New Substitute in Need of Advice!!!

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by Mrs.J, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    Sep 18, 2008

    Hello everyone! :) I was just hired as an elementary substitute teacher, and I was wondering what general advice/tips you more experienced subs might have... I have absolutely no experience, so I could use any advice you can offer! :)

    I have an especially difficult time being assertive and showing the kids who's boss. :( I know I'll get better with more experience, but I'm in desperate need of advice when it comes to the general dos and donts on the first day...

    Also, does anyone know of any good books out there on substitute teaching techniques?

    Thank you all very much! I hope you're all enjoying the new school year!
     
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  3. SoReady2Teach

    SoReady2Teach Comrade

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    Sep 18, 2008

    My first tip would be arrive to the school at least 15 minutes before your supposed to so that you can enough time to look over the teacher's lesson plans for the day and make sure all the materials you need are ready to go. I always ask the team leader if I have questions about the lesson plan. I write my name on the board if possible and stand in the doorway so I can greet the students when they come in. If the teacher has classroom jobs assigned on a chart in the room make sure you know where it is and who is supposed to do what so students wont be asking to do things all day. Follow the teacher's bathroom and nurse procedures as closely as you can. I once let one child go to the nurse and the rest of the class had a sudden urge to go as well. You could make some business cards of flyers to leave for teachers to help them remember you in the future.
     
  4. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Sep 18, 2008

    http://stedi.org/subs/substore/handbooks.aspx

    This is the best handbook I've read. It contains tons of great tips. I happened to read the K-12 version, but I'm sure the K-8 is similar.
    I was able to read through it at a training session so I didn't have to purchase it. It's kind of pricey @ $24.

    I also noticed they have for sale on their website a CD on Classroom Mgmt.

    Also - try Amazon.com and do a search for Substitute Teacher - lots of books pop up.
     
  5. JadeCrane

    JadeCrane Comrade

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    Sep 18, 2008

    I like this book. There is quite a bit of helpful information in there.

    Don't be worried about the elementary kids... just fake it til you make it, so to speak. Pretend you are confident and calm... sell it that way - they will buy it. Definitely meet the kids at the door. STAY CALM. If they know how to rattle you, they will.

    I also took a substitute training course. Our local County College offers it once a month - it is a seminar. I can't imagine being a sub with no experience and without something like that. I would have been a raging ball of paranoia.

    Good luck. Just remember... you are providing a very valuable service. Chin up - head high. Work hard and people will grow to respect you.
     
  6. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Sep 18, 2008

    Janelle, I've always had trouble with the assertiveness thing too, but I finally hit on the perfect formula--I treat the school kids exactly the way I do my own kids--minus the hugs and kisses of course. I'm still a pushover, but that style just happens to work for me. I tried getting tougher, but that's not really me and the kids get so resentful that I can't get work out of them, so I've found that I can deal with extra noise as long as they get the work done.

    One thing that works extremely well to get classroom control immediately is to have some kind of thing for them to work on as soon as they get in. Most teachers nowadays assign bellringers, which should be done first thing in the morning, but if they don't, then keep a supply of fun little worksheets--kids really seem to like math color-by-number worksheets. You know, the ones with math facts that add up to a certain number and if so, color the flower pink type stuff. The reason for this is the kids come in, do the morning routine, and then settle in to your quiet activity while you figure out about attendance and lunches and such.

    Another piece of advice--if you need to show a movie or something, make sure you start it before school so if you have trouble, you can ask another teacher before school starts. No piece of equipment has ever worked for me the way it should. And, if your school has smartboards, google for a free tutorial on how to use one. Janelle you'll be fine--they'll love you.
     
  7. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Sep 18, 2008

    I don't know of any specific books, but feel free to browse your library & bookstores to find something that looks good. There used to be a discussion board entirely for substitute teachers, but that went out of commission this summer.

    DOn't forget to to to Google & type phrases such as, substitute teacher tips, techniques, etc.

    I, too am a softy & my physical appearance doesn't really intimidate kids at all. You may want to start off subbing for younger grades 1st, then work your way up. P.E. is nice too because at the schools in my area, you're never w/ the kids alone. You're w/ a grp of other PE teachers teaching a few classes together, so if you don't mind being outdoors & dressing more comfortably, try that too. And there's not really any lesson plans to follow because the other teachers will tell you what to do.

    You really should learn to be firm from the start of the day, so kids know who they're dealing w/. Even if it means being a little mean, yet you have to be ready to put a smile on your face in the next second.

    Good luck!
     
  8. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    Sep 19, 2008



    Thanks for the info!! About the flyers, can I leave them at any school as long as I'm employed in that district, or should I wait to leave them only at the schools I've already subbed at?
     
  9. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    I clicked on the link and it does look like a really helpful book... It IS a bit pricey though :( I'm definitely going to look on Amazon.com.Thank you so much :)
     
  10. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    This book looks great, thank you! I keep telling myself they won't know what I don't show, so I just have to ACT tough and, as you said, they'll buy it. I just have a hard time acting that way because it's not my nature, and I think my true personality will eventually start to come through... Thanks for the advice :) I will definitely use it! I hope I survive the first few assignments I get!! :unsure:
     
  11. SoReady2Teach

    SoReady2Teach Comrade

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    Sep 19, 2008

    I have only left the flyers at schools I have subbed at, but I dont see any problem with leaving them at any schools.
    I just realized at the time you replied to my post, I was doing recess duty running after a little girl (who has downs syndrome) because she didnt want to line up with the rest of the class. It was actually a little entertaining at first. :haha:
     
  12. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Sep 19, 2008

    OH, I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was a book for people who want to sub for middle school. I bought it and the advice was so bad that I took it back to the bookstore and complained. The worst advice he gave was to "walk" if things get too tough. Huh? So, my point is, there are some bad sub books out there. I've had some bad days, but I would never leave a classroom--if things get too tough, I'm calling security.
     
  13. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    Sep 20, 2008



    That's exactly the situation I'm in. I'm such a softy and my physical appearance, tone of voice, and facial expressions (I've been told by other teachers that I smile too much and that can be dangerous, hehe :)) don't exactly help children view me as an "authority figure." Thanks so much for the advice. I'm definitely going to practice being firm from the first day so they'll know I mean business.

    Thanks again!
     
  14. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    Sep 20, 2008



    That's exactly how I feel! Being "tough" feels awkward and it's very difficult for me because that's not the sort of person I am. But I hear from many teachers that I'll eventually learn to be that way in order to survive :) I hope I'll be able to stay as kind and patient as I usually am and still maintain control over the class.... Hopefully I'll be as lucky as you've been and it will work!

    Thanks so much for the support and encouragment. It REALLY means a lot to me because I've been going back and forth lately, debating about whether I should really pursue teaching, mainly because I feel I just can't handle the classroom management side of things. :( But then all the teachers I've worked with have told me I was made for this profession because I have the genuine compassion and warmth required to teach, and all the kids I've worked with have loved me, so I just keep telling myself it'll be okay. I hope I survive...

    Thanks for the helpful tips, Stepka! I'll definitely be using them!!
     
  15. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    Wow, I'll be sure to steer clear of THAT book!! Thanks!
     
  16. JadeCrane

    JadeCrane Comrade

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    Sep 20, 2008

    Janelle - there are different styles of classroom management. You don't have to be a class-A biotch to be successful in the classroom. Some teachers garner respect because of their quiet, gentle strength. Children can respond to that as well - many will work hard for you because they do not want to disappoint you. They WANT you to be pleased with their efforts. Don't let anyone tell you you have to be a snarly witch to control a classroom. It just isn't so.
     
  17. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    Sep 21, 2008


    THANK YOU!!! You don't know how wonderful that is to hear! :)
     
  18. JLW

    JLW Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2008

    :2cents:

    -Arrive as early as possible to get your bearings and locate any lesson plans, attendance, materials, etc. I've found with less organized teachers and outright slobs that these vital materials may not be in the classroom, and might have to be supplied by a harried secretary with little time in the mornings.

    -If you have attendance lists, study the names and try to identify each kid by name as best you can. Usually fixating on a couple of kid's names you can easily remember fakes it enough to where the rest of the class thinks you remember their name too. This is kind of unfair, and not something teachers should normally do, but your first order of business is crowd control; second order of business is teaching. Sad but true.

    -I institute a rule right off: "If you have a question, comment, complaint, or outburst, raise your hand first. You are entitled to expression, but it must be channeled in a reasonable way to prevent the class from degenerating into chaos".

    -(This will likely be controversial, and is purely my take on a bad situation) If the lesson plan is crap, don't use it and do something else. I do this from time to time in really bad classrooms. Failing to follow a bad lesson plan from a bad teacher is the lesser evil than having a class erupt and end up calling in the riot squad.

    As an example: I was given in an inner-city environment an essay lesson plan instructing the kids to write for AN HOUR about where they pictured themselves in TEN YEARS TIME. This was the most ignorant lesson plan I've ever tried to use; these environments are fundamentally characterized by students being unable to picture a future for themselves, and I had six periods of this? After the first class went crazy I dumped the lesson plan in the circular file and worked on other subjects for essays and took the work home with me without showing it to the teacher or staff. Some of the stuff was really good.

    -Do what you need to do to get through the day. Do what you can, but it will be obvious if the teacher is together and in control. If the lesson plans are structured, sensible, and logical, you're good to go; if you get a borderline illegible note on loose-leaf paper reading, "Have the students read quietly" (happened to me), you're going to have to think of something.

    -When in doubt, locate anything the kids have worked on before and review. Review, review, review. It can't ever hurt to review. I do that a lot too.

    -Have the kids read out loud in class from texts or books. They are far less likely to disrespect each other than you: make another student the focus of attention and they'll behave better.

    -Remember, again: your job is to make it through the day with a minimum of fuss, accomplishing as much as you can with the material you have to work with. I don't sweat it if everything does not get done to the letter. I just don't. If a teacher expresses disappointment about all their stuff not being accomplished, I simply tell them to file a negative report. You're not the employee of the individual teacher, you work for the district itself. Any interaction about work performance is handled through the main office, not by the subjective view of a single teacher.

    Good luck!
     
  19. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Sep 21, 2008

    I had my first day ever on Friday and this is what I learned ...

    Try to have fun! They don't expect you to be perfect, you're a sub - not the regular teacher.
     
  20. Mrs.J

    Mrs.J Companion

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    Sep 22, 2008

    To Special-t and JLW:

    Thank you VERY much! I really appreciate you taking the time to give me such detailed advice! Your tips are absolutely invaluable to me!! I'm going to keep all these things in mind and I know they'll come in handy when I finally start subbing! Thanks again and good luck!!
     
  21. dkaree

    dkaree Rookie

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    Sep 22, 2008

    Handbook for Hassle Free Subbing

    Substitute Teaching by Barabara Pronin is a great read! Its subtitle is A Handbook for Hassle-Free Subbing, and it does indeed work as a handbook. It has 4 parts: ABC's of Subbing; In the Classroom on Your Own; A Bag of Tricks (over 70 pages of ideas from timefillers to indoor sports) and Where Do I Go From Here?. It's an easy read, filled with antecdotes, suggestions from other subs, and an especially interesting section of responses from students concerning subs, responses from teachers concerning subs, and responses from subs concerning subbing. I just got it this summer and really haven't spent much time with it. Your request inspired me to pick it up again......and I couldn't put it down. I believe you will find it quite helpful.
     

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