Sandra Elliot and C. Lynn Fox
With a little preparation and a few of the right ingredients, being out of the classroom can be healthy and productive for you and your sub. Here are tips from Sandra Elliot and C. Lynn Fox, authors of Make a Difference in a Day: A Pocket-Size Handbook for Beginning and Substitute Teachers.
The handbook is literally a cookbook of ideas covering classroom management, talking to teens, lesson planning and delivery strategies, understanding motivation, and students with special needs. For more on the handbook, go to substituteteacherhandbook.org. Find resources for substitutes at nea.org/substitute.
Advice from substitute teachers
1. Keep a complete Emergency Substitute Folder containing updated lists of any students who need special attention and teachers who can help if needed.
2. Leave teaching guides or any needed materials in one place that is easy to find.
3. Leave some extra reading materials or other available materials for students who finish early.
4. Give feedback (a simple email), so subs can improve their performance.
5. Leave a clear list of class rules, or specific guidelines about unacceptable student behavior.
6. Work with your class about having a positive attitude toward subs.
7. Provide some or more effective training in teaching skills through the district.
8. Leave a list of suggested appropriate “rewards” that would positively reinforce good behavior.
9. Be clear about where a sub can send a student for a time-out — a neighboring classroom, office, etc.
10. Give a list of interventions you use that would help stop misbehaviors.
Advice for substitute teachers
1. It’s important to stick to the lesson plan.
2. Return my classroom the way you found it.
3. Please enforce my classroom rules.
4. Be clear with the class about your expectations and be consistent in enforcing them.
5. Use professional behavior with students and school personnel. Be aware of appropriate language and appropriate dress.
6. Don’t try to be the students’ friend.
7. Don’t accept assignments which are beyond your academic abilities or comfort zone.
8. Leave some contact information in case I do need to call or email you.
9. Don’t overreact or underreact.
10. Get enough training in classroom management to keep the class under control.
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