Saved by the Sub


I’ve come to the conclusion that schools are like giant Petri dishes. That image may be gross to some, but the truth is that bacteria flourish in school environments! No matter how many times I clean my desks with antibacterial wipes, those pesky germs still manage to invade my classroom.
As a result, I’ve learned ways to make my substitutes successful and I’m happy to share a few tips:

1. Use classroom routines and keep templates for your substitute plans. It’s much easier to write plans and prepare your students for your absence when they have daily routines. For instance, on Mondays my students always begin with journal writing. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they start with silent sustained reading, and on Wednesdays my juniors begin with an SAT warm up; finally, my classes always correct editing errors on Fridays. I have a folder saved on my computer with sub plans saved by each day of the week and the routines are already included; I just have to add the day’s details.

Here's a snapshot of routines from my plan book.

2. Leave a list of reliable students and those with special needs. Besides leaving the customary rosters, seating charts, and other school procedures, giving your substitute the names of students they can depend on helps them know which students they can trust. It’s also important to let them know about the students who have health, learning, and emotional needs, so they won’t be surprised with special situations. 
"We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race."
3. Keep a stash of classroom friendly DVD’s and video guide questions for those emergency situations and high fever nights. In the ELA classroom, there are innumerable videos that fit with classroom content. Two of my favorites include The Dead Poets Society and The Great Debaters. Both make fabulous connections to American Literature! 


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4. Provide your substitute with keys to your lessons. Many substitutes don’t have the content knowledge of the classroom teacher (that’s why YOU’RE the teacher), so providing the answers to handout questions will greatly improve their success. The majority of my resources include detailed keys and samples, which make them perfect for keeping students on track with content learning. 

5. Have a trusted colleague check-in with your substitute. I have several dependable colleagues in my department who can help my substitute boot-up the computer or start the projector. It just takes a few minutes and makes the day go much more smoothly for the substitute and students.

If you feel ill, stay home and let the substitute take care of your students! I hope these tips help you relax and reserve your energy for getting better.

Thanks to hosts to Darlene Anne Curran (The ELA Buffet) and Pamela Kranz (Desktop Learning Adventures) for hosting our monthly Secondary Smorgasbord  blog hop event! 

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1 comment

  1. I love the way you mix up your daily routines...just enough to engage and settle students. Adding these routines to your sub plans is a fabulous idea!

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