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What do you need to be an effective substitute?
Old 06-19-2017, 05:11 PM
 
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Besides more pay and possibly benefits. For elementary school (I know nothing about secondary at all).

I like to have my day well-planned for a substitute. What do substitute teachers want in the way of plans? Do you prefer direct teaching or student self-sufficiency? Do you want to know the students you should "watch", or do you want to figure that out? Do you want it all on one document or do you want a "binder" with generic information PLUS the daily plan? Does using highlighter help?

I usually have a detailed time schedule, with lessons that are a mix of teacher- and student-directed. I try to get all the info on the same sheet, and also keep the fire drill info close at hand.

In return, I would like a substitute to tell me a) what did/didn't they get to? b) who was absent? c) who was a good helper? and d) who needs me to talk to them?

Thanks.


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Helpful Sub Plans
Old 06-19-2017, 05:48 PM
 
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Detailed timed activities to the schedule are greatly appreciated (along with names of any teachers/teacher assistants for the day, and information about class changes or special activities).

I like teacher-directed activities for two reasons: (1) I like to teach and (2) in student-directed activities the students typically become "forgetful" of what is expected of them. Teachers generally say "they know what to do, and/or 'where it is...'" Well... the elementary kids don't! I think student-directed activities can be fun if teachers leave good instructions for those as well. And please identify your rules, procedure/bathroom hand signals, and who should or should not work together.

An easy way to get great feedback on how your class behaved while you were away is to leave a clipboard behavior chart with students' names and columns for: behaved, raised hands, talking out of turn, quiet, getting out of seat, answered questions, good/bad attitude, helpful, disrespectful, not following rules, etc.. etc... (you can set up a legend at the bottom of the page and list items by alphabets, for example: a - helpful; b - good attitude... Then your substitute teacher can check or dot across the row behaviors as they arise, and you can determine how well your class went in your absence.

I like to leave written notes for the teacher to let them know if a subject or activity didn't occur, and the titles of any books I may have read and discussed with their students. Using a highlighter is always helpful; working dry erase pens for use on the boards; and your password/user names for any computer programs used OR the name of the lead teacher who will login to your computer, if necessary.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by KatrynG; 06-19-2017 at 06:12 PM..
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Plans
Old 06-19-2017, 06:02 PM
 
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Clear plans with more work than you can ever finish. A heads-up on health related and problem kids. But, then again, I know most of the kids already for the schools at which I teach. Also, as an aside, I absolutely hate it when I get plans with "Sub" as the address. I'm a "teacher." Technically I am a sub but I am fond of those teachers who leave plans with "Dear Guest Teacher" or "Dear Teacher" at the top. See very few of those. Most of the teachers know me anyway, so they just greet me by name...

Last edited by jakeh; 06-19-2017 at 06:12 PM.. Reason: more information
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Old 06-19-2017, 06:58 PM
 
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The absolute most amazing plans a teacher has left for me were plans left in a binder on desk labeled as a substitute folder. The binder included a detailed lesson plan, emergency procedures, a list of children with allergies, and any worksheets for the day with sticky notes that had the time frame to complete them stuck on the stacks of work. This teacher also had placed beside the binder any teacher edition textbooks I would need and had sticky notes with the time frames I would be using those for as well. Even though the time frames for work were on sticky notes placed on books and worksheets, the time frames for the day's agenda were also in the plans. I as sub enjoy the time frames on both so I don't have to skim through a large page of text every time before moving on to the next lesson. I also love it when a teacher leaves a list of helpful students, those with behavior issues, and names of other teachers who are best to ask for help! One note though, is that substitute teachers are not mind readers. If you plan for example, for a third period class to come to you during the time frame that you would normally have second period, make sure you're clear that the change was on purpose so that the right lessons get to the correct group of students if that makes sense. It's also amazing to include an extra copy of a class roster that the sub can take with him or her all day to make sure the class stays together and every student is currently where they need to be. This next tip may be picky of me ,but my biggest pet peeve is when students especially the younger ones take forever to sharpen pencils. It wastes a lot of time and can make the day go less smoothly. It's always awesome when a teacher has a container of pre-sharpened pencils for students who may need them. Anyways, I hope any of this made any sense, and I hope I could be of help!
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Old 06-20-2017, 09:47 AM
 
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A clear plan with time blocked for each lesson. I prefer teacher directed lessons and more work than I can reasonably finish. A list of anyone with medical/allergy issues. Reminders of students who are pulled out for learning center, speech, ELL, instrumental music etc.

If all else fails, because really I understand life happens, the agenda written in the whiteboard the night before is all I need for your class to have a productive day.


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Old 06-20-2017, 01:27 PM
 
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I think it is great that you took the time to ask this question.

I have worked for about 1800 teachers over 20 years, so based on my experience, I will list the main things that teachers can do to make for smooth days.

1. Make sure that everything we need for the day is easily accessible. The lesson plan should be in an obvious place.
Text books or papers we need should be easily spotted and preferably labeled to correspond with the lesson plan.
2. If available, allow easy access to your teachers editions and answer keys.

Subs do not have much time to study the lesson, so with the teachers editions and answers available, direct instruction is more smooth. We don't have to figure as much out while we are teaching.
I sometimes will only find a student edition on the teachers desk, and then notice the teachers edition is stacked in a dresser or cabinet. Please have it out for us.

3. Please either have the ELMO projector or smart board ready to go for us, or tell us how to access it.

I am frequently frustrated trying to find the right plugs or switches in order to turn on the equipment or get it in the correct mode.
I sometimes have to get others teachers help, and it is not always easy for them either.

4. Sometimes we cannot use the smart board because it is tied in to the teachers PC, and I do not expect the teachers to provide their password.
If this is the case, please provide adequate writing space, either on the whiteboard, or chart paper. Erase for us what is no longer needed.

5. Have adequate writing or plain paper for us and/or tell us where it is. In the lower grades especially, I sometimes cannot find a single sheet of blank paper.

6. Have as many sharp pencils as possible, or at least a sharpener that works. In the lower grades especially, a bad sharpener with few sharp pencils can make for a difficult day.

7. Let us know whether students can sharpen there own pencils, or if this is strictly the teachers job.

8.Provide a seating chart.

9. Let us know whether students are allowed to switch seats to work with partners. I doubt this is ever allowed all the time, but let us know if it is sometimes allowed.
I am nearly always asked this question.

10. Let us know who is helpful, who might be a challenge, and who might need extra academic support.

11. I sometimes get plans with unrealistic time frames, such as a lesson that looks like it should take an hour, but is given only a 30 minute time slot in the plan.

Please let us know if you over planned. I never assume the teacher over plans, so I sometimes go a little faster than I otherwise would. Also, if you did over plan, tell us what to prioritize if we need to leave something out.

12. Let us know your, or the schools general discipline plan. Some schools want troublesome students to be sent to the office, others do not. Let us know who the best support teacher is if we have a problem.

13. Let us know if the students are to copy down the question. Someone nearly always asks this.

14. Let us know if you have a preference for how to present a reading lesson.
Do you want me to read it aloud? Do you want the students to take turns reading? Do you want them to read with partners, or silently by themselves?

15. For lower grades especially, do you want me to model some problems, and then have students finish independently, or should we do everything whole class?

16. If 14 and 15 is our decision, let us know that also.

17. let us know who and when students go to speech, music, RSP, etc.

18. Tell where to pick up students in the morning, and where to pick them up after recess or lunch if it is different.

19. Let us know student choices for activities when they are caught up with their work.

Last edited by Sirsubalot; 06-20-2017 at 06:11 PM..
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Subinnc Subinnc is offline
 
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I need...
Old 06-20-2017, 02:43 PM
 
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A schedule. I need to know that from 8:30-9:45 you do math...and then tell me what you want me to do. I prefer you leave me what you had planned to do that day, but I also understand that you don't always know who will be in your room. Also tell me what you really need me to accomplish and what is extra work/filler.

Tell me what your behavior system is. If it's something overly complicated (I've heard of this), please simplify it for me for the day. It's not that I'm not smart enough to follow a complicated behavior system, but if it's my first time in your classroom, I have at least 25 new names to learn, a schedule to learn, etc...make it easy for me, lol. If you want me to give Dojo points or something simple, awesome. If it's a five step process...not so awesome.

Speaking of names, if the names aren't on desks, I NEED a seating chart. I learn names quick, usually in a couple minutes, and that helps me with classroom management. I feel out of sorts if I can't learn names quickly.

If you'd like to point out the kids I may find challenging, that's okay, but if not, I'll figure that out pretty quickly. The kids are pretty good about saying, "Joey ALWAYS acts like this..." Or whatever.

Last, please tell me the names of friendly teachers who can help if have questions. If your next door neighbor isn't pleasant and helpful, don't tell me to ask her

Oh and you can make a binder with classroom procedures, emergency procedures and all that...for reference.

Thanks for asking!
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Old 06-21-2017, 04:51 AM
 
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Don't say "Ask Mrs. Jones or Mr. Smith (co-teachers) for help" when you haven't asked them to help me should I need it. Happened second to last day of school and teachers refused saying they were busy.

Don't plan for me to show a video from your Amazon Prime account. I don't have your log in credentials and don't have Amazon Prime myself.

Don't plan for the sub to show a Bill Nye video from YouTube when the site is blocked for subs. Also happened on the second to last day of school.

Do have clear, concise lesson plans with all materials readily available. Note what is a must do and what can be skipped.

If planning a lesson that involves technology have a backup plan ready in case the technology fails. Web sites get blocked, students "forget" to bring their iPad.

Note the location of the "Grab and Go" binder for emergencies. Better yet make it a standard (bright) color and have a standardized location for it (near the door) for the entire school and/or district. Wouldn't that be awesome subs?

Information on how to quiet a class with a non-verbal signal (lights, clapping, hand in the air) is helpful. I once subbed for a teacher that had a "Give me 5" poster posted in her room (as did every other teacher). Turns out this teacher didn't use "Give me 5" to quiet her class, she just yelled. So when I said "Give me 5" the class continued to talk.
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Old 06-21-2017, 07:28 AM
 
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I sometimes wonder if a class assignment is supposed to be collected, placed in a student's folder, or sent home. A short additional note saying "collect," "go over answers together and send home," or "have students put it in their purple folders" would be helpful.

The suggestion about containers of sharpened and unsharpened pencils is a good one.

I also agree with the idea of leaving a class roster with first and last names. When I'm taking attendance, it makes my life a lot easier when I know that absent student John D. is really John Doe.

Leaving a mix of teacher-directed and student-directed activities works for me!

Having a list on a nearby bulletin board or in the sub folder of school phone numbers is very helpful. There have been many times when I've needed to call the office or another classroom, but have wasted time trying to find the number.

If there are students who need to leave early for safety patrol or other activities, please leave the times they're supposed to leave the room. When some teachers provide this information, it isn't always up to date. Sometimes I'll see, "Safety patrol students can leave at 3:15," but when I say this, they'll answer, "Yes, but I need to start getting ready, and I need to go to my locker at 3:05 so I can leave at 3:15." I wish teachers would make this more clear. There are also the constant requests like "I need to leave five minutes early to pick up my little sister." Are they allowed to go or not? If so, it should be in the note.

Please make sure that out-of-date information is pulled from sub folders and deleted from Aesop (assuming your school district uses Aesop). Unfortunately, a few teachers leave old information, and that needlessly wastes time.

Here's something that happens every now and then, and it makes things very confusing for a sub. There's a two or three-page language arts, social studies, math, or science lesson in a manual with instructions for presenting the lesson. The teacher asks the sub to follow the manual's directions, and that's perfectly all right. Sometimes, though, the teacher adds plenty of his or her own instructions, and they don't always mesh with what the manual is asking the teacher to do. This makes things needlessly confusing for everyone.

Thanks for asking!
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Wow! Thanks-great responses
Old 06-22-2017, 10:42 AM
 
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Thanks for all the great responses! Now I know that I do the right thing by most of you, and here's what I need to change:

1) Seating chart. I don't use one, so I never thought to include it!
2) First and LAST names of students. I will remember to leave a printout of student names and numbers for the sub to use when taking attendance since they have to do it manually.
3) Students leaving early for scheduled activities - yeah, I need to let the sub know if they have to go 5 minutes early to catch the bus, etc.

Thanks!


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Old 06-29-2017, 07:01 AM
 
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The things I'd love to find waiting for me at any job: (I only sub elementary)

1. good plans -- each block marked out with what I need to teach and what work the kids need to do. I don't need a lot of words though...I have several teachers who go on and on and on and on with instructions, but really bullet points would be more helpful. (although..."on and on and on" is still much more helpful than nothing! lol) And no, don't highlight anything because I like to do that myself and you might highlight things I won't.

2. Yes, please tell me who needs to be watched. I love kids so telling me that isn't going to prejudice me against him or her, it just gives me a heads up from the beginning.

3. Also, please tell me if so-and-so is having some other problems.. To look over and find Susie crying at her desk is disconcerting... is she scared to have a sub? did someone do something to her? or is her mother in the hospital? You don't have to tell me confidential things just say "Susie has been having some problems at home so if she cries in class here is how I've been handling it..."

4. Please don't say "play a Brain Pop for a break after the first language arts block, my password is on the computer", and then not provide the password. Or, forget to provide the password to get into the actual Brain Pop site -- I need that as well as the computer password. And telling me that Ms. So-and-So next door will help me is useless because if she does it before school starts then the site times out before I need it. And I can't ask her to come over in the middle of the morning because there's no one to watch her class while she comes to help me. I have done "musical classrooms" with a teacher before -- I send a kid over with a note, that teacher comes to her door, I'm in my door waiting, we swap classrooms and I stand in her doorway while she fixes my brain pop, then we swap back. Not ideal, and disruptive for her!

5. If you have a complicated system of points/stars/whatever please tell me about it. Usually I just don't bother and I tell the kids that I'll report good work and behavior to Ms. Teacher and she can deal with points when she comes back.

6. If you don't have the emergency contact folder hanging near the door (where it's supposed to be!) please tell me where it is! ugh. I was told one morning when I signed in that there would be a fire drill that day. When I got to the classroom I didn't see the red folder near the door. I looked on the desk, around the desk, even in the main drawers of the desk (ordinarily I don't like to go into a teacher's desk). No folder. So, I told the office. I felt like a bit of a tattle tale but I wasn't willing to walk out of that school without a red folder in my hand because that would be the one time it was a real fire, or the one time the principal was on that side of the building to see me.

7. I would love for you to leave some time in the plans for me to read to the kids. That's my favorite thing to do.
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Clear expectations and a little freedom...
Old 06-30-2017, 01:36 PM
 
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I love it when I have the opportunity to talk with the teacher for a few minutes with the lesson plan in-hand. I tend to be a big picture person. I want to know what you want me to accomplish during this unit. I like objectives/outcomes--even if they're loose and a bit vague. I can then adjust as we go... I remember once having a detailed (literally minute by minute) plan for a math lesson that simply didn't work. We all ended up totally confused--including the neighboring teacher who I consulted. But because I knew the objective, we were able to regroup and start over. (Freedom and flexibility--I stole some time from the free read unit.) I didn't exactly follow the plan, but we got a basic understanding of the concept.

Personally, I like a variety of direct teaching and self-directed--even within the same unit. I like to accommodate different learning styles where possible. I believe there's a difference between activity and accomplishment--and that there's room for both. When a kid finishes his work early, I may give the right to choose his fill-in activity, but he'll have to explain what he hopes to accomplish while doing it. "I'd like to free draw and rest my brain" will get my approval.

Understand that I may not have time to understand your very complicated behavior management system (I've seen some doozies) but that I will manage behavior and I will not undermine you or your system. I am not there to compete with you, but they are going to be MY kids while I'm there. I won't blame you for what happens under my watch. That also means I don't expect you to remember to tell me every little detail about each kid. (I once was left a note that said: "One of the kids is prone to seizure but confidentiality issues prevent me from telling you which one." It was funny, but I get it... and all I really needed to know was the protocol if he/she did have one.)

I'd like you to trust me--although I know that's not fair if I've never subbed for you. I promise I will be accountable. I also need you to be a little suspicious of what the kids tell you about me the next day. Maybe. I won't believe everything they tell me about you, either. "But Mrs. Regular Teacher always let us..."

By the way, I like what you want in return. I might change your "d)" just a little... I'll let you know if there are any situations that might require follow-up. "Johnny really struggled during social studies... seemed to have trouble grasping..." But you won't just get problems. "Suzie was so excited that she 'got' rounding off... if you have time, ask her to show you!"

When we work together we are teaching the kids a lot of important lessons that aren't necessarily on the written lesson plan... things like shared responsibility and accountability. We are all in this together.
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Old 07-24-2017, 02:40 PM
 
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I like the details about kids-- who has what quirk and what strategy works. That way if kid A is acting up I know oh that kid had a note and I can pull kid A aside to see if they took their med yet (I love those sort of sub notes and the kids respond well too). Or if Kid b tends to worry about something and we need to go over it, if I need to tell kid c that we will call so and so if they keep acting up, etc. I also find the kids appreciate this-- sometimes they want to know how I know and I say your teacher wanted to make sure you had a good day, so they told me or left me a note, and the kids like that their teacher cared enough to do this as well as that I paid attention. I also like to know what the work that really should get done is and the extra work in case you need something to do work is. Otherwise I worry we are not getting enough done and I don't want the class to be behind.
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