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Tips needed for being a substitute teacher


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Been there, done that. Loved it...

 

1) Act like you know what you're doing, even if you don't.

2) Don't yell, the kids and other teachers will report you, and you won't be asked back. Saw that happen to many new subs.

3) Sometimes the kids are actually right about how things are done, even if it doesn't make sense.

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Been there, done that. Loved it...

 

1) Act like you know what you're doing, even if you don't.

2) Don't yell, the kids and other teachers will report you, and you won't be asked back. Saw that happen to many new subs.

3) Sometimes the kids are actually right about how things are done, even if it doesn't make sense.

 

 

:iagree: and -- try to get an idea of what you will be expected to do -- read through the lesson plans, read any notes left by the teacher (I have only taught in very small private schools).

 

And, in keeping with what CathieC wrote on #3 above, it just takes 5 minutes or less to introduce yourself to the class and invite a controlled discussion with them while you have the lesson plan book open. It puts YOU in charge of the room and the discussion, gives you an unbelievably accurate snapshot of the 'class dynamic' (class clowns, instigators, peace keepers, etc) in a short amnount of time.

 

Another idea is to have something for them to do already written on the board when they enter the room, and have them begin working immediately for maybe 3-5 minutes so you have already established quiet and order and then facilitate discussion......or not.

 

It varies based on whether or not you will be in the room with the same class all day (as I was) or if you will be meeting different groups of student throughout the day.

 

Do a good job and the teacher will request you specifically the next time he/she needs a sub.

 

ETA: I know this is OUT THERE but trust me it happens: Be familiar with Fire Drill Procedure -- know where your Roster and Lesson plans are as most schools require you to grab them and have them with you. Check and see if your windows are open - you will have to close them b4 leaving the room. Read the procedure and learn where your class goes as far as an Exit. I know this seems out there, but when that bell rings, all h*ll breaks loose for a nanosecond in the classroom - I have had to sprint and get students out of the rest room -- if you know where you have to go and what you have to do, you will be doing yourself a huge favor. Another instance where asking another teacher b4 you need to will help.

Edited by MariannNOVA
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I loved subbing Jr High and High school... elementary was HARD work (lots of different directions to go and kids NEEDING their routine preserved and teacher plans that left out important steps...

 

Be friendly but strict.

 

Bring extra pencils/pens/paper if you work with older kids--cuts down on the number of excuses they will try on you for not doing their work!

 

Stickers-- even the high school students LOVE stickers!

 

Bring 'emergency' plans/material/short story to read... I could make up a Bingo game in 2 minutes if I needed too--I kept gridded paper in my briefcase (1/2 sheets that I printed up myself with 6 rows and 5 columns).

 

Bring a good book to read yourself...or some type of puzzle book to occupy your time if you get a 'study hall' or 'free day'.

 

Talk to the staff when you can--let them know what you are comfortable teaching--teachers like to schedule a sub they can trust!

 

Keep an appointment book/calendar handy anytime you are around staff--this way they can 'book' you when they are thinking of it.

 

Bring your own coffee mug/water bottle and probably lunch.

 

Keep a diary/log of your adventures. Somewhere in my storage I have a notebook I called 'Diary of a First-year Sub'... it had a sketch of a woman hiding behind a desk wearing suba gear on the cover... I graduated from college in September 1987--too late to find a full time teaching job so I accepted a job as an 'in house sub' at an inner-city mid-high (9th and 10th grades)...It was a definite growing experience--I looked YOUNG-- and with 1500 students and over 200 teachers I was stopped often for my HALL PASS!!!! The notes I made in my journal were priceless!

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I love love love subbing.

 

What ages are you going to sub? I was surprised that I loved 3rd and 4th grade and high school. I was a little more surprised that I didn't like the littles. Jr high is okay once you get the hang of it, but it requires you to be more "on" the whole time.

 

What things seemed to work for me:

 

1) I have a natural presence that demands respect. I stand up straight. I dress professionally. I act like I know what I'm doing. I behave comfortably in the classroom. This is, of course, more important with the 6th-12th graders.

 

2) In order to be comfy and knowledgable, get there EARLY. You don't want to be fumbling around. You want things to go seamlessly if possible.

 

3) I am serious and strict to start with with just a touch of humor thrown in so they know I'm not just mean and mutiny :) Basically, I give the assignment (almost all classes will start with work they can do themselves first), give a few basic rules, and require silence at first. Then I move to the roll with "When I call your name, please say here. I don't care if you say it in English, Spanish, German, or Nerd" :) Past the initial time period, I let them "keep it to a dull roar." I acknowledge when they are comfortably there so they know to listen for that, not higher.

 

4) With older kids I don't know, when they walk in and say, "a sub!!!" I respond with "and she's mean" said with a straight face. They generally are out to prove that I'm NOT mean rather than making me need to BE mean :)

 

5) I make sure the work gets done. Sometimes we use unauthorized methods. I let some high schoolers print out brains to trace the outline to label them. I let some 9th graders do the work through discussion (with me) and write down the answers (it was work they had done previously but we were gonna get it done. All but 3 kids did it).

 

6) With many classes, not high school though, I do Whole Brain Teaching (http://www.wholebrainteaching.com) to a limited degree (attention getters, lectures, etc). I keep it fun.

 

7) I like tossing out treats (and btw, the jr high kids like them even more than the littles!). I also use puzzles like rebus puzzles. These work well for jr high and high school. With littles, you can play games like sparkle (spelling) and math races and such.

 

8) I discipline privately. High schoolers in the hall way. Tapping desks to redirect kids. Speaking very quietly. Notes.

 

There really is so much more. One thing I wish is that subs could visit various classes for a few days with several subs (like observe two hours each of 3 subs and do that for 3 days). Some people are naturals, but we ALL can learn more from others.

 

BTW, there is a good active sub forum at: proteacher.net

 

ETA: look up how to make a sub bag. Some of the stuff is optional but several writing utensils and paperclips are necessary! Crayons and markers are helpful. Additional work or work for when there is nothing left is good!

Edited by 2J5M9K
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Bring your own bag of lesson plans -- I've seen WAY too many teachers leave insufficient lesson plans. You can bring things that are multi-level, educational, and not necessarily what they do throughout the usual day. Like: several decks of cards (they can play addition games like 99, Go Fish, even concentration), a story book that can easily be turned into a drama (bring a few props) . . . If you will be there several days you can even bring them a little treat (oranges . . .) If you maintain authority but are still fun then everyone will like. Act like you know what you're doing and they'll never guess that you don't :-)

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As a former sub and a former teacher, my main response is "Relax". The first days in a new school are the hardest as you learn proceedure. Once you learn proceedure and the kids get to know you, you will be ok.

 

Especially at first, if you have been stacked with duties like recess, lunch, bus and especially if you are the only adult on duty - let a principal know. That is a huge area of responsibility you can be held liable for if you are not fully aware of school rules and proceedures. Some teachers will trade duties like crazy so the sub can do all of theirs while thye are out. That is not fair to anyone. At one school district I worked in, it was also against teacher rules-substitutes couldn't have duties like that. Ask to make sure.

 

Don't make punishments ridiculous. There was one sub we used to have that would get angry with the kids and make then write 100+ sentences and such - in the 2nd grade.

 

Take your lunch and some extra cash. If you don't like the school food, you will want your own. Take $5 or so in cash in case they have a great teacher menu or you want to buy something out of the vending machines in the lounge. At one school, subs could eat free, at another all adults cost $5, and at a 3rd the cost was cheap but you had to eat what the kids ate.

 

If you are not accustomed to talking all day, take a covered mug or cup and fill it with ice water (if it is ok for teacher to take that in classrooms). You may get dry mouth.

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You've received several good tips.

 

I'll just add to be familiar with what the school you are working for does. In my case, if you hear the fire drill bell you do NOT go outside right away. We have to wait for an "official" ok on the announcements or we (teachers) get in trouble. This prevents the local riff raff from just pulling the alarm for fun.

 

We also have a computerized sub system, so signing up "on the spot" doesn't happen - which isn't to say one can't coordinate with a teacher to be on the system at the same time they're putting their request for a sub in!

 

I only do high school - occasionally 7th or 8th grade - and almost always math and science (since they're my forte). I always keep my class professional and it works very well. If you're too mean, older kids will "play" with you by acting out and watching you react - then bragging about it. If you're too permissive they'll walk all over you - and all over the hall, etc (and still brag about it). If you're reasonably strict, don't play favorites, and know what you're doing, the kids are almost always gems and fun to be with. I'm going on my 11th year now and absolutely love it!

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I have an interview with the middle school principal on Tues 9/7. I believe it's subbing for jr/high school only. I don't think I will do elementary.

 

You've all given me great tips! Thanks so much and keep them coming.

 

This is a new period in my life and it's all good but I still want to be well prepared and do a good job at whatever I do - substitute teaching included - even if it's only for a short time.

 

:grouphug:

Edited by MIch elle
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It's been 20 years since I subbed. I'm an elementary person, but the first place I had to sub was a high school. And the first class was the football team. So my advice for that type of class is to walk in, throw a copy of "Rolling Stone" on the desk and look them straight in the eye. Don't smile.

 

Every other grade is a piece of cake, I loved subbing.

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Two Things:

 

(1) A lot of subs "do something nice" for the kids because, if s/he were to do that for adults, those adults would then feel obligated to "do something nice" for her/him. This doesn't work with kids. They perceive it as permissiveness and will proceed to walk all over you.

 

(2) I always left detailed info/plans for subs, but not everyone does. (The absence may have been an emergency.) Bring with you something to keep those kids occupied just in case you need it. It is fairly easy to find generic lesson plans online that could be used in a variety of situations.

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