What can I do?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by K-5_teacherguy, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. K-5_teacherguy

    K-5_teacherguy Companion

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    Mar 9, 2018

    I teach first grade and have a pretty tough group this year. I have all the reading intervention kids in the grade level and no co-teacher. They are needy! I am at the point with them where things run very smoothly, they know my expectations and I very rarely have any kind of issues, despite some of their challenges.

    However, when I have a substitute things seem to completely fall apart. To be fair, I think it's really just a few kids that get things moving in the wrong direction, but the last few times I've been out I have come back to really discouraging sub notes. I realize with a sub things are going to be a little off for the younger kiddos, but the rest of my teammates do not have this problem with their classes when they are out. What can I do? I have tried talking with specific kids who usually struggle the day before I leave, to give them a heads up. I've tried emailing a few select parents, asking them to talk to their child the night before a sub. And obviously I've tried rewarding the ones who do behave (which is most of them!) I have a few more required PD days/meetings before this year is over, and I really want my substitutes to have good days with my class. Is there anything you have tried with your class that has worked to improve substitute behavior? Please help!
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Mar 9, 2018

    One clue might be that most of your class is in reading intervention. The substitute might subtly and unconsciously be expressing shock at the students current level of performance. This in turn could induce nervousness on some of the students which could lead to a small period of misbehavior, the substitute cracking down a bit harder on the sudden misbehavior, and this producing more nervousness; in other words, a misbehavior cycle develops. Especially first graders at a low reading performance level who are probably struggling in language communication due to lack of exposure earlier in life might be prone to express themselves or react kinesthetically; also, a substitute who overreacts and enforces longer periods of "sitting up straight" or "sitting still" might induce muscle tension that the students need to relieve through extra movement.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  4. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    As a former intervention specialist, I was often out due IEP meetings and assessment and had a wide range of subs - some were great and others would do almost nothing. So, I usually had my students do fun things that reinforced what they had learned with me. Since I had developed tons of reinforcement activities for all of my lessons, I just had to pick out a few of these for the sub to use - fortunately, many of them were in a multimedia format and were easily accessible on the computer or iPad.

    Here's a specific activity that can be adapted for any grade, but works especially well for primary: go online and find grade-appropriate music with the lyrics. I found that even my 4-5 graders responded well to familiar songs like Old MacDonald! The kids loved singing along with the videos which were conducive to helping to create a fun karaoke session. Select specific songs with links for the sub to use. Encourage her to play favorites 2-3 times so that students can practice reading the lyrics that appear on the screen. You can even mute the sound and see if students are willing to sing without the music! This would encourage them to read the lyrics.

    (For those who provide reading intervention for older students, the same activity can be done with contemporary songs and lyrics found on YouTube - just watch out for inappropriate language.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  5. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Something I'd do myself is have the lyrics on the board and the students would take turns dividing a chosen word into syllables. They especially got a kick out of dividing 1 syllable words, which of course consisted of walking up to the board, choosing the word, and not drawing any lines, just sitting back down again. I might also recommend popular songs from the 40's and 50's.
     
  6. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Mar 10, 2018

    Us subs can make some really anxious and I think it's great that you're giving them a heads up. Maybe it would help to know some of my tricks when I realize I'm in similar classes as a sub. ? Teachers, please don't get mad, but I have been known to change calendar time. Out of all the blocks in a day, the calendar time (if your class has it) is when I can really convince a class I'm an idiot. If I add an attendance block before a ones straw or vice versa...if it's out of the same exact order the teacher usually does it, I can loose their trust. Some classes bend well and roll with it. But, some students in K-2 get really upset about it. In tough classes, I've been known to briefly mention the date and then read a book to them instead. A read aloud can be very calming to the class and a sub. It's a time when most students really do well with expectations. So, if I'm in a class I know has a lot of anxious souls, I'll do a quick read aloud first thing. And, if things get tense, I'll do another. In classes with students like you mentioned, I also spend a little bit explaining what we're going to do for the day. Us adults know most of the day will stay in the same exact order. But, the anxious little ones can be known to worry I don't know about lunch, recess, etc. So, a quick review of the day's plan is good and it may help to work that into your plan.
     
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  7. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    In my 2nd post, I'd forgotten we were discussing first graders (when I mentioned my 3rd grade syllable activity). Of course, the activity could be modified to search for letter sounds or phonograms, or other such searches.

    I kept a sub-file of emergency lessons, if what I'd planned didn't work out or if per chance I was unable to leave plans. In my sub-file, I kept several books to read aloud. I agree--a read aloud is always a workable and highly beneficial option.
     
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  8. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Mar 10, 2018

    When I was a sub, I found that "fun" activities left by a teacher led to quite a few behavior issues. The kids would be silly and push their normal boundaries. Low-key, calm activities with choices for the substitute work well, in my experience.
     
  9. MissScrimmage

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    I love this! As a sub I always did this, and as a classroom teacher, I did this with my students the day before the sub arrived. I'd tell them who was going to be coming in as a guest teacher and then we'd talk about how he/she might do things differently, but that was OKAY because recess and lunch would still happen at the same time and they would all go home at the same time.

    To the OP, I've been there. One year I had THE CLASS and they ate every sub alive... including retired teachers with 30-40 years of teaching experience. Once they were so awful, I had them all write apology notes to the sub. And for the ones that said they hadn't done anything, I still had them make a nice card for the sub. It was our authentic writing for the day. I left really tight plans with lots of choices for the sub and just prayed no one got hurt.

    I always used a classroom marble jar, so I gave the sub free reign to add as many marbles as he/she deemed necessary and appropriate. The key was EVERYONE had to be on task and doing their best. Maybe starting something like that just on days you'll be away - and if there's a certain # of marbles in the jar when you get back, the class gets a reward? The key will be the sub has to actually remember to add marbles!

    Are you expecting the sub to do any intervention while you're away? If so, perhaps leaving easier reading and writing tasks so everyone can be successful with the work is necessary? It's a fine line - because you don't want to change the routine too much, but depending on your structure, sometimes centers just aren't worth it for the day.
     
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