- Prepare mentally. As you drive, visualize your confident competence, and/or pray for favor with staff and students, wisdom, insight, confidence, anything you feel you need to have a good day. And expect a good, challenging, successful day.
- Check in with the office staff, introduce yourself, get teaching plan, schedule, map or directions, names of people to call for assistance.
- Bring your basic supplies to the classroom and stash them near your desk: water bottle, snack, lunch, extra writing tools, a notebook, and some riddles, mental puzzles, group games that require no props, etc., for lag times.
- Read the sub plans carefully, underline key items for quick reference, jot down bell schedule if it’s not included on the plans.
- Write the basic plan on the board for students (and your) easy reference. Also write your name.
- Make a classroom tour. Locate all materials and supplies, and check equipment functions. See what other supplies, books, and charts are there. If you have time, look at posted or shelved student work.
- In your notebook or on scrap paper, draw a rough seating map. Some students like the freedom to switch seats when a sub shows up, and since you don’t know names and faces, it’s a good idea to make an up-to-date map. As each class arrives, you can have a student fill in the names, or go around yourself and jot them down. I prefer the latter. Students seem to appreciate the small check-in, and I tell them I want to be able to call them by their names. If they joke around and give a false name, I go with it tell them I’m going to use the one they give, and expect them to answer to it. Usually that brings out the truth. THIS SEATING MAP IS MY MOST USEFUL TOOL!
- When class starts, get attention and introduce yourself simply, pointing out your name on the board. I hope at this point you can communicate that you’re glad to be there and meet them all. Then get busy right away with first items, and keep it moving.
- Stay alert to “testers,” and win them over with subtle communications (shake of head from across the room, touch on shoulder while talking to class generally, specific, quiet instructions, etc.) while protecting their dignity (Don’t stare at them, single them out, frown them down, come down hard without warning). Try to give most of your positive attention to those engaged with the learning process, and keep things moving.
- Carry your seating chart around (and schedule/plans, if you like) on a clipboard, with a notebook to jot down anything that helps you–notes by names of students, who’s out at the library or bathroom & when they left, questions for regular teacher, etc. When students ask what you are writing, tell them.
- If necessary after prolonged sitting, give students the opportunity to stand, stretch, and get their wiggles out.
- Ask students for help–most appreciate the opportunity to be useful. Where do you keep supplies? Does Mr. R___ read this aloud? What’s the next door teacher’s name again?
- Ask for students’ thoughts and opinions on the material, or anything that might make a good discussion (hands really are necessary to hear everyone, even with older students). Try to wrap things up with some synthesis or review.
- Say goodbye, and thanks.
Tips for substitute teachers