As a spankin’-new blogger looking to improve my blog, I have joined Joel’s Blog Revolution. Today’s assignment: use a comprehensive list when discussing great content. Here it goes.
For three horrific months after I graduated college, I served as a substitute teacher for a nearby “up and coming” school district. I subbed for the middle and high schools in the district and learned a lot from the experience. I would venture to say it was a 50/50 job — half positive, half negative. The good days were really good where students would follow my directions and respect me as a human being. But the bad days … whew, they were really bad. From dirty lying teachers to snotty kids threatening me in front of the class, bad days really sucked.
Those bad days, though, really taught me a thing or two about the way I want to run my classroom. I have compiled a list of lessons I learned as a sub to remind me of how I want to behave as a teacher when I have a sub fill in for me.
1. Your classroom management skills are directly correlated to your students’ behavior when you’re out of the room.
2. Create a thorough sub folder and store school schedules, school procedures, seating charts, rosters, lunch procedures, the name of a helpful teacher nearby, emergency procedures, appropriate work to keep students accountable for the day, and anything else you deem important. The information you provide is a sub’s lifeline.
3. Don’t assume you’re getting a seasoned sub. Treat every sub like it’s his/her first day (in your district, school, or classroom). Don’t be condescending, of course; subs aren’t stupid and don’t enjoy being treated as such. But you should make sure you inform your sub of the important stuff. See #2. If you don’t, who will?
4. Make sure you assign work that will keep your students accountable for the day. A sub will not be able to easily pull off a silent reading day, nor will he/she successfully manage to get students to complete any work they know you just pulled out of your butt.
5. It’s best to instill the fear of God in your students before you’re absent. Students who know their teacher means business are less likely to misbehave for a sub. They will fear having the sub record their names, because they know you will deal with them appropriately when you return.
6. Please be honest when requesting a sub. Don’t say you teach 6th grade language arts when you really teach all-boys 8th grade langauge arts. Your very young female sub will hate you forever. True story.
7. If you need a sub because you are taking some kids on a field trip, and you don’t intend to take over when you return, don’t say you will. All the sub’s credibility goes to crap when the students expect you at the end of the day, only to see you run in the classroom to lock your desk and dart back out. Your sub will hate you forever. True Story.
8. If you don’t want kids to play computer games all period, don’t have your students meet in the computer lab.
9. If first period is the class from hell, don’t say they’re a great group of kids. Your sub will think you are a dirty liar and will therefore hate you forever.
10. Follow through. If a sub reports student misbehavior, be consistant in discipline.
11. Find a teacher who is willing to check in on your sub before school starts, in the middle of the day, and at the end of the day. It’s no fun to feel like you are alone and nobody cares about you.
12. One teacher addressed me as Ms. StrangeNewTeacher on her sub plans instead of just calling me “sub”. It made me feel respected and set the pace for a great day. I will love that teacher forever.
13. If you allow students to listen to their ipods in class, please don’t tell the sub they’re not allowed. Your students will destroy the sub, and the sub will hate you forever. True story.
14. If you are at school and notice a sub having a difficult time, offer some help. I know you are busy, and you have a class full of kids yourself, but a little charity goes a long way. The sub’s students are most likely way more misbehaved than yours. The sub will love you forever. If nothing else, don’t stand in a circle with your teacher friends and laugh at the sub. I guarantee you the sub will hate you forever.
15. If you don’t respect substitute teachers and their job, then you cannot expect your students to respect the sub.
Bottom line — if your school is anything like the schools I subbed at, subs are more valuable than gold. Keep your subs happy, and they will make your life easier. If your subs love you forever, you will not have an issue getting one to fill in for you. If your subs hate you forever, you may find yourself sub-less and therefore at school when you have a 105 fever. Also, subs talk to each other. If one sub thinks you’re a dirty liar, all the other subs will soon know.