Tips for subbing at Elementary level?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers Archives' started by teacherwanabe, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. teacherwanabe

    teacherwanabe Rookie

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    Nov 24, 2009

    Greetings everyone!

    I recently applied and interviewed for a substitute position within my district and was promptly hired. At the interview, I was told that the openings they had were for the elementary school and that I would be filling in for teachers' aides.

    I was hoping to go to the middle or high school, but am definitely willing to give elementary a try and want it to work out. The principal also suggested that because I am still in college and only graduated high school recently, that elementary would be a great place to start and build confidence. Also, I'll only be subbing for about two months until college starts, so if I turn out to not like it that much, there's nothing to worry about.

    I'm nervous but also excited to start! I'm set to start around next week, after all the paperwork, fingerprinting, and everything else gets finished.

    Could you guys just fill me in on what I may expect and give me a few tips?
     
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  3. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    Nov 24, 2009

    Teacher's aide is a great place to start and an good introduction to the whole experience.

    Regarding elementary kids, the movement in a classroom can be very intimidating and their sensitive souls need a delicate touch, but their enthusiasm and lovability are very endearing.

    Regarding your work, listen well to the teacher and try to predict what is needed, especially distributing materials and taking care of supplies. Be ready and willing to help with anything! Try not to pester the teacher with what you should be doing, but try to be a natural extension of her as she works.

    Look around the room and find kids who are lost or who are distracted. Very quietly walk to them and whisper in their ear, and get them to listen or be on task. Always model paying close attention to the teacher.

    There is always something to organize in the classroom. During slow times, offer to sort markers and throw away dried up ones, organize the bookshelf, or alphabetize student papers. Be ready to make copies or go for coffee.

    If you work hard and are a beloved substitute then you'll be asked back more and more, and you'll pave the way for good recommendations and a great bridge to future employment.

    What a great way to get to interact with the kids without having to worry about lesson plans and curriculum, grading, angry parents, or pushy administrators! Enjoy!
     
  4. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Nov 24, 2009

    From High School to Elementary School?

    That's a really good question and answer.

    My situation is somewhat different - I am a substitute at the high school level, and I'm pretty comfortable with that. However, I have just signed up with a elementary & middle school district.

    What are some possible adjustments that I would have to do as a high school teacher to work with them?
     
  5. myownwoman

    myownwoman Habitué

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    Nov 24, 2009

    Subbing at an elementary school is a wonderful place to be! I currently substitute mostly in K-5 settings, and I have learned that talking to them at their level, asking how they are doing will go a long way. Get them to tell you about their lives, and you will find that once they like you they will open up to you. Also, helping them out will also work wonders on them. They are really sweet and fun to be around.

    Have fun!
     
  6. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Nov 25, 2009

    Elementary is a lot more structured than secondary. I came home exhausted every day. The teachers usually leave detailed lesson plans because they are on a tight schedule. And, you're with the same kids all day, so it's more work to keep them engaged. And, you have to escort them to lunch and recess and sometimes to the bus at the end of the day - and often you have to meet them in the schoolyard in the morning. So it's go-go-go all day.
    The hardest thing for me to figure out was which books to use when. Some (most) teachers just assume you are familiar with the textbooks and the teacher's editions. Get there early so you can locate all the materials you need for the day.

    When I switched to secondary I found myself kind of bored at first because of the constant action in elementary. But, my experiences managing elementary school kids was fantastic training - especially for middle school.

    Best tip: They love to be read to. Especially if you can read with expression and make a book come alive. Story time is a useful tool to give you a break. And, if you can't figure out a lesson plan (sometimes the math was difficult for me because the methods have changed since I was in school) you can always read a story.
     
  7. IAMdoneSubbing

    IAMdoneSubbing Companion

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    Dec 12, 2009

    Yup. On days I sub high school, I usually was bored to death especially if it is a senior class.

    If given opportunity, some would try to talk about their life stories to the point of totally gettingdistracted from the subject at hand. So wisdom (to not make them feel disregarded) is necessary to bring them back to the topic at hand.

    That's hos it is in one of the district. In another, it's the same except that the 5h grade don't need to be picked up.

    I like it when the teachers stacked them up and have them ready for me (turned to the right page).

    Unless it is 1st grade or below, wouldn't kids remember their math time and complain?
     
  8. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Dec 13, 2009

    Yeah, I took an assignment in a Kindergarten class! What a big change from high school youths!

    I got there early, thank goodness. Luckily for me, the other K teacher who also teaches this class was there and filled me in on what I needed to do and wrote me out a lesson plan, because there wasn't one when I got there.

    The kids really were cute and darling. Even the boys who were a bit rambunctious...there was one who kept yelling out "Christmas songs are stinky.." I think he was trying to get attention or provoke some other kids.

    And yes, it is go-go-go...constant motion, not a wasted moment.

    Found that they DO indeed love to be read to. Fortunately for me, I have lots of experience reading and interacting with my preschool age daughter (4 yr. old) so it wasn't totally out of it for me.

    It was a good experience for me, the staff and the parents were very courteous and helpful, but I think long term teaching K isn't the best fit for me, I felt really out of place, even though the kids were really enjoyable.
     
  9. myownwoman

    myownwoman Habitué

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    Dec 15, 2009

    I was subbing for a 6th/7th grade class in middle school today, and I could not believe how big some of the kids were!:woot:

    I had a hard time getting their attention, as they were a very talkative bunch. I realized that clapping a rhythm and waiting for them to repeat it, did not work. As a student quickly told me.:lol: So I just stood in the front of the room and waited until they quieted down. Though that took almost two minutes for the shushing and talking to cease.:mellow:

    When the day was over, I told myself that I had it with middle school. Though I will continue to work as an Instructional Aide in middle school, as this is more one-on-one or small group teaching. Not as the guest teacher to a class full of 30+ students.

    I rather stick with K-5.:thumb:
     
  10. IAMdoneSubbing

    IAMdoneSubbing Companion

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    Dec 16, 2009

    I have recently realized that last academic year, I got lucky by not getting called by the 2 out of 3 middle schools aftre initially getting called. One was a really bad one. The classrooms (science rooms) were so big and the kids sitting wherever they wanted including benches and with some making too much noise, I had to use the guards and so eventually, they didn't call me anymore. On the first day at the 2nd one - it was for P.E., one girl (not from my class), was so rude that I blurted out somehting that her friend heard and so her mother made a big deal out of it. Though not right away, after two or so more call in which one was for Science with lots of Asian kids, I didn't get called anymore, probably because in the last one for English, one girl was such a brat. I got plenty of work and so no big deal. This year the third of the 3 middle schools called me once - it has high shcool too at the same location which is considered very good. Kids were not bad like the first one but it dfinitely was more drainign than high shool and the draingin was unlike elementary. I prefer elementary over middle schools.
     

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