Teachers, how do you know a sub was great?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by bison, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. bison

    bison Habitué

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    The thread about preferred subs made me curious about how teachers know when one sub is excellent while others are so-so. Obviously, teachers are generally not in the room at the same time as a sub. I can imagine it's clear when a sub is awful and none of the plans are followed, there's no note, or something similar. It's the other times that I'm wondering about.

    For example, I was in a classroom recently where I had the chance to observe and help out when a sub was in the room. I thought she was great! Good control over the classroom, followed the plans and supplemented when there was extra time, fair with the kids, etc. When the teacher came back, the kids said she was mean and the teacher didn't seem to get any more input than that. She wasn't mean, just stricter than they were used to. I visited that class regularly, so I knew how the room ran on a daily basis.

    How does a teacher know who is a great sub that might end up on their preferred list? My own experience in this area is limited to special education, where there are always number of adults in the room. That isn't really the case in gen ed classes. Hopefully this can satisfy my curiosity while helping out some of the folks on this forum who work as subs. :)
     
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  3. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    There was a class that told their teacher that I was texting on my cellphone the entire time! I fear that substitutes are largely judged based on how the kids report them. I try to leave very good and professional notes, but that only does so much, I worry.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I know that a sub was good when I come back to a tidy classroom, a thoughtful note about how the day went, and generally good reports from my students. I don't really care if they thought the sub was "mean" or "nice", but I do care if they tell me that the sub fell asleep at my desk or referred to one of the students as "you little Mexican".

    (One of my students showed me a photo that he had surreptitiously taken of my sub last month. The sub was clearly completely asleep in my chair at my desk.)
     
  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    A lot of teachers told me that they know how to judge the kids' reactions. Just because the kids like a sub, doesn't mean he/she was great. That could mean that they were able to take advantage of that sub, got an easy and fun day, fun in a way that they got to get away with stuff they usually can't.
    Also when the kids say they don't like the sub, that could mean that the sub got them to work hard and it wasn't an easy ride as they hoped. Or it could be that it was a mean person.

    Most teachers know how to read between the lines, which kids to believe, etc.
    This is why it's good to leave notes for the teacher, because then the teacher has both sides of the story.

    One teacher last week asked one of the kids how things were in my classroom, as a sub (I was there was 3 weeks), how am I, etc. The kid said I was the only sub that makes them do real work. That I was the only sub that is like a regular teacher. That was the biggest compliment I could get.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :thumb:
     
  7. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Interesting, thanks! Caesar, I can't imagine much worse than photo evidence of something like that. No grey area there.

    Microbe, that's very unfortunate. Where would they get that idea? Were you given a chance to give your side of the story?

    Linguist, that seems to be the only way I can think of. Try to determine what is and isn't true from the kids and compare to the note. I think the class my example was in just wasn't the best to learn from. There were a number of "interesting" things that went on in there. I almost feel like I just need to forget it completely and think of OTHER classrooms and teachers I've seen instead. The compliment you got is awesome! At my previous job, I heard something similar and it felt awesome. However, I was a para so the teachers were usually there and able to see how I was doing.

    I'm curious how the teachers from the other thread who said they have a preferred list choose who gets to move from "good sub" to "preferred sub." Is your preferred list just pretty large and every good sub gets be on it?
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    My preferred subs tend to be the ones who have been in our school several years, know the climate, know all the teachers and admin, are reliable, follow my plans, maintain control...they leave notes, the kids are happy, my room is neat. I know these subs will execute my plan the way I've asked...they are 'naturals'...they 'get it'.
     
  9. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Good info, thanks!
     
  10. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Well, it was a high school class, first off. From reading the teacher's email, I got the very distinct impression that they had tried this story on her before and had gotten away with it.

    She in the end took my word over theirs, and they all had to take a pop quiz that they were meant to fail (what?!?). She bragged about how their grades all took a hit. I can see why they lied to her if the punishment was having their academic grades changed.
     
  11. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Also, am I supposed to clean up after the kids? I do tidy up things as best as I can, but without a push broom I can't really do much else. Some kids love leaving tiny little scraps of paper all over the floor.

    I remember this one high school class that left garbage everywhere in the classroom (ground candy into the carpet, left crushed soda cans on the floor, etc.). I asked them to clean it up and they refused, so I simply left their teacher a note about how they chose to trash the classroom and then chose not to clean up when asked.

    I feel a little guilty that I didn't clean everything up, but is that really my job?
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I wouldn't ever expect a sub to clean my classroom. When I said that I like to return to a tidy room, what I mean is that I want to return to my room the way I left it. I do expect a sub to remind students to clean up after themselves; if the students refused, then the sub should tell me that. I expect textbooks to be returned to the bookshelf, all my student supplies to be returned to wherever they belong, and my desk to be the same as I left it. I hate (HATE!) returning to find coffee rings and crumbs (GROSS!) on my desk.

    As an aside, food and drinks aren't allowed in the classrooms at my school. If I returned and found a bunch of candy wrappers and whatnot in my room, I'd view that as a classroom management issue. I expect a sub to be able to implement school rules, especially rules that I myself implement every single day. If there is a problem with one or two students being insubordinate, again I would just expect a note or referral or something letting me know that. In general, though, I expect a sub to be able to handle the day-to-day business of being in a classroom, which includes helping my students follow the rules.
     
  13. bison

    bison Habitué

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    I honestly don't know how it works in high school, but in elementary, it's common practice to have kids clean up a bit before leaving. Something like, "everyone pick up 3 pieces of trash before lining up" if there's a mess on the floor. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they were probably also referring to leaving the teacher's things how you found them, neat stacks of completed work, learning materials and books put away by the students, etc.
     
  14. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Whoops, we commented at the same time.
     
  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    With middle school and and high school kids, I found that this is the best way to keep the room clean without having myself to clean up.
    All the sub needs to do is to be in the habit of:
    - look at the room first thing in the morning. Let's say it's clean, nothing on floor.
    - 1st period comes in, tell students to look around and notice how clean things are, and that you expect it to be like that when they leave.
    - 2-3 minutes before class is over ask everyone to pick up any trash they see on the floor.
    - repeat with each class.

    I like it like this, the kids can't say they didn't leave the trash and then we have a power struggle over who cleans up. The hard part is to stay consistent. All I need is having to clean up myself a couple of times and I will remember next time :)
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I have relied on reports from other teachers. They can usually tell if a sub is managing my class well. One sub I had left a little note after each activity on my plans saying how it went and then also left a general note at the bottom that was detailed. The room was clean (no, I don't expect a sub to clean up after the kids, but I mean my things were in order and she had the kids pick up the floor) and the other teachers reported no problems. She is on my preferred list. I had another sub when my class was on a field trip (required PD- not my choice) and my teammates said he did an excellent job on the trip, so he's on my preferred list too. I wouldn't listen to kids who say a sub is "mean" or "nice"- as others have mentioned, "mean" more likely means actually made them do work/ didn't get run over by them. I honestly haven't had a "bad" one yet...I did see a doozy in my teammate's class a couple of weeks ago though! The sub was so bad he ended up being asked to leave before the morning was even over and a para taught the class instead.
     
  17. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    I've been on both sides. When I was a teacher, I liked if the kids seemed "okay" the next day. If they had a bad sub, they'd be more than happy to tell me about it. If the day was good, they'd be pretty quiet. It also helps if you've met the person and felt they were competent.

    I always clean up the classroom at the end of the day. If high schoolers left trash, I'll pick it up. If they genuinely refuse, I'd leave that in the note.

    For elementary you can play "Mystery Trash." I've written about this several times now and it's the best. At the end of the day, grab a trash can and station it right in front of you on a table. Tell the kids: "We are going to play mystery trash! I have picked one item from the floor that is the mystery trash. If you think you have found it, come up and show me." Then as they bring stuff up, (it'll be wild), just point to each and say "no, no, no, no, getting closer!, no, no." Some kids might catch on, so give hints. "Nope, it's white!" Or, "it's really really small!" Watch who is doing a good job cleaning. When the room looks pretty clean, yell "That's it!" And choose the kid who has been cleaning well. You can give out a prize if you want. Otherwise, it still works well.
     
  18. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Same here.

    I have a tough, tough class this year; I am nervous when I don't recognize the name of my sub. I've had two new subs this year--one I would love to have back, the other is not welcome in my classroom again.
     
  19. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    When I come back to a tidy room with my lesson plans followed and a note about the day, I know my room was in good hands.

    When I walk in the door and my neighboring teachers - who can see everything that happens in everyone's room - look at me and say, "Have fun in there," I know things were a disaster.

    (A quick peek at my Potato Head collection is also a good indicator.)
     
  20. Momzoid

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    I know when I have had a good sub is when the paint is still on the walls!:lol:
     
  21. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    A good sub handles things as they occur. I expect to have my lesson plans followed, and I expect that they will leave me a note about anything they were not able to get done. I also want to hear about major behavior issues. I teacher MS, so I am a little leery about subs that students like too well - it often means the students were up to something. They like to test the limits!
     
  22. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    My kiddos tell me everything! So if a sub tells me that the class was great & then the kids tell me something different, well. .. .

    Did my plans get done or a note left telling me what was done/not done. I always over plan anyway, so if something isn't done it's not a big deal.

    The other teachers will tell me too. Did you follow the directions regarding bathroom procedure? With only 3 stalls for 40+ kinder girls, it's important.
     
  23. Joy

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    I don't usually get to ask my kids how it went. I don't see all of them everyday because I teach related arts and we have a rotation. I go by if the sub was able to follow the plans and left a good note. I subbed before getting my full-time job and always left a business card. The subs that I have don't seem to do that and if they did it would really make them stand out. It would let me know that it's okay to email them or call them if I had a question and I'm sure to know their name if I want to have them back.
     
  24. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    We have assistants in and out of our classrooms, teachers that we co-teach with or have classrooms near, and our principal is pretty involved. These co-workers usually fill me in on the sub. Also, I agree with Caesar, a thoughtful note, good reports for students, and the state of the classroom give me a pretty good picture.
     
  25. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Thanks for the replies everyone!
     
  26. MrsPoppy

    MrsPoppy Rookie

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    All of the schools where I've gotten on the preferred call list have had some things in common:
    1. I get complimented in the hallway by other teachers because I'm not letting them mess around in the hall on the way to specials.
    2. I have reported to the Secretary or Principal at the end of the day on how the day went, and left my card asking them to invite me back again.
    3. Someone, either teacher, support staff, or principal, has stopped by the class at least once or twice my first few times in the building. I suspect that they listen outside the room first, and then pop in to ask how it is going.

    This being said, I believe that other teacher's observations play a strong part in how I'm perceived by the permanent teacher. I ALWAYS leave a note about the day and with a VERY few exceptions, I follow the plans left by the teacher, and fill in with my own supplemental materials if they under-plan. I'm sure the student work that is turned in and their comment that I read them "Bats At The Library" or whatever my current book is helps the teacher know.
     
  27. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    It makes me sad that there are so many subs who have been in the schools for several years. Yes, I know that many retired teachers sub and I also know subs who only work a couple of days per week to keep busy because a spouse makes enough...but for those of us doing it in hopes to get a foot in the door in a time when there are just no full time jobs...well, it's sad that "several years" is the norm.
     
  28. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    There are full-time jobs out there. You just have to be willing to move to get them.
     
  29. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Yes, I don't know a single teacher who didn't have a full time teaching position immediately out of college. I thought I was going to know my first this past August, but she got one a week or so before school started.
     
  30. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Just Me, what city are you in?
     
  31. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Unfortunately, moving requires an outlay of cash, which one does not have until one is recieving a paycheck....I'm more than willing to move on credit, but the places where I've looked are just as difficult as where I currently live. Where, specifically, do you believe there are jobs? Keep in mind that there is also an issue of which states have reciprocal agreements regarding credentials. I ran into that with Nevada. California has been doing some screwey stuff lately. Qualifying is tricky unless you have a "cleared" credential, which you can't get until you've had a job in CA for two years to go through the BTSA process.
     
  32. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Not near a city, really. But I'm in Kentucky. Come on over! ;)

    But, seriously, I know relocating is a major deal for many. It would be for me as well.
     
  33. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    There's always a trade-off. You have to be willing to move and you have to be willing to get a teaching license in whatever state you're moving to. It won't necessarily be easy, but if it's important, then it's what you do.

    The alternative is to spend a while, perhaps years, subbing in local districts in order to get your foot in the door.

    Sometimes the choice isn't easy. Sometimes it requires a pretty big sacrifice. But you do what you've got to do. If you decide that subbing is your better option, then go with that.
     
  34. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I only know of 2 teachers who got a teaching job pretty quickly after student teaching. They both teach math. One actually worked part time for awhile.
    I have heard of many, many (and met a lot personally) who were or are subbing for 2-3 years or even more with a teaching credential.
    All the teachers I've worked with at the detention centers have all subbed for a while, some for 4 years.
    I don't know, maybe that's just how it is in southern Cali and in other states it might be better.

    I never thought about moving, but just recently opened myself up to moving somewhere in California. I will not, however move out of state.
    Since I've been searching statewide, I have been seeing more postings that I qualify for. It is a scary thought though to move across state, start a new life, only to get pink slipped and laid off 5-6 months later, and get stuck in an area that I only moved to because of the job.
     
  35. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I didn't intend to imply our situation here is how it is everywhere. I realize it's difficult in many places. Just a little positivity. :)
     
  36. Nietzsche

    Nietzsche Companion

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    I have found that the older kids are, the more likely they are to make up things as a joke. I once had high school kids tell a teacher that I was out of the room most of the time. The truth was I had only left the classroom twice to go to the restroom the entire day and it was during class.
     
  37. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    You're allowed to leave the room to go to the restroom? :eek:

    In my district we're not allowed to leave the room if there are students present. Only get to go to the restroom during lunch break.
     
  38. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I hope this is a typo & you meant NOT during class. :dizzy:

    Leaving kids, of any age, unsupervised, is a huge no, no. Reason enough to not be asked back.
     
  39. Joy

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    Once when I was subbing, I had to ask the teacher next door if she could watch my class for a few minutes while I went to the bathroom. I was so embarrassed to do it but I had hours left in the day and couldn't possibly wait. I had also had all of the duty that day. She didn't mind and in fact she started requesting me after that. She even asked me to be her long-term sub which didn't work out since I got a full-time job before then.
     
  40. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Had to do this once as well - and it was one of my first times at the school! I felt terrible about it, but it was first grade and I had all duties until the afternoon. It was okay and now I sub there often.

    On another note, some people are not able to relocate for a teaching job. I had an awesome teaching job and my husband was relocated. He makes more money, so we moved for his job. Now I cannot find another full time teaching job. I have a couple part time jobs and sub, but subbing has not been the foot in the door I thought it would be. So moving is just not an option for everyone.
     
  41. Nietzsche

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    Yes, I meant not during class.:oops:

    I had even eaten lunch at the teacher's desk.
     

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