Thursday, April 16, 2015

Questions on Substitute Teaching

You asked and well I'm going to try to answer all of them... here is the first round of questions (all on substitute teaching).

How long have you been substitute teaching?

Well, I'm currently not substitute teaching and I hope that I can get my permanent teaching contract at the end of this school year, BUT I graduated with my education degree in May 2008 and I got my first full year of teaching in September 2013. The year before I got my full year term I took off (for the most part) to do a traveling ministry thing. SO, that means that I subbed from September 2008 - June 2012.

OR the short answer is 5 years (if I did my math right.... I actually had to really think about this one)

What do you wear when substitute teaching?

If I've never been to the school I dress nice. Depending on the grade I might wear a dress or skirt (if I'm certain I won't be on the floor with little ones) otherwise dress pants and a nice shirt.

If I've been to the school before and know how the teachers dress (and I know that they dress casually) I'll dress a little more casually... but very rarely would I wear jeans (coloured pants on the other hand... I would wear).

I'm sure we've all heard the saying "to dress for the job that you want to have" and I think in this case it is a good motto to follow. You are substitute teaching, the principal will likely see you. If they see a sloppy last minute you they might not see you as being super professional (even though I'm sure you are).

Here is a post on some other tips on what I would wear while substitute teaching.

And here is a post on some times I did not wear the correct attire for the job

How did you get your substitute teaching jobs?

In all the divisions I worked for (excluding private schools which would just call you - and I rarely got called by them) they were all online.

I spent a lot of time refreshing those substitute teaching sites in the hopes of something coming up. I would check them as soon as I got home, a few more times throughout the evening, and once more before I went to bed. Then, I would set my alarm for like 6:00am to start checking, again at 6:30, 7:00, and finally at 7:30. I much prefered being able to "shop" for my job than have the system call me.

Not too long ago I did a post for a handy app that would solve me having to get up and refresh so many times throughout the day. Now that we are in the age of smart phones the substitute teachers life has perhaps gotten a little easier (at least in terms of being able to find work). You can find that post on SubAssistant here

What about kids that misbehave?

Ugh, we all have those really awful days and as a substitute teacher I often feel like there is not much you can do about those students. EXCEPT of course, to call the principal in. For a long time I thought it would look bad if I had to call them to the class but it just means that you have a student who is choosing not to listen to you... you don't know the student, you can't call that students parent, you won't be around tomorrow to follow up. Just call in the principal.

AND, always, always, ALWAYS leave a note for the teacher. Whether it is good or bad I always left a note (and I love getting them now). Sometimes I had to leave that really awful note (I remember one time explaining in the note that I felt bad writing it but that the class was just not good - the teacher got back to me and apologized!)

AND, if you ever have a terrible time in a classroom or school remember that you are in control of the jobs you accept. If you don't want to go back, you don't have to. It's one of the perks of being a substitute teacher. 

Here is another tip on a signal you can introduce to the class for the day while you sub to get them to be quiet and listen... likely best for grades 6 and under.

Do you bring lessons and games?

In the beginning of my substitute teaching career I did. Then I realized I was never using them and so I stopped. Only once did I not find a plan for the day and only once (these were seperate occasions) did I get in "trouble" for not having a bag of stuff for the kids to do. In my opinion, you cannot possibly be prepared for every situation. One day you could be teaching kindergarten and the next day physics... are you really going to have stuff in your bag for both occassions just ready to go?

If you want to keep stuff in your bag this is what I would suggest

- word searches, sudukos, madlibs and other simple games like that

- a book to read to the class and an activity to go with it

- a ball to play silent ball

- stickers, pencils, erasers to give to students when they do something well.

So what do I bring in my bag?

Well, I bring a lunch. I bring a book for myself (to read on a prep or at lunch). I bring some incentives (sometimes, especially for early years) and I always brought a picture book to read with the class (again, if it were early years) another option would be The Book of Awesome for an older class I always survived.

And there you have it folks!

Any other questions that you've thought of or that are missing?  Send me an email or leave a comment and I'll do a round 2 (in like a month)

Next week:  Questions on Teaching!

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