I've already discussed ways for teachers to remain organized this year and ways for substitute teachers to get themselves organized when you get those last minute jobs; today I bring you Ways for Teachers to be Organized for a Substitute and once again I'm linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for another Five for Friday post.
Trust me, I know how hard it is to prepare for a substitute teacher when you aren't sick... we don't even want to think about it when we are sick! I think I usually had to stay after school for about 30 minutes just to prepare for my subs when I had one... BUT I knew what I liked as a substitute teacher and just in case I wasn't the only one like that I wanted to prepare for my substitute the way I would want every teacher to prepare for me (as a substitute teacher).
I have over 5 years of experience as a substitute teacher so needless to say I know what I like (and I know what I don't like)... below are 5 things that I really, REALLY like to see when I come into a classroom.
Leave a Plan
Listen, I wasn't in your classroom last week and I wasn't in your classroom yesterday. I have no idea what you were studying in ANY of the classes and if we are being completely honest with ourselves I think we would agree that sometimes kids aren't 100% honest (although you can usually find at least a couple that will show you the work they've been doing). Chances are you do not prepare your lessons on a whim, 5 minutes prior to class starting and so we shouldn't expect substitute teachers to do the same. Of course I have some tricks up my sleeve so that we can do some sort of learning no matter the grade but it would be so, SO, SO much more helpful if you just left a plan... plus this way we get to keep your students on whatever kind of routine you've implimented from the beginning of the year... because I also don't know that you have sharing time every day at presely 9:17.
Also, because you are typing out a plan anyways (or photocopying your day book at the very least) it would be super helpful if you included times for when periods start and end on it... this way if we are working on an assignment I can tell them they have 10 more minutes left rather than guessing when the buzzer will ring (assuming that a buzzer will ring... because I've been in schools where they don't have these for inbetween classes)... you could even just photocopy your classroom timetable for this and leave it for me.. which ever is easier!
Make Things Easy to Find
When I had a substitute teacher come into my classroom I always left stuff in 2 places: the front table or my desk. I didn't have them wandering all over the room pulling games from the cupboard or riffling through the filing cabinets. I always did all of that for them ahead of time. Having to locate and hunt around for stuff takes time and substitutes don't have a lot of that. To make life easier for us it would be helpful if you could get it all out for us ahead of time. Naturally, I know this isn't always possible because often you might have to call in sick from home. No, I am not expecting you to drive to school when you are sick to set up for me... in this case it would be helpful if your classroom was just generally tidy and the games cupboard was just easy to locate so that I didn't have to open everything only to discover it was the first one I looked in but didn't see the games hiding all the way in the back.
This was an easy one... I would leave piles of any worksheets or games that my students would do for the day on that front table or my desk and then on top of each I would leave a sticky note saying which class it was for. All it would say was "Science" or "Math" the rest of the information was in my plan. I would stack everything in the order the substitute would need it for the day and leave it at that.
Let Us Know About Duty!
I REALLY don't like it when I arrive at a school and am surprised to discover that I am not only on both recess duties but also for the morning. It just makes my day a little more hectic (especially with that first thing in the morning duty because it gives me less time to look at the plan). BUT, I would come just a little earlier if I knew about having to be on that first thing duty. I would also come prepared with warm clothes and not wearing a dress if I knew I would be on duty on that frigid -27 day. I always warned my substitutes when they would be on duty (whether it was a beautiful day or not)... I mean you don't get your 2 15 minute breaks when you have recess duty and sometimes that is something you'll want to prepare for on your drive to work!
If at all possible I always like it when a teacher leaves too much for us to do. I rarely feel bad when I don't get through everything a teacher left for us (but I do often try to) because a day with a substitute isn't the same as one without one. I especially like it when in the plan there are extra things to do (like play this game if you have time, read this book, or do this page). Having down time in a classroom with a substitute teacher can be a disaster when the students don't have anything to do... so let's keep them occupied!
Of course, if your students love to read, which mine (thankfully) always did.... giving them extra reading time in the day is a super easy way to "over prepare".
And, of course I also don't mind if there is a little extra time because I do have some tricks up my sleeve to fill some of that extra time... just don't leave too much. Okay?
There, that wasn't so bad was it? Now you are all prepared for your substitute and he/she will come in thinking you are just the most prepared person ever and doesn't even beleive that you left school with a headache, cold, and broken arm yesterday because your class ran like a dream!
Like I said at the beginning, I know that preparing for a sub can be tough... I would never expect this kind of preparation all the time.... but boy do I love it when I get it!