Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher is having a linky party to trade secrets and tips on how to get a class to behave for a substitue teacher. I finished my graduate internship and graduated at an awkward time of year (December) when not many schools were hiring teachers. I was blessed enough to have done my internship at an amazing school with an amazing principal who asked me to stay on as a permanent sub and then found me a teaching position for the following year. That being said, I have done my fair share of subbing (every school day from January to June) and I have learned quite a lot about how teachers can set me up for success or failure.
1. Actual Teaching: I HATED subbing when all I did was crowd control and pass out different worksheets! It is such a harder day because the students get bored easily and I was fighting to try and keep them on task all day. When teachers left me actual lessons to teach (they don't have to be introducing new material, just review lessons or anything where students are engaged in whole group/teacher led/small group activity) students were much more focused and well behaved.
2. Rewards/Consequences: I found it so helpful when teachers would leave me notes saying if students behave they can get on the computer, have extra recess, get a treat at the end of the day, etc. OR if students don't behave you can take away some recess time, tell them you will leave their name, take away computer time, etc. When I knew what the classroom reward/consequences were I was able to hold students to a higher level of accountability because I could administer discipline on the spot vs. just saying "I will tell your teacher".
3. Special Students: I also found it helpful when teachers would leave me names of students who could be trusted/helpful and names of students who I needed to keep on eye on because they were bossy/mean/rude/sneaky/bullies/etc. I have found that students can be sneaky while their teacher is away and try to trick the sub into letting them do things they are not normally allowed to do. Knowing which students are trustworthy really helped me because I could verify quickly with them if the students were actually allowed to do something (SOOOO HELPFUL). Also, I could call the difficult friends over at the beginning of the day or the first time they did something wrong and discuss with them calmly and sweetly how I am aware of what trouble they can have sometimes but that I know we won't have any of that trouble today, etc. Being able to nip negative student behavior in the bud really helped throughout the day.
4. Freedom: I always enjoyed getting a note from the teacher saying I can rearrange the day as necessary or do whatever I needed to in the classroom that day. These notes made me feel good because it let me know the teacher trusted my ability. Also, teachers can sometimes over or underestimate how long an assignment will take so knowing that I have the freedom to rearrange the schedule made me more relaxed and let me know I could move around the order of some subjects so we could get everything completed. This also gave me more control in the classroom because I didn't have to deal with students saying "...but we normally do it this way".
So overall these are the things I found most helpful. I hope this list helps you! Enjoy!
P.S. It is always great when a teacher can prepare the class by telling them ahead of time that she will be out or writing a short note for the sub to read aloud. This prepares the students and lets them know that even though their teachers isn't in the building she is still thinking about them and expects them to behave their personal best!