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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Substitute Teacher Typical Day…

The StatCounter feature listed on this blog shows individual search strings that different search engines used to land here. Some of the search strings used to find this blog have been interesting to say the least.

A few days ago a search for “What is a typical day for a substitute teacher?” didn’t find the answers for one nervous guest teacher, so she emailed me with some basic questions. I now realize they might be useful for other prospective newbie substitute teachers. I only sub for elementary grades K-6th but I assume the basics are the same for Middle and H.S.

The major differences being you teach only one lesson to 5-6 H.S. classes instead of all the subjects to one elementary class. You also have to take attendance for each period.

This following information may or may not be in the “substitute handbook” you received when you applied for the job. It wasn’t in mine.

My Typical Day:

1) Getting the assignment:

The first year, almost all of my assignments were automated calls in the early morning. About 2-3 hrs (4:30-6:30AM) before the assignment, the phone will ring and request consent to take a class. As you get experience, teachers will pre-arrange assignments days and even weeks in advance. (I hate the early morning phone calls…)

2) Getting Ready:

Shower, shave, dress business causal and make a sack lunch. I take a sack lunch because the typical school “lunch hour” is exactly 40mins and there usually isn’t any time to go off campus to eat. Don’t even ask about buying the school cafeteria lunch. It’s too expensive and crappy quality.

3) Getting There:

Make sure you know how to get to the school before you leave home. I have a binder of MapQuest maps for all the elementary schools in the district. Your assigned arrival time is 30mins before the kids are due to enter your room. If you are a few minutes late, it’s no biggie. If you decide to get there too early you might find yourself waiting in the parking lot until the school secretary arrives.

4) After Getting There:

Check in with the school secretary. Some schools make you sign in before class; others insist you sign on the way out. Get your classroom key and room number. If this is the first time at this school, ask for a map with the location of the office and “your” room marked. Ask for directions to the restrooms, teachers lounge and teachers mail boxes. Use the restroom. You won’t have another opportunity until the first recess.

5) Get Data:

After stowing your lunch in the fridge, find “your teacher’s” mail box and check for an attendance list and/or lesson plans. If they aren’t here then they may already be in the classroom.

6) Locate Classroom:

Unlock door, turn on the lights and, if necessary, the A/C or heating system. I suggest leaving the door locked until you get settled. You don’t want kids running in/out dumping back packs or hanging around while you’re getting settled.

7) Locate Materials

Locate the lesson plans and attendance sheet if you haven’t already brought them over from the office. If you are lucky you might even have a seating chart. If not, this might be a great time to make a rough one using the table arrangements and name tags on the student desks if available.

8) Arrange Materials

Look over the lesson plan, locate all the books and handouts referenced. Might be a good idea to arrange them in the order used and open all books to pages referenced.

9) Board work

Write your name (or alias) with today’s date on the white board. If there is additional time, you might write the day’s agenda on the board from the lesson plan.

10) Go Get’em

When ready, go find where your class lines up. Sometimes it’s right outside the door most times it’s out in the playground. Once the bell rings take them to class and let them get unpacked and settled.

11) Attendance

Introduce yourself and wait until any morning announcements from the office are complete. Take the attendance and lunch count. If you don’t accomplish anything else for the day, you must have the attendance turned in. Most elementary schools here also want to know how many are buying lunch and include it on the daily attendance sheet. Ask the kids who gets to run the attendance over to the office. Different schools, classes have different procedures but the kids “know what to do…”

12) Teach

If you’re lucky, all you have to do is follow the lesson plan, take breaks during recess and lunch and have a great day.

If it isn’t a great day, vent online with your own blog…

13) Cleanup and Leave Report

When the final bell rings and kids are gone, leave a written report for the teacher to let her know how your day went. List anything on the plan that didn’t get done or that you didn’t think went well. Let her know about how her class was with you today. If you have notorious names, list them. If you had any exceptionally helpful kids, list them also. I’ve been told teachers don’t trust subs that write “everything was great” when they find out later it wasn’t.

If you feel up to it, clean the room. The teacher appreciates coming back to a clean room. I usually make the kids clean it up before I let them go home.

14) Exit the Building

Return the classroom key to the office, sign out and go home to relax.

…Until the next day!

(P.S. See attached comments for helpful tips for those in the upper grades that I don't do...)


Anonymous said...

That covers it pretty well. For HS and JHS you generally don't have to worry about where the kids line up, they get themselves to the classroom.

* I usually made my lunch the night before just to save time, but that's only if I knew I had an assignment lined up already.

* It's a fine line as to how early to show up, but if this is your first time teaching at a particular school/ for a particular teacher, 30 minutes might be shaving it a bit thin. If the teacher has things organized a half-hour is plenty of time, but there will be days when you arrive in a classroom and there's no roster or lesson plan prepared, and then you'll need all the lead time you can get.

* Get the main office phone number, and what to dial on the classroom phones to ring it. You probably won't need it, but when you do, the last thing to want to have to do is fumble through papers trying to find the number.

* I generally left the daily summary in the teacher's mailbox on my way out, less chance of one of the kids spiriting it away (or it getting lost if a different sub takes the class the next day).

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I also put my rules on the board and explain how things will work while I am there. I also introduce myself to the neighboring teachers, just in case. I also find out how tardies work and if there is no system, then I put a space on the board for the tardy ones to put their names.

Robin Raven said...

Hi there,

I found your blog through a similiar search, as I was just hired to start substitute teaching. It is a lot of paperwork in LA that I am almost done with...

I am nervous, and excited...

I found your blog to be really well-written and interesting! (-:

KauaiMark said...

Thanks, Robin...Welcome to the club!

learning English said...

Thanks for your good educational review.