Questions about being a substitute teacher.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Onihi, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. Onihi

    Onihi Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2019

    Hello everyone,

    I'm new here and new to teaching so I have a lot of questions. I'm currently in the process of going through an alternate route certification program, and I've gotten sub-certified and I'm trying to get work as a substitute in the meantime. I'd really appreciate any and all advice and information more experienced teachers and substitute teachers are willing to share. This is going to be slightly long so I'll break it up into sections. If you only feel like answering one or two of the questions, that's fine too!

    1. Getting work as a substitute. I've been in the system for my district for a week and I have not seen or been contacted for a single subbing position. I've signed up for subassistant and I'm still not getting any jobs/alerts. I've read that many teachers/schools have preferred sub lists and new subs have a hard time getting calls. Is there anything I can do about this? Is there someone I can contact within my district to get my name out there? Has anyone here been in the same position and if so, what did you do? Also, can I prioritize sub positions that are more aimed towards my strengths and what I plan to teach in the future (math) over others?

    2. Teaching the class. I've done a lot of reading about what makes a good substitute, and from everything I've read, it seems that following the teacher's lesson plan to a T is what most teachers want. But I've also read that sometimes teachers do not leave very good lesson plans, and sometimes, when absences are last minute, there are no lesson plans at all. What does one generally do in that situation?

    3. Managing the children. Any advice on dealing with the kids? I know substitutes generally get more flack from students since they think there aren't going to be repercussions for it. What strategies are there for dealing with that? Does this differ much by age group?

    4. As a sub, what experiences/advice do you have that I haven't asked about. For those of you that have been subs, I'd love to hear about your experiences and what advice you might have for me.

    5. As a teacher, what are you looking for in a sub? For those of you that are full-time teachers, what advice do you have for me as a sub that would make me more desirable for teachers to contact in the future?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  3. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jan 22, 2019

    I should have said. If you are lucky to work in a well resourced school then 'borrow' resources that can be used when you go to a less fortunate one. It's not theft, it is more like a Robin Hood thing.
     
  4. Onihi

    Onihi Rookie

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    Jan 22, 2019

    Thanks! I will definitely put together a bag of stuff. I'll look into putting together back up plans. In the U.S. (at least in my state) we do have to get approved by a district so I can't just go around to multiple districts without doing a lot of paperwork, however, you gave me an idea. I can probably contact private schools and make connections there.
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 22, 2019

    It’s stealing and it will get you uninvited back when the regular classroom teacher discovers materials have gone missing.
     
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  6. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jan 23, 2019

    Sorry, you are right. I forgot that in the US the teachers pay for many of the resources. In the UK it is different in that the schools provide all paper, exercise books, glue sticks etc. Even white board markers come from a central stock. Teachers are not expected to provide them.
     
  7. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Jan 23, 2019

    I'm kind of willing to bet it's not exactly legal in the UK either, even if it's not exactly the sort of thing that you'll get thrown in jail for...
     
  8. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jan 23, 2019

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jan 23, 2019

    Even for the things provided by the schools we are limited on the supplies, so I would still be quite unhappy to return to my room to discover that my supplies had gone missing. We are given a supply budget for the school. It is not unlimited.
     
  10. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jan 24, 2019

    Actually as a supply teacher (sub) I see myself more like this
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Jan 24, 2019

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
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  12. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jan 24, 2019

    Surely
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Jan 24, 2019

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  14. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    Jan 25, 2019

     
  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 26, 2019

    As far as "stealing" resources: you can "steal" rasources that are not things. I used to make a note remembering or even writing down certain things I've seen in classrooms, such as a unique or new (at least to me) behavior management system, or beginning of class routine, or even certain signs on the wall (I would take pictures of those)

    - leave notes to the teacher. Always start with thanking them having you in their class. Never ever complain. Do not call the kids bad or horrible, just matter of factly describe how it went, and use your words carefully. You can say you had a hard time getting them to do their work or follow diections, but don't say it's a horrible class, etc. Once I found a note on the desk from the previous sub (I guess the day before) and it was so negative, all she did was coomplain about the horrible children. yes, I read it. The kids were a handful but not horrible and I would never say that.
    - if you want to sub again, TELL the teacher ! they don't know, so if you tell them you'd love to be back, if they like how you did things, they will keep you on this list.
    - make business cards and leave them with the note. Leave 2. On your business card note if you have a masters and or your credential or if you're in the process. Often substitute teacher don't want to become teachers, they have a bachelor and it's just a job. Most teachers prefer someone who is / will be a teacher.
    - eat lunch at the teacher lounge and engage in conversation of appropriate but don't take over. Don't bring up work unless they ask, often teachers don't want to talk about their day during lunch. Ask them if it's ok to leave business cards. Often they have a bulletin board.
    teacher lessons:
    - yes, try to do everything asked. Teachers often leave way too much work to be done just to make sure you don't run out of work and then there's too much down time. I just wish they would tell you that. So when I got a sub, I would leave a note on what I expect to be done and what are extras they can do. Definitely note everything that was or was not done.
    - find a way to stretch out the lesson if you need to. Sometimes teachers leave too little.
    You can turn a reading into a discussion, journal writing, (reflection, opinion, etc). This can take up 5-10 minutes and sometimes that's all you need.
    - it is a good idea to have some lessons with you all the time just in case the teacher called out last minute and there is nothing left. I was subbing high school so I at least had some great controversial topics with me to turn into a discussion, persuasive paragraph or even persuasive essay. Obviously this wouldn't work with math, but you can usually find a math text book and assign problems. But you can always have them write about something relevant to the subject, global warming, something with animals, etc. Having the students do something (and learn) and keep them under control is better, than nothing.
     
  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Jan 26, 2019

    1. Getting work as a substitute. This is the toughest one, because you have to wait for them to call you. When I first started subbing I made myself available to more districts. Within a relatively short time I cut back to one main district, a strong second, and a much weaker third - period. They were all within 6 minutes of my home. I agree that once called, if you enjoyed the classes, share with the teachers. After a while you get tired of who did what wrong in a tone that sounds like you hope to never set foot in that class again. When you get a chance to help out above and beyond, do it. It never hurts to get to know the school secretary, because if you live close, and they know it, you may get the sudden calls when a teacher has to leave after arriving, etc.

    2. Teaching the class. Yes, when possible, follow the teacher's lesson plans to a T, even if it is busy work or a movie. However, it helps to have a little Mary Poppins in you, where you can think on your feet, maybe use personal experiences to beef up a weak lesson, or fall back on your strong suit. I used to have a book to read aloud and Brain Quest cards in a couple of grade levels in my bag at all time. It was often the difference between a glowing report about cooperative classes vs. classes gone wild. I only subbed through 8th grade, and eventually I concentrated on MS. Know your audience and be prepared to meet them at their center of interest to a certain degree.

    3. Managing the children. Every sub develops tricks of the trade. Sometimes I would put a name on the board with no explanation, never breaking my stride in the lesson. More often than not, these were the students who were doing everything right. On some days it was my trouble makers. Repeated trouble makers just silently saw tally marks go up next to their name, but no break in what I was doing. Because I did sub in the same district a lot, over time the kids could figure out which was which, and that is just consistency. I was never afraid to praise, but much slower to threaten consequences I couldn't guarantee. Once again, I would try to have something in my bag of tricks to fill gaps, which markedly cut down on negative reports

    4. As a sub, what experiences/advice do you have that I haven't asked about. Go the extra mile without complaining. I would pick up a class where a teacher needed to attend an IEP meeting that was going over projected time without a whimper. I would make sure that if I had duties, I was prompt and where I needed to be. I always made sure to leave a note, with as many positives as possible. I would make sure that all papers/work were paper clipped together so that no student could claim the sub lost their work. I never borrowed supplies off a teacher's desk, even carrying my own pens and extra pencils. I would try to at least straighten up the room before I dashed out the door. Teachers notice. Find out how to use the DVD player, smart boards, speakers, do the lunch count and attendance promptly, and in any way possible, make the teacher's reentry to the classroom less stressful. Over time, learn names of staff, writing them down for yourself if you have to. A smile and use of their name is better than not having a clue who they are.

    5. As a teacher, what are you looking for in a sub? I admit that what I hope for in a sub is an honest attempt to get the work done that I have left or sent in. If that's not going to happen, let me know why. Because I work in an all SPED population, I do need to know who acted out, who challenged authority, who left the room without permission, who riled up the rest of the room. I would prefer that you stay out of my personal snacks, since there will only be a couple at any given time. They are in a locked drawer for a reason. If any student was terrible, let me know if you wrote them up the day of. Don't use write ups as idle threats. If some of my students were wonderful, let me know you wrote a positive write up for them. That way I get to brag on them and recognize their effort. I know my students won't be the same for you as for me, but it will help if you get a feel for what I hold them accountable for and don't be gullible enough to believe everything students tell you. Call their bluff, call the teacher next door. As soon as the students know you have verified what I would do if there, you have a better chance at being effective in my classroom.

    FYI, I loved subbing. Because I narrowed the age range that I was most comfortable with, I was in my element. If you have strong suits, use them. I never understood subs who would come in and read the paper and assume they had done a good job. Don't sub if you don't really like kids.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
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  17. showmelady

    showmelady Companion

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    Feb 11, 2019

    I have been subbing for over six years and first, let me tell you that I LOVE THE JOB!

    1. getting work. Where I work the subs are employees of the school district, but the assignments are done thru an outside source. Teachers post their needs, , sometimes with specific info and mostly not. The outside source then contacts subs in the district to attempt to fill the assignments. Some assignments are posted in advance of need, and others are sort of 'emergency', like if the teacher wakes up sick and cannot work that day. The assignments are posted on a web site and I can look at those upcoming and accept assignments in the 'future (I currently have assignments two months in advance) Also, teachers can request 'preferred' subs, and I do get some of those, as several teachers ask for me particularly. I prefer short term (the longest term I have ever done was two weeks and one day, music, and by the end of that time I was totally SICK of Mary Poppins) LOL

    2. Most times, when the assignment is in advance, teachers leave a detailed lesson plan, from what times each segment of the day is (maybe one page) to detailed sub plans that can be several pages long. (I ALWAYS try to be at the school at least a half hour before the designated time, to give me time to go over the lesson plan). In emergency absences often the teacher has a standard absence lesson plan to follow, or sometimes other teachers in the grade group take care of seeing that I have a plan. Mostly, teachers leave quite a bit of work, enough to keep students busy and on task. If there is little work, I can always find something on the internet that is in line with items on a short lesson plan (for example, for science and learning about arctic animals recently, I found a couple of NatGeo videos for the students and we talked about the info they gained from them). One thing I ALWAYS expect to have is an accurate class roster, and an accurate dismissal schedule! I want to know exactly who I am responsible for and exactly how the kids get home!

    3. Managing the children. I usually try to stay with assignments in elementary (up to 4th grade) but I have subbed in middle school and high school. My policy to manage the students is simple. I AM THE BOSS. They do NOT run the class. I make myself familiar with the general rules of each school I go to, and ask about teacher expectations. But my word is LAW. I do NOT argue with the students. We follow the teacher's plans as closely as possible. If I find that a student is not wanting to do as told I will sometimes try to make that student my 'helper' and that often works. But regardless, if the students do not follow directions they are aware that I will leave notes for their teacher, or if the teacher has left directions for discipline, I follow them. In all the years I have subbed I have only had to write an office referral three times. I hated even doing that, but some behavior issues cannot be ignored (like the time a student pushed me, or the time I found a toy gun in one of the kids backpacks)

    4. Other advice? Engage the kids. They all have something to contribute, and often their contributions are hilarious, or heartbreaking. Show the kids that you care for them. For one student I have been supplying (periodically) some art supplies because he is an outstanding artist. Sometimes I give them materials, and I collect backpacks for those who do not have them. I keep a supply of pencils (I can replenish it all the time, just with the pencils I find on the floor in the halls) I give them paper, notebooks, and STICKERS. Kids love the stickers. I have a ton of them I found at the Goodwill store! Cost me about .50, and have enough for quite a while. But another piece of advice is, if you don't really like subbing, don't do it. The kids know if you are not happy and they respond. That makes you and them unhappy and unproductive.

    5. I have not really asked the teachers what they look for in a sub, but since many of them ask for me again, it must be what I am doing.

    I love the kids. Some I first met 6 years ago are now in middle school and high school, but when I see them at the Walmart or at a restaurant they still say hi. Some even run up and give me hugs.

    Hope you get the jobs and enjoy them. It is very rewarding.
     
  18. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Feb 15, 2019 at 8:13 AM

    1. Most of the teachers left very detailed lessons, but like you mentioned sometimes jobs were last minute with few or vague lesson plans. Generally the other teachers in the building were wonderful about helping me get settled and answered any questions I had. Use the other teachers in the grade level as a resource. They can probably tell you about the routines of the room, recess times, lunch and attendance procedures, etc.
    2. I always brought some activities with me that would work for most any elementary room (kindergarten was tricky) such as flash cards for playing Around the World, a Koosh Ball or something similar for reviews, a picture book appropriate to the grade (generally I grouped books as K-2 or 3-5) that I could read to them and we could discuss. This was always a hit with the kids, and the questions were to help them build their comprehension.
    3. Set YOUR rules at the start of the day, but keep them general. I had five. Follow directions quickly. Be flexible-I will follow the schedule as closely as possible, but I won't to everything exactly as your teacher does it. Check in with me personally, and wait for a response, before leaving the room PERIOD. Every teacher has different restroom procedures, but I needed this for safety purposes because I didn't know the kids. Be respectful, don't argue. Make your teacher proud. I told every class that I would be leaving a detailed note letting the teacher know how the day went, what we got done (or didn't) who was helpful and responsible (and who wasn't).
    4. Technology doesn't always work, and even when it did there was usually a password or something I needed to log in to the system. Usually I could use the teacher's I was subbing for if they left it, but sometimes I didn't have access to the technology so I had to come up with another idea on the fly. Try to keep close to the topic they wanted covered. Ask kids what they know about the topic, have them share ideas, write them on the board, have them ask new questions about the topic, and take a "field trip" to the library to look up the answers. I also asked the kids to help me figure out the technology if I didn't know what was going on. They loved being the experts.
    5. BONUS TIP This worked for me, and I used it at every job, but if it's not for you that's OK. I always carried a couple of baby name books to every job. Since high school I have been fascinated with names, their origins, meanings, etc. So after I went through my rules and expectations I'd pull out the books and ask the kids who knew what their name meant. Some did. Most didn't have a clue. Sometimes kids would tell you why they had been given their name. Cue the books. I'd ask who wanted to know more about their name and look up a few (or whatever I had time for). The kids loved it. It helped form a relationship between us which means they felt a little more important and were more likely to buy into my rules. It gave me a chance to cement names with faces a bit better. I also got a good look at behaviors and could pin point who I would need to keep a close eye on. This was one time they never tried to lie about who they were.
     

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