Tips From a Sub: Part I
Teachers have a lot on their plate during the beginning of a school year. Yet worst of all, the sudden influx of new students mean that teachers are far more likely to get sick within the first few weeks. This means that, in addition to setting up their classroom and struggling to learn names, teachers also have to be prepared just in case they need a few days off.
So heed my words: Your substitute teacher cannot succeed unless you put in some prep work. It may be yet another annoyance, but it’s necessary and will make people willing to continue working for you throughout the year.
As time allows, I’ll be posting a few tips and tricks that you can use in order to prepare for your substitute teacher. We’ll love you for it!
How It Starts: “But Mrs Smith lets us!”
The Problem: Unless you have your classroom rules prominently displayed or printed out on your desk, then I don’t know what sorts of liberties you allow your students. I don’t know if little Johnny is telling the truth when he says that he can borrow pencils off your desk, or if Jane is lying when she says that she can hand in her homework by the end of the day. That leaves me in the awkward position of either taking away privileges that the students are legitimately allowed to have or being too lenient by giving in to their lies.
The Solution: Get your classroom rules in order. It can be as simple as having your students write up a poster or as complicated as typing up 10 pages worth of notes. Just give me a basic run-down of how you manage your classroom. Then, and this is the important part, write down this magical phrase: “Any additional requests made by the students may be turned down at your discretion.”
That one little sentence solves more problems than you could ever imagine. It means that I don’t have to constantly battle with the mental gymnastics of “What would Mrs Smith do? This request isn’t on the list, maybe she forgot to write it down, is it still allowed?” It means that I can rule with an iron fist if the class gets out of hand. It means that when your students whine to you tomorrow, you can say “Oh well! You should have listened to the substitute, she was only following my directions. Deal with it, kiddo.”