How to Prepare Your Classroom for a Substitute Teacher When You Are Going to Be Are Absent from Teaching
Are You Going to Be Absent from Teaching?
Any substitute will tell you: they love to go into classrooms where everything they need for the day is visible and updated. How frustrating is it to walk into a classroom that isn’t yours and not know where anything is? It’s very frustrating, especially when you are trying to find lesson plans, and class lists while twenty or more students are waiting impatiently for you to begin.
Emergency Lesson Plans
I have an emergency folder ready with lesson plans for a substitute.
Emergency Information to Have Ready for a Substitute Teacher
In our school, each classroom has a red binder with all important emergency information like procedures for fire drills, classroom lockdowns, who to contact if a student falls ill, etc.
If you do not have such a binder, make sure to leave all important information in regards to emergencies for the substitute teacher. There's nothing worse than being in a strange classroom and not knowing what to do with a class when a random fire drill occurs...
How to Get Ready for a Substitute
What can you do as a classroom teacher to help substitutes have the best day when you are absent?
1. Prepare a substitute folder or binder in the beginning of the year. In my school, we are required to have a folder in the main office with a generic lesson plan and all the information necessary for a substitute in case we were out for a day or two. I personally kept a second one in my classroom with all the information necessary, plus the actual lesson I want taught, especially if I knew ahead of time that I would be absent. In this folder or binder, include class lists, seating charts, classroom rules, lesson plans, extra hall passes, lavatory passes (ours are color coded and dated for each day), and emergency contact information. If you have any students with severe allergies (like allergies to peanuts), include that information in there as well.
2. Regularly update all information in the folder/binder. You know how many times you make/print a class list, only to have a new student the next day. Make sure your class lists and seating chart are updated often to ensure that the substitute knows exactly who belongs in your class and where they belong in the room.
3. Make sure the daily classroom procedure and routine is clear. Every day, my classes followed a certain routine: opening activity, homework review, new lesson, practice, closure and new homework assignment. From the beginning of the year, the routine was established so that I do not have to tell my students day to day what they needed to do when they entered my classroom. If your students have been trained in a routine, they should know exactly what to do even if you are not there. Just in case, leave clear information of your routine or procedures with the substitute so that he/she knows exactly how to run the class.
4. Leave clear, detailed lesson plans. Often, substitutes are not trained in your subject matter, so it is important to leave clear, detailed instructions of how to teach the lesson of the day and with what materials the lesson should be taught. Leave a list of key words and their definitions if there is a lesson that is very specific to your subject matter. If you decide to leave a movie for the students to watch, prepare a worksheet they can use to record information they learn from the movie. Often times, if there is only a movie, students will use the opportunity to goof around and fall asleep when there is a substitute, potentially causing trouble and distractions for the whole class. Making them complete a worksheet forces them to pay attention to the movie.
5. Prepare students beforehand about how to behave in the presence of a substitute. Basically, the expectations you have for your students when they are with a substitute should be the same as if you were in the room with them. They are to follow all directions, have respect, follow classroom rules and complete all assignments in a timely manner. If the substitute has an issue with a student who does not comply, leave instructions of how the substitute should handle things, i.e. referral forms, contacting the principal, leaving notes about the students’ behavior, etc.
6. If the substitute does a nice job, leave a positive review with your administrator. In our school, we had to fill out a form about how things were when we had a substitute. It’s helpful to a substitute to leave positive feedback since they are most likely looking to be hired full-time or would like to continue substituting.
Substituting in classrooms is not an easy job. By following these tips, you can make any substitute’s experience in your room as positive as possible.
Interested in becoming a substitute teacher? Watch this.
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