Friday, August 29, 2014

Routines and Procedures: Substitute Teacher Plans

School has started and you are focused on being there for the kids, but then …BAM! You come down with a fever…or your own child has a doctor’s appointment or the school sends you to a training session. 

Are you prepared for this moment when you will have to leave the classroom with someone else? 

If you are ready then you will have the following in a folder ready to go:

1.       An updated easy to understand lesson plan.
2.       Class student lists preferably with a seating chart.
3.       Instructions on how to take attendance.
4.       An explanation of what rules and procedures you have for the class (for example, bath room passes, what to do with the homework/classwork, do you allow them to use the class computers, do you let them listen to their music when they have completed the work, what to do if a student is late, what to do if the a student gets sick,  emergency procedures, etc)
5.       A note about which teacher/student in each class who  can help.

Don’t worry the day will come and you will need to be out. When this happens the substitute teacher will be the one person in the building who will truly know whether you have routines and procedures in your classes. 

If you do, the sub will have it easy, if not she will hopefully know a lot about tap dancing. 

Before I was hired for my first teaching job, I substitute taught. When they found that they could depend on me I was kept quite busy by one school system and especially one school.  The first three times that I was hired to be a substitute teacher are firmly burned into my gray matter. I will never forget them…you see, I discovered that not all teachers have created routines and practices and some don’t prepare properly for a substitute to be able to step into her class. 

Here are my recollections of those three days...

My first opportunity was in a Graphic Arts class in a high school (I was trying to become a high school history teacher). The teacher had a big note on his desk. Take role. Give them the handout. Don’t let them touch the machines! Well, the work was completed by everyone within 10 minutes…Now what?

My second opportunity was in a Drama/Chorus class (let me remind you…history teacher…). 

The teacher left a note…Take attendance. Attached is the assignment. They must turn it in at the end of the class. They can use the books at the back of the classroom to answer the questions. Don’t let them take the books home. 

Once again…they were finished in 10 minutes or less…but this time I was ready…I learned how to tell stories to make teenagers laugh…these stories were tales of teens and school. I had my own stand-up routine! I don’t know if I would have challenged ( insert the name of your favorite comedian) but the kids loved it! I kept their attention and life was good. Too bad the teacher didn't leave more for the class.

My third substitute job is my favorite (by the way…these were a really long time ago…can you tell that they had an impact on me?!) I had been hired to be in a band class but at the last second they had a math teacher leave with an emergency! The assistant principal found me as I was arriving and said…change in plans…Do you mind going to a 7th grade math class? No problem. No plans. No list of routines. Time for stand-up comedian to go into action…I was helped by a little lizard I found crawling on the window sill. 

Just before the first group of kids entered the class room I placed the lizard on my shoulder…he stayed…the kids came into the class…I started the class…took attendance and then one of the kids said, “Do you know that you have a lizard on your shoulder?” I had them hooked…It worked all day…until another math teacher provided some materials…

Glad that I never had to do PE…

My first teaching job came that November! Yea!!!

Ok…so here is my point.

Teach your kids routines and procedures.

Create a folder that you update weekly with information about the operation of the class, possible work assignments that follow your current lessons, and explanations of the most needed procedures like attendance taking, restroom breaks, and lunch.

Remember the day is coming where you will need to be out.

Be prepared and be nice to the substitute teacher!

Have a great year!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Positive Parent Contact… Do It Now !

What?! Parent! 

You say that you have only had a few days in school…?!


What a better time to contact home!

Choose a couple of your students and call home!

Have some good things to say…Now don’t just choose the kids who do everything right…

Choose kids you may even think may end up struggling…

…find something good to say about the students …

Not something silly like…Joey sure does a good job at sitting in his seat…

Come on you can do better than that…

The point is ..take time over the next couple of weeks to make contact with parents…It will go for miles…

Why? Come on you know why…

Most parents hear nothing from the teachers who teach their kids and those who do hear from the teacher…well…it’s a regular thing primarily ending with a visit to detention or In-School suspension.

It’s time to contact home. 

Win some fans…

Say something nice…over the next few weeks make sure that you have contacted all parents/guardians…(that way if you need a translator or realize that the number is wrong…well you find out now…not when it’s an emergency.) and spread some love…

Say something nice…they now know your voice…and you found time to go out of your way and share some!

What?! Contact home?! Most definitely! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Teachers: 4 Ways to Start the School Year Right

Do you know what you will do on the first day of school?

What will you emphasize?

Will you give a major assignment right off the bat?

Will you spend all of your time doing paperwork?

Here are four ways to start the school year right!

#1: Greet them at the door with a smile.

There is no other way! Learning is fun!

#2: Start learning and using their names.  

Start with a seating chart. Have them find their seats as they enter. Their names are on their desks. Then give each one a popsicle stick. Have them write their name on it and then give back to you. You will use this later. See previous blog posts (July 2nd and July 8th) and listen to episode 27 of my podcast for info on how to do this.

#3: Go over your routines and procedures.

Each day spend some time with these…know what your routines and procedures are…Listen to my podcast episode 22, episode 23, and episode 24 for some thoughts on this from veteran teachers.

Make sure that you have thought about when class starts what do they do?

Turning in homework, Going to the bathroom, I’m late to class, I’m absent one day from class…

There are many you could have…just start with the major ones…

Don’t threaten them…

Let them know your rules…No more than five…

Make sure that they understand your expectations…

If you are in need for assistance with this…

Great ideas!

#4: A Fun activity that introduces them to your 


Have something fun for them to do from your first unit. 
No matter what your subject.  No matter what the age.  

Don’t introduce them to your class by boring them to death or making them hate your subject by giving them an impossible task.
Make them go... Wow! ...on the first day…and make them look forward to part two!

Check out Pinterest…Just search for First Day of School Activities and you will find that many of your colleagues have provided cool ideas for starting the year off right!

Four Ways to Start The Year Off Right!