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Tip of the Week – Preparing for a Substitute

For the first time in weeks, you feel great. No sniffles, no head cold and no flu symptoms. You’ve served your time as a juror, so that’s off your plate. No family obligations, no ball games, no field trips scheduled. So you’re good, right?

Well . . . unexpected things happen and it’s best to be prepared for just about anything. I spent some time recently talking with a couple of newer teachers and one of the things they mentioned was that no one ever really told them what to do when they had to be out of the classroom.

Should you leave a note? Lesson plans? Perhaps an apology for future student transgressions?

So . . . while today’s tip may be a bit of a review for many of you, hopefully the following suggestions can help someone.

  • It may not always be possible or practical but computer-generated notes and lesson plans are much easier for your sub than those that are hand-written.
  • Leave specifics about your daily schedule, the names of fellow teachers and the names of any specialists or paras who work with your kids.
  • Leave information regarding any special routines of individual students.
  • A map of the school with the names of teachers written on their respective rooms is always helpful.
  • Provide the name of a teacher down the hall who the substitute can ask for help if anything unexpected comes up.
  • Don’t just say – “The kids can help, they know where everything is.” In your plans, be sure to include titles and authors of textbooks, any supplementary materials and specific page and chapter numbers.
  • Be sure to leave copies of all textbooks, answer keys and supplementary materials on the your desk.
  • Have a current seating chart available. Even better, use a word processor to create a simple chart that includes names and student photos.
  • It may not always be possible but try to include meaningful work for your students. They can sense busywork a mile away, often leading to class management issues.
  • We always have at least one kid we can trust. Leave the name of that student with your plans.
  • Be sure to leave any necessary keys for your room and desk. Make sure they are clearly labeled.
  • Note how the substitute can contact the office and use the phone. Will they need to know how to log-on to the computers and the school network? Leave the name of at least one kid who can be trusted to help operate any technology.
  • Did you remember to include emergency procedures information in your substitute packet? Tornadoes, fires, lock-downs?
  • Ask that the substitute leave a note about how the day went. Ask for feedback on your sub plans and how you might improve them.
  • Finally, find a way to thank your substitute. Substituting is not easy and the pay is never good.

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Have fun!

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