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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to make life easier for our substitue...

Hey y'all!

Warmer weather approaches us and some of us might want to take a personal day.  However, we don't like leaving our class with the sub and chances are, we don't like what we return to even more.

 Most of us are required by our school administrator to put together an emergency lesson plan for subs in the event we must be absent and do not have time to put together a more current lesson plan to go along with what students are learning. This is what I call "busy work". Inside the folder we leave subs, we include our roster, seating chart, and a note telling the sub to leave names of anyone who gives the sub difficulties and we will take care of it when we return. As a teacher who has prior experience with day-to-day subbing, let me tell you, the plans the teacher left me are generally a joke. It had worksheets or reading assignments for students to do - assignments that with the teacher lecturing and conducting class may have taken the entire block, but with just the students, they can be done in 20 minutes or less. Sometimes, students know it is a joke and know teachers won't grade it so they don't do it at all. Substitutes do not have the same level of authority as teachers do, and students know this! Students also know the sub more than likely does not know their name and will take advantage of this tidbit. So WHAT can you do to make your classroom run more effectively in the event you are not there?


  • Leave your most updated seating chart If you leave the seating chart, the sub can announce that he/she is taking roll by seating chart and if they are not in their assigned seat, they are marked absent.  This helps the sub know who's name belongs to who in the event there is an issue. If you need seating charts, check out my packet of blank seating chart!
  • Leave constructive assignments Examples are: web-quest, project, assignment with a rubric and have the sub announce they only have that day to finish their assignment, it will count as X amount of test or quiz grades. If you think you've left enough, you need to double it - better to have too much than not enough and have your classes be loud and disruptive.
  • Leave your rules and procedures - for leaving the classroom to use the restroom, eating food in class.  Note any students who may need to be permitted to use the restroom at any time.  
  • Leave a list of students - good students and students that you believe may give the sub a difficult time. List tasks the "good" students may help the sub with, and inform the sub what they can do should the difficult students give the sub a hard time - who can the sub bounce the student to? How should the sub call the office if they need an administrator?
  • Leave a list of teachers  - the list of teachers should be teachers that can assist the sub - list one for each block, it would be smart to list a different one for each block (list the teacher for the block they have planning)
  • Leave writing utensils - students for some reason that I cannot understand, do not seem to have pens or pencils on them when it comes time to do their assignment.  If you leave a bag or box of pens/pencils out next to the lesson plan, the sub will not go through your drawers, students will not sit around doing nothing simply because they do not have something to write with.  It also does not hurt to leave paper with the sub in case students don't have their notebook.  It just eliminates excuses students use to not do the assignment.  
  • Leave your contact information - allow the sub to email you, or call you if you would like. If you build a relationship with your sub, you may be able to request him/her in the event you need to be out again.  Some subs leave notes, but not all leave their contact information when they do.  Be the one to open the line of communication!
The rest is in the hands of the substitute, if you do all of this, you have done your part.  If the substitute chooses not to do his/her job, and your class is disruptive and loud, you can relax knowing it was not your fault and the only thing you will need to do is discuss with your students how you were disappointed that they did not behave accordingly.

Another tip - does not hurt to go over expectations you have for your students in the event you are out.

Ms. Bergin