What to do when there are no lesson plans?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by kada, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. kada

    kada New Member

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    Jan 4, 2010

    I started a teaching internship today at a high school which will involve a lot of substitute teaching. I was asked to sub for the first time today with no lesson plan and as it was the first day after vacation there was no old homework to go over or new homework to work on. Needless to say, the classes didn't go as well as I'd hoped...

    What can you do as a sub to keep a high school class going when you don't have a lesson plan or direction? How do you motivate students when they know the busy work isn't assigned by their teacher or graded?

    I appreciate any help or teaching tips for a newbie! Today I was taken totally off guard, but I want to be more prepared for next time.
     
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  3. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Jan 4, 2010

    Welcome, I'm glad you're here.

    The easiest and safest thing to do is to have them write about something they're interested in. Following the holidays it would have been safe to have them write about their favorite gift (only one thing), or they could have written about their New Year resolutions. Tell the kids you look forward to seeing who they are. Everyone's a little ego-centric and love to talk/write about themselves.

    I teach elementary but subbed HS before I landed my job. There's generally always a neighboring teacher to help out too.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    Jan 26, 2010

    First I look to see if I can find previous lesson plans - if so I just follow those advancing the page numbers (once a teacher was shocked to find I had done everything she planned without having her lesson plan because I did that)
    If that doesn't work, and its a school where I can trust the kids, I ask them what they did last in each subject and I do the next part.
    And if that's not possible, I look around for any indication of what they have been doing and create lesson plans like that.
    If no work is available for me to look at, I create lessons related to the subjects (only made it to this step once) like having the students writing a story that must have a title like "Soccer." But I make sure to let the students know that as long as their story is related to the title its fine, so some kids write about the game called soccer, others right about a cat named soccer, etc
    Always tell them you are collecting their work for the teacher, and then do that.
     
  5. indaydutay

    indaydutay Rookie

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    Jan 26, 2010

    Firstly, I suggest you purchase Substitute Teaching: A Handbook for Hassle-Free Subbing.

    It gives good advice about subbing and has suggestions for different activities. It's mostly for elementary school (which I do), but maybe you could get ideas for high school activities as well. Or else you could start researching ones for high school students online.

    I have a friend who subs for high school (though it's probably not great advice since the students aren't really learning) he brings a few dvds/videos in his bag when teachers don't leave lesson plans.

    Luckily for me, I haven't come across a classroom (yet) without lesson plans, but I also figure little activities... quick lesson plans... videos would be the way to go!
     
  6. dragonfly05

    dragonfly05 Companion

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    Jan 27, 2010

    I haven't had to use it yet, but I have a class set of 'checkbook registers', as well as one on a transparency. I also have little cards with things on them like: "You get paid today-$650.00" or "You got a flat tire! $125.00".

    So, each student gets a register and you have one up on the transparency for the class to see. You have everyone write a starting balance in their register. You have all of the little cards in a basket or something and ask a student to pick one out. Together, you can determine if it's something you would subtract or add. This continues however long you want.

    This activity is great for all ages. You could create cards with decimal values to make it more challenging for older students...or keep it simple for younger students. Many things can be discussed with this lesson. You can discuss value of items, addition, subtraction, importance of saving money, the importance of working, etc. Students can potentially get a lot out of this, as it is something they will eventually (if not now) relate to. And, this is a lesson that could take up a lot of time. You could also group the students...have them use the registers along with store ads instead of the cards... SO much you could do with this.
     
  7. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jan 27, 2010

    Before I give my tips, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is this: Since you'll be at this school for awhile, you can use time when there is no lesson plan to build relationships with the students. This is invaluable because when there is a lesson plan, those students will work with you. Ask them questions about their interests, talk about music, ask them about their goals after high school, show them empathy, etc. If you take the time to find them interesting, they will be more interested in what you have to say.

    For instance, I had a girl yesterday say something very lewd, loudly enough so I could hear her clearly. I turned it into a humorous story about what would have happened to me in the "olden days", if I had made that comment (expelled, sent to a counselor, suspected of psychological disturbance, etc). But, I was also trying to sneak in a lesson about propriety - saying such things so loudly that an adult can hear is not smart.

    Now, on to a few tips ...

    I've found that it's difficult to convince high school students to work when they know it is not going to count as part of their grade. So ... when there is no lesson plan, the key is to whip something up that's in line with what they are learning. You can continue from where they left off, do chapter reviews, etc.

    (If I create work for them, I won't go so far as to tell them the work will count toward their letter grade, but I do suggest their teacher will be looking at their work so it could effect their cooperation/work habits grade.)

    In reality, if the teacher doesn't leave a plan and is only gone for one day, I'll often give quiet free-time. They can listen to ipods (with headphones), chat softly, do other homework, etc. And, if they have homework, I offer to help them, as an incentive.
    or
    Create a quick 15 minute assignment, then give them free time for the remainder.

    By the way, my free-time plan, only works well in 50 minute classes. If you have a longer block schedule, you really do have to create work for them to do before free-time or the energy will ramp up too high due to boredom.

    I sometimes bring along a VHS and DVD in case I have the equipment to show a movie. But check the rating - only go up to PG to avoid controversy. I'm actually thinking of investing in a season or 2 of the Simpsons because it seems to capture the attention of the more difficult kids.
     
  8. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    Jan 27, 2010

    In high school, my substitute teachers always gave free time. I quickly found that didn't fly in the district I sub in. Someone will pop their head in and check on you until they get used to seeing how you work.
    One school it seems they always come in right at a bad moment, but then at the other school the principal only ever comes in at a great moment, so I guess it evens out. I can't tell you how many thumbs up and head nods I've gotten from him when it seems like I just got the complete control I wanted a minute before he showed up.
     
  9. myownwoman

    myownwoman Habitué

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    Jan 28, 2010

    I say always be prepared no matter what. When there are lesson plans, then of course follow that. Though, when there are no plans, you are free to use your sub pack. That has mini lesson plans, books, worksheets, movies, etc. that you can use.

    Good luck!
     

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