an answer and if you give partial credit.
Ohhh, I'd best stop now. Sorry for the sarcasm, but this is a sore subject for me and YES this is a source of major stress that lasts the entire day long. I know I shouldn't be surprised when I get "see plan book" but I know I'm in for a rough day.
Here's what I do when that happens: I take the plan book and walk down the hall until I find another classroom on the same grade level. I bring in the plan book, find the teacher, introduce myself, and say, "This is what Mrs. X left, but I have a few questions about procedures..." Then, ask away!
I haven't had to do that too often, but I've never had it happen that a teacher didn't bend over backwards to help me out. I suppose if that did happen, I'd move on to the next room down the hall and try again...
ha ha ha! Thanks gottaread for adding to the list. I had already put too much time in figuring it all out to want to add to my list! And guess what folks? I'm covering for her again today!
And, after a good night of sleep, I will say: Yes, those things are relatively simple to figure out, but they are constant through the day and make the sub look confused... and there is that cumulative irritation factor.
Good idea gravdef to take the plan book around asking for help!
And Ball Three, thanks for letting me know what movie that line is from! I will have to watch it again.
As always, I'm glad my good sense of humor helps me bounce back!
...yeah, I guess I was on a roll there. And you are correct, most of those things can eventually be figured out, but I think it is the momentary confusion that continues to occur throughout the day that makes subs look incompetent in the eyes of the other teachers. I had my own classrooms for many many years and I left detailed 'process' type of instructions posted behind my desk as well as detailed plans. I just wish that more teachers would put themselves in the shoes of subs and try to understand how tough it is to walk in and essentially 'punt' all day.
As an 'experienced' teacher (ahem!) I can usually pull it together and have a successful day, but it is so much easier on the kids when subs can make as few fundamental changes as possible. Just saying...
Some teachers think the sub should know everything. I've been subbing for about 10 years and have learned a few tricks, but it's inexcusable for a permanent teacher to leave her stupid plan book open and expect you to decipher it. Next time, ask the principal or VP in to "help" you figure it out. Not only does the boss get to come in and see first hand how hard it is to read the teacher's plan book, but they get to do an informal assessment of the classroom while the teacher's not there. Then, in your notes, you can say that you are so sorry but you asked the principal in to help you figure out the plan for the day. Smile!
Alger, I love your suggested note to "say that you are so sorry but you asked the principal in to help you figure out the plan for the day". I wonder what the teacher comes back to the next day? Awesome.
I hate when this happens! However, I do think most teachers are probably not under the impression that subs can figure it out from their plans, but rather that they don't even realize that they need to put it in their sub plans. I'm sure, for instance, that the quiet signal and your particular guided reading groupings are second nature to the teacher, so much so that they forget to put it in their sub plans. It's almost like some teachers can't step out of their teacher shoes and see their job from the outside. I remember one time I subbed for a Kindergarten teacher for the morning (she was in the building at the time) and was chastised afterwards when I told her that I had done a particular activity in large group (this was not in her plans). She told me I should have done it in small groups and her tone made it quite clear that it wasn't advice, she really thought that I should have known that I needed to do it that way!
Don't you hate "the kids know what to do?" Sigh. Those teachers mean well, I'm sure, but I am also sure that they have NEVER had to sub before in their lives!
I think the teachers should have to work in a different grade and classroom for the day. They would see that different classes and different grades each have their own ways of doing things. They might start to realize how hard it is to just walk into a room and take over like we do every day. It's not always as obvious as they think it is.
One that recently puzzled me was "AR", as in "have kids work on their AR before beginning the science test. They can work together." Huh? I've taught for many years, and I'M a READING SPECIALIST (!) but had no way of knowing that AR meant Accelerated Readers. Now...mind you, this was in a second grade classroom in early October. Did the teacher give me any clues by saying have them READ for 30 minutes? Of course not! And telling me they can work together didn't help either. Oh, BTW, I have no idea why she called them "accelerated readers" because these were just the kids library books!!!! I learned this halfway through the day from one of the other second grade teachers who shook her head and said I should have known that!!!!!
I'm a classroom teacher in the middle of updating my sub lesson plans and I'm glad I was being nosy (and off-task) tonight and came to this board. I am taking all of your advice to heart as there are several things you mentioned that I hadn't thought of including.
I'm sure it takes a lot of time to prepare my favorite type of sub plans. I like it all in a pile or a row in the order that I will need them.... the books, the hand outs, the teacher editions. - with notes There will still be plenty of stress/drama in the job!
I've been given sub plans that seemed to me to be a Word document that the teacher updates when a sub is needed. There's always mistakes - stuff left over from a Sept absense when this is Feb or whatever, but it is still info that really helps.
There will ALWAYS be adapting and 'winging it' that will have to be done... all we subs ask is that teachers MINIMIZE that - - and then when your car breaks down on the way to work we will cheerfully do whatever is needed - - cuz we can!
Let's save the 'high anxiety' assignments for those unavoidable times when teachers just really can't do the ideal sub plans!!!
I subbed for a teacher with very detailed lesson plans, problem was she was an older teacher and her handwriting was so different it was hard to read some of it.
And different schools have certain key words they use. Like SSR (Sustained Silent Reading), well, now that is Reader's Workshop. It's not easy to read someone else's notes when they make those notes for themselves.
We have 4 different lunch options here and every school lines them up in a different order. Luckily the kids usually remembers this important part of their day! HA
And as far as sub plans or sub folders, what about things like fire drills (exit plans), medical info (any diabetic kids in class or allergies). There are a lot of things that need to be in a folder for a sub "just in case".
I don't go to one elementary in our district because too often sub plans have started with directions to go make copies for the work we'll be doing that day - while so many teachers are waiting in line for the copier. I get there early but still there isn't time to get all the copying done and get oriented for the day. The last time I was there, it was a wild 5th grade class and it was awful. It was long enough ago that I could probably try again... and this morning there were three jobs listed on AESOP there. I was so tempted to take one, but I decided I am not that desperate. It's like walking into a buzz saw. The sub is the one who will look bad when the teacher sets us up to fail like that. I will let other subs take those jobs and I'll wait and see what else comes up.
...are the main source of my frustration. Never mind the unruly kids. I can deal with that...but when you leave me plans that are vague, how am I supposed to do my job??? And you got your BA from where??? "Chapter 5" for example. Well, what about Chapter 5? Just read it??? And what are these packets of papers with nooooooo directions on it, except for a bunch of boxes with titles that mean nothing to me. And...did you know that the teacher's manual DOES NOT correspond to the student text book??? "Turn to pg. 15, class...oh, wait, that's not the same page I have!" And you said to use a particular book...but where is it??? Don't assume I just know where everything is in your room. I swear. I've got five kids of my own. I get teaching. But really, people. Don't you know it's a lot easier when I throw out your miserable, non-clarifying sub. plans and just do my own thing instead? I know the standards. Those are clearly stated.
And don't get me started on how more than half the kids don't need an education as much as they need nurturing parents who teach them respect and basic communication skills, as well as how to follow simple instructions.
But I'm not bitter. Not just yet. I love my job, and still am very thankful for the time I get to spend helping these kids get through the day while their teacher is out. Never mind the plans. If they're indecipherable, I'll simply throw them out, make them a kind note indicating the lack of clarity, and do things my own way.
At the risk of sounding like I am obsessed with this topic........
see above, I didn't take a job because too many teachers at that school have sub plans that start with making more copies than I can finish in time, right? So guess what job I ended up with instead.... HS BD, even less plans, not even a planning book in sight.
Now I am going to brag, so brace yourself. I did it, figured it out, pulled it off, managed..... AND when the teacher was absent the NEXT day, I went back - cuz I had figured it out and I didn't want another sub to have to do it (re-invent the wheel).....
YEH, don't ever think subs are sub-par!! We got it goin' on!!!
Well, really, I've subbed for that teacher before. She uses a scripted reading program, so all I had to do was figure out where the books were and which book for which class, and what lesson they were on.... grrrrr but it was do-able, but STILL, gosh!
Please teachers, have some pity for us! Do we really have to cover your class with NO info?