New Substitute Teacher Advice

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, Jan 20, 2017.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jan 20, 2017

    Hello everyone! I will be starting as a substitute teacher next week. My first assignment is a half day 5th grade classroom and I'm very excited. Next year I will be going to graduate school to become a middle school math teacher so I'm hoping that this will give me good experience.

    I was wondering if any teachers have any tips for new substitute teachers. I haven't gotten any instructions or lesson plans yet so I'm hoping they will be on her desk but I am worried for what to do if they are not. Has that ever happened to anyone?

    Also, what do teachers like to see from substitutes? Is it a good idea to write a note afterwards? Also, if the students have specials and I do not know where the classroom is, should I ask a student to lead the way or should I try to ask around before the day starts? My assignment starts at 8:25 so I am planning on getting there at 7:35-7:40. If anyone has any other advice that would be greatly appreciated.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Please do leave a note, and be honest in it. I hate getting notes that say "Everything went great!" when what I returned to was a literal open-air, visible-sky hole in the ceiling (true story) or when the sub tells me that 4th period was fine when I know that they were probably rude and disrespectful and almost certainly refused to do their work.
     
  4. Teachertimes

    Teachertimes Rookie

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    Definitely leave a note. With you already knowing the teacher will be out they will most likely leave plans on their desk. Also just follow the instructions left for you. If it says Timmy can't do xyz don't let Timmy do xyz.
     
  5. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    The districts I subbed in were really good about providing maps for subs - however, I say that knowing that I have yet to leave a school map for any of my subs this year (whoops). Asking around is fine; usually specials classes are pretty centrally located (at least in my experience) and easy to find. Otherwise I don't see any harm in letting the kids lead - which you can do without letting on that you don't know where you're going. Since it's best not to stand with the class line behind you anyway, you can say, "Alright, time for (whatever). Line up and head out," and then hang out around the middle of the line, monitoring and secretly following the class to wherever they're supposed to be. :D

    Sub plans are generally something that is easy to follow - I intentionally leave easy or filler activities on sub days (things my class can do without a lot of assistance from a sub who may not know my district's curriculum changes very well), and that was what I usually got as a sub as well. I only had a couple classes as a sub where the teacher emailed me lesson plans beforehand, and that was only because I'd been in the class enough that the teacher knew me, the kids knew me, and I was willing and able to TEACH a concept (thinking of a pre-algebra class specifically, for which I was requested regularly. Best middle schoolers ever.) Otherwise plans were always on the desk or laid out somewhere easy to find, materials were nearby or the students had them, and it was something I could teach/guide with minimal prep on my part.

    Just an extra note - you may want to check your district's policies on sub arrival times. You may not be able to get into the building as early as you like. The district I subbed in asked subs not to arrive more than 15-20 minutes ahead of our expected arrival time just because there likely wouldn't be anyone to let us into the building.

    Leave a thorough but concise note - the teacher doesn't need to know every single detail of the day, but do let them know anything important that happened - good or bad. I once subbed a 6th grade class that lost 2 field trips the day I was there because of something they did in art - the teacher came back to a stack of apology letters I made them write. XD So stuff happens, let the teacher know, but don't stress. The first day will go fast and it gets easier as you go!

    (I really loved subbing. It's a lot of fun once you get some good tricks under your belt and figure out what grades you click with!)
     
  6. Teachertimes

    Teachertimes Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2017

    If you like subbing for that class and wouldn't mind coming back, leave contact info.
     
  7. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jan 22, 2017

    Thanks for all the advice! I will definitely leave a note and check in on the substitute policies. The teacher I was supposed to sub for canceled the job so I am hoping that more listings will show up tonight or tomorrow morning.
     
  8. Education4all

    Education4all Rookie

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    Jan 22, 2017

    Be firm and keep the class under control. Your job is not to show you can teach a math or reading lesson, but that you can manage the class and maintain order while the teacher is away. However, you can get good practice teaching, but your priority is just keeping order for the day.

    Good luck
     
  9. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Jan 22, 2017

    Welcome to the world of subbing! I enjoy the variety of the subjects and grades. It's fun to switch hats and borrow a job for just a day. Subbing is also a great way to learn about your own preferences and style.

    For example, even in elementary some subs go in laying down the law with a snippy attitude. For me - kind, firm, respect may take a little more encouragement in the beginning, but it's less stressful for both me and the students. Plus, it seems more likely to still be effective in the afternoon. Raising your voice or giving attitude may get you instant silence at first, but it just causes them to act out, get louder and/or more testy later on. You get out of kids what you put in them.

    One biggie in elementary that is "common sense" and therefore rarely on plans - know your count and count them often. Once everyone's in, count them and then again every time you go to leave or return from recess/specials/lunch/etc. Don't lose one. :)

    With the upper elementary grades, if you get a sense that their teacher has a healthy classroom management style and they're pretty well controlled, you can just use the teacher as your consequence. Don't reinvent the wheel. They'll be more concerned about what the teacher will do than a sub. One option: have a stop watch and let them know you'll keep track of how long their behavior obstructs instructional time and that the total time will be reported to the teacher. It's up to the teacher if/what will be done about it. If they get too rowdy, start it, hold it up quietly, they will eventually shush each other for you, stop it, say thank you, tell them the time, and instantly continue. For some classes, this is all you need. It's nice when that's it. Nothing works all the time, though.

    Best of luck! I recommend trying each grade at least twice before deciding against it being for you. They can vary so much within the same grade. If it suits you, special ed at the elementary level is a great way to start as you likely won't be alone and you'll get to observe other teachers in action. So many subs won't take it, but I think it's usually a great day.
     
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  10. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jan 22, 2017

    ^
    Thank you for the advice! I actually received a job for tomorrow for special education as an instructional aide. I'm excited so I can observe a bit and also work with kids. I hope I do a good job :)
     
  11. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 22, 2017

    Be there early. This will give you enough time to find the classroom, read the notes, locate everything, turn on and try electronics that you are required to use, find other classrooms you might need, staff bathroom and give yourself some time to breath. I needed time to read everything twice, and I felt more comfortable if I looked over the story we've read, or math problems, etc.

    Leave the classroom clean and organized. If the students left a mess, clean it up. Better yet, have them clean it up. I was tired of picking up paper balls and small trash after some classes (middle school, 6-7 periods), so I quickly learned to use the last 3 minutes to have students pick up all trash around them, throw it away and push in their chairs. Next class came in, told them to look around, and that's how they will need to leave the classroom. Saved me 20 minutes of cleaning, at least.

    Definitely leave a note, and let them know if you would like to return.

    For marketing yourself and ensuring you get booked a lot:
    (if you haven't already), You should make business cards (you can get simple ones for very low price), and leave a few with your notes. This way if they teacher was impressed by you, he/she will be mentioning you to other teachers and can give them your contact info.
    You can also ask the front desk or other teachers if it's ok to leave some business cards in the teacher lounge. The business cards I had my name, phone number, and email address, stated that I had a teaching credential and had my Master's degree. I had a space for my sub id, It was
    "sub id: _____________" I handwrote my id, this way if they wanted to request me, they could use that in their subfinder software. I used a blank space, because I subbed in 2 different districts, and they had different sub ids for me, this way I could use the same card at any district.

    Eat lunch in the teacher's lounge. Be polite, friendly and smile, but don't be overwhelming. Don't try to control conversations, but chime in if appropriate. Say nice things or say nothing at all. Don't complain, even if your day is the worst day of your life with the class from hell. Introduce yourself, but don't make a big deal. In other words, be present, but not prominent :) I'm speaking from what I've experienced in the various teacher's lounges (myself as a sub or teacher), and saw how some subs would turn everyone off by their overbearing personality, or went unnoticed because they didn't say a word.

    Offer help if you have time. During your prep period, If you have one, don't just sit there and read a book, go up to the office and ask if they need your help, making copies, file, anything. Most of the time they will say no, but will remember you. And often it's the front desk trying to book a sub for an unexpected absence.

    Introduce yourself to your neighboring classroom teachers. One time I got another day to work, because the neighbor teacher saw how I lined up the class outside the door and let them know my expectations before they went in (go to your assigned seat, no gum, no electronics, etc). He told me this and said that now he might just take a day off and have me sub for him. And he did. This was in a rough middle school.
     
  12. talknteach

    talknteach Rookie

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    Jan 22, 2017

    Great advice! I subbed for two years before I got a permanent job. I would buy a high-interest book (I had one with Q and A about dinosaurs) and carry that with you to the jobs. That way if you do exhaust all the plans and the "extra work" teachers often leave, you've got something engaging to pull out. I would read a question, everyone would discuss it, and then I would read the answer. It was very popular and when I would return to a classroom they would request that book!
     
  13. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jan 24, 2017

    Thanks again for the advice! I had my first day subbing with middle school and it went well. It was only a little bit awkward since 2 classes were co-taught with a special Ed teacher. She just started the class and only talked to me to find out what the assignment is. I really didn't know my place in that class so I sort of sat/stood around and checked on kids a bit. Is that ok?
     
  14. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Yay - the first day is over. Congrats.

    Your concern about how you did means you probably did well. It sounds like a tricky situation, but you were able to observe and that's good. The reality is that no matter how comfortable you are with students, you're often a stranger to them. This can be a considerable factor in special ed. So, it's not abnormal for whoever is familiar to the students (and familiar with their unique qualities) to take the lead and for a sub to support as much as possible.

    If a lesson plan doesn't provide enough details regarding roles for the day, I often start joint assignments by flat out asking how I can best help and clarify responsibilities. I usually have to start the conversation. I often think teachers and paras have encountered enough wacky subs to first have their guard up around us. But, if boundaries are discussed and agreed upon from the start, it can help put all at ease.
     
  15. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    This is about how my first day subbing went, so don't worry about it! My very first day subbing was kindergarten and I'm SO thankful there was an aide in the room who knew what was going on, because I had no clue what I was doing. It got a lot easier after that first day though!
     
  16. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    I think it depends greatly on where you sub. I've never been thanked so much for teaching as I was when I subbed one of the middle schools in my local district. Sure you get some really crappy days, but I had a lot of great days subbing and I learned a lot about myself as a teacher and what I preferred to teach. I found out I actually love middle school, I'd probably be a decent MS math teacher, and in a suburban district I really enjoy upper grades. I love my second graders now, but it's my team that makes it worth it, not as much the students. I wouldn't teach upper elementary or middle school in my current district because there's a lot more attitude and behavior issues in urban districts, but in another district I might.

    Subbing can be hard, but I also found it very enjoyable when I had classes that fit with my personality as a teacher.
     
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  17. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This will really depend on where you are. We have our "duds", but most of our subs are great and we recognize that we could not be successful without them. Here, our subs must be qualified teachers and, in many areas, starting with day-to-day subbing is the only way to get a permanent, contract position.

    Sounds like the day went well for you, Ms. Holyoke!
     
  18. Mr Magoo

    Mr Magoo Comrade

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    Jan 25, 2017

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  19. DebbieinOH

    DebbieinOH Rookie

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    Hello,

    I am planning on starting substitute teaching in the next few weeks. I am a former first grade teacher (that taught 15 years ago). I am a little nervous going in the classroom again (as it won't be my classroom.) I am planning on getting back to teaching and think this is the best way to get my foot back in the door. I am certified PreK through Third Grade. I have only 4 more classes to get my Reading License and am planning on starting that in the summer. My goal is to be a Title I Reading Teacher. Any tips to calm my nerves would be appreciated before I start subbing. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  20. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Jan 25, 2017

    I'm in a similar boat. I don't know if it's the extra years or motherhood, but it seems much easier to be in a classroom now. You got this.
     
  21. DebbieinOH

    DebbieinOH Rookie

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    Thank you CherryOak :)
     
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  22. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jan 28, 2017

    Hi everyone! I had my third experience subbing yesterday. I was in a 2nd grade classroom and I actually enjoyed it more than middle school. I felt like I was "teaching" more and helping students because in middle school the students just had an assignment to do. One issue I had with 2nd grade was the students were whispering a bit during the spelling test and I was trying to dismiss them by table and it didn't do so well since multiple students got up. Other than that, the class was reasonably well managed but this is something I would like to improve on in the future. What happened was I said I will dismiss by table and one girl raised her hand to see if she could go and I accidentally said yes. I realized I should have done a silence cue and waited.

    I
     
  23. Secondary Teach

    Secondary Teach Companion

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    I sometimes wish that I could substitute, and leave behind some of the day to day tedious responsibilities that come along with my position. But my students do make it worthwhile and so do their compliments and their parents' compliments, and compliments by my admins.
    :)
     
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  24. DebbieinOH

    DebbieinOH Rookie

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    I am hoping once I start substituting, things will get easier. I should start in the next 2 weeks. Don't know why I am so nervous. I just want to do a good job.
     
  25. MrFrank35

    MrFrank35 Rookie

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    I started out subbing and it is challenging in ways that full time teaching isn't. Unless you are in a small school, you will likely see different groups of kids every time. They don't know you and you don't know them. Even though it's only for a day, you need to be structured and clear with the kids about your expectations and what they can expect for the day.
     
  26. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I taught a 4th grade and 5th grade class yesterday and it went much better. Not great but I felt more comfortable. I used hand signals to get attention and it worked. I like how in elementary there are more opportunities to teach the class. I definitely struggle with the aspect of a new class every day and I can't wait to have my own classroom.
     
  27. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This is a perfect time to start to keep a file or journal of things you see in the classrooms you visit--what you like, what worked, what didn't work. It will be an excellent resource to refer back to when you do get your own classroom.
     
  28. DebbieinOH

    DebbieinOH Rookie

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    Were you all nervous before starting? I am sure I will be more comfortable once I sub a few times. Like I said, I had my own classroom about 13 years ago. It's just that I am nervous going into someone else's classroom. I just want them to call me back and do a good job. Thanks everyone!
     
  29. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I had my first "negative" experience subbing. It was in a new school and for a special Ed aide. I was supporting a few students but mainly a student with autism. The general Ed teacher was rude and dismissive of my questions (but it got better as the day went on) and the office staff was also really rude. It's my first time in this school so I thought they would be more supportive. I may not go back here.
     
  30. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I was so so nervous and I've never had my own classroom. It has only been 2 weeks and I feel very comfortable now. :)
     
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  31. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I am not sure if it was just the one situation. But I felt so much more welcomed at the district I usually work in and no one had a problem with my questions over there when I just started. I was working with a special needs student for the day so I just wanted to make sure I was doing a good job and that her day would go as smoothly as possible.

    One thing that happened was that I was supposed to meet her and her mother in the lobby. I waited and couldn't find them (and I obviously didn't know what she looked like!) So I went to the main office and asked. They said, "Oh, they were here looking for you. You NEED to go find her," sounding annoyed. Their tone didn't make me feel comfortable to ask where the girl and her mother went. So I walked in the direction of the classroom and I saw them. The mother was very sweet and had no problem that we couldn't locate each other. At first, the teacher was rude but by the end of the day she was much more helpful. But the teachers in the other school were just so so much nicer and I felt more comfortable there.

    The problem is that the school that I had the bad experience in isn't on Aesop. The sub list employee calls substitutes personally. So, I am not sure about how I would get off the list or just not take jobs. I also don't want to write off a school due to a few people but I really didn't enjoy it.
     
  32. DebbieinOH

    DebbieinOH Rookie

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    Thanks Ms. Holyoke for saying that. Not that I want anyone to be nervous but I am glad I am not the only one that is nervous thinking about day 1. I think I will be starting Wednesday of this week. Wish me luck!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  33. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    I have been subbing (we call it supply) for a while now and things I have learned.

    Carry everything you will need such as White board markers, pens, pencils, ruler etc
    Have a small supply of paper/exercise books. I pick this up as I go along from school to school to replace stuff used..
    I have a flash drive full of possible resources in a variety of subjects. Again if I find a useful resource in a school where I sub I will add it to the drive. Likewise paper resources. If any are left for you then keep a copy in a folder, you never know when you might suddenly have to produce a rabbit out of the hat and extemporise a lesson.
    Always carry a lidded coffee mug and keep a supply of coffee/tea/milk and sugar with you as some schools will not provide these.
    Something I learned this week when I was asked to do a day in a primary school (4th grade) I am high school Science trained was to carry some PE kit as half way through the day I had to take a PE class!
     
  34. MetalTeacher

    MetalTeacher Companion

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    Feb 18, 2017

    Have you posted this story anywhere on these forums before?
     
  35. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  36. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Feb 18, 2017

    ^^^
    Wow I cannot believe that happened to you.
     

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