Monday, October 22, 2012

so you're going to be gone...

Welcome back from Education MN break! I hope those of you that attended the conference learned some helpful tips, strategies, or lesson ideas, heard some inspiring speakers, and/or enjoyed the day with some teacher-friends swapping stories. I certainly enjoyed the conference this year. And for those of you that spent the time recovering from a frenzied fall, I hope you are feeling refreshed and ready to go.

Fall is a wonderful time of year - changing leaves, cooler temps, apple cider and pumpkin pie. It's also the time of year that sickness can knock you sideways, particularly those of you new to teaching. And when you're really sick, though it is often more work to be gone than just to come in, you aren't doing you or your students any favors. Last December, I shared some advice for planning for and being a substitute teacher. And there are a few additional suggestions to help you in the event that you need to be gone from school.

Of course you need to have detailed lesson plans. It helps to have things typed out, just for ease in reading them as a sub. Remember, your sub won't know what W-12 AB means, even if you know exactly what lesson that refers to in your math guide. So, err on the side of extra explanation as you write out your plans. I also never left photocopying for the sub - you just never know what might happen. Whenever possible, I had the necessary copies already made, ready for the sub. Of course, emergencies come up, but when possible, try to have everything all ready to go.

When planning for a sub, have this info readily available:
  • a phone number where you can be reached (if possible)
  • seating charts (with photos of kids, if possible)
  • key contacts (main office, attendance, nurse, as well as the nearby teachers)
  • evacuation plans for fire drills, lockdown procedures, tornado plans 
  • a map of the school (in case someone is really new to the building)
  • a master list of the weekly pull-out schedule (i.e. which students leave when and where do they go?)
  • daily/weekly schedule and any regular routines (attendance, morning meeting, advisory, lunch/recess, spelling etc) 
  • any additional duties (hall, recess, bus etc)
  • any class rules and consequences
  • have pens, pencils, bandaids, paper clips post-its, hall passes all readily available (perhaps in a plastic bin on top of your desk, so the sub doesn't have to dig through drawers)
I kept this info on a clipboard labeled "Substitute Teacher Info" and had it on my desk, just in case something were to happen and that info needed to be used.

I also had "in case of emergency" activities available. Games or other activities that the substitute could do if they had extra time or if students finished really early. In my school, we had to develop an emergency sub folder with activities that were independent and could be completed in the event that something happened that kept you from even being able to complete emergency sub plans. Something to think about putting together. Even in these situations, your colleagues can usually pull something together (at least, I did that for colleagues!) so that plans can be somewhat linked to what the students have been working on, but as they always say, you just never know.

What are some ways that you plan for a substitute?


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