Monday, September 26, 2016

Are You Making This Big Mistake With Sub Plans?

Are You Making This Big Mistake With Sub Plans? by A Word On Third


You know what I REALLY don't like? I absolutely, positively detest...
  • having to come into school at 6 AM to leave out sub plans when I'm sick.
  • coming into school the day after a sick day and finding my room a mess.
  • coming into school the day after a sick day and finding my lesson plans were not followed.
  • having students work on pointless busy-work because I won't be in.
The list goes on! And do you know why this was happening? I was making things too complicated for myself. WAY. TOO. COMPLICATED. Are you making the same mistake? I figured this system out last year and am so much happier for it!

When it comes to sub plans, simple is better. Let me show you how to beast it with your sub plans so you: never have to come in to school on a sick day ever again, leave meaningful work for your students, and return to school finding that your students had the productive days you intended them to have. Yes, it really can be done.


1. Write a list of essential information and routines.
Type it out for your substitute and explain exactly what should happen. If you have a list saved on file, you'll never have to write it again. You'll only have to edit it over the years as your routines change along with you.

Great routine and information lists should include things like:
  • Class list (you can even star a student or two's names if they can help)
  • Class schedule
  • Emergency drill routines (perhaps provided by the school)
  • PM pack up routines
  • AM unpacking routines
  • Clean up routines
  • Flexible seating routines (if applicable)
  • Behavior management philosophy (I include a request to NOT write students name on the board as punishment, resort to giving stickers as prizes, etc. You might include positive reinforcement supplies, like "good choice" certificates or something of that nature if you use them in your room).

2. Create an easy, re-usable lesson plan for each subject/class that you teach.

Start by creating a template for each day of the week. Then create your lesson plans. Then copy and paste them into the right places in your templateI'll share some basic ones that I use. Hopefully this covers most of what you teach!

Morning Meeting:
Greeting- Students will greet each other in different languages.
Share- Have students go around the circle to share how they will take care of their learning with the guest teacher. (Another great one for substitute teachers is to play "A Little Known Fact About Me").
Activity- Play "Awake Alert Alive" and have a student lead it.
Morning Message- Read and discuss the morning message. (I usually have the kids write one way they'll take care of their learning while the sub is present and jot their thinking on a post-it. You can make and laminate a morning message to use every day you're out and just leave it in your sub folder. Alternatively, you can just have the substitute teacher talk to the kids about the message you already wrote with the understanding that you might not do all that's left in the message since you're out).

Reader's and/or Writer's Workshop:
Tell the kids they will be having a marathon period, which means they will get extra time to practice what they’ve been doing in class. Have them discuss what reader’s/writer's workshop should look and sound like. Next have them think about what strategy they will practice today to push their reading or writing further and why. They can look at the charts in the room to help them make decisions. Have the kids turn and talk to their partner to tell them their choice and why. Share out some answers. Then have the kids read or write independently. Circulate and check in with kids if they need help. Ask them what their goal is, how they’re reaching it, and to prove that they are reaching it. This will help them be more productive.

Math:
Students start by finishing any unfinished math work that they have. Then they can play a variety of games that they already know. Ideal games to use for this are games for early finishers or games they already played that involve many skills. In my classroom, kids check out the math cart (that is always available to them) and make a choice. Easy-peasy!

Science/SS: Leave a book or article to read and discuss as a class. I usually leave a packet of Time For Kids articles in my folder, and I replace them when they run out.

Word Study: Students can edit their writing and look for spelling patterns they can correct.


3. Put it all together in a folder.
Tell a colleague about this folder. Put it in an obvious place in your room. Put post-its on your folder labeling things. On the left side of the folder, I stick on a post-it that says "Lesson Plans- Pull out the appropriate day of the week," and on the right side of the folder, I put all of my routines/information.


4. Enjoy.
YOU'RE DONE. NOW DO A HAPPY DANCE! Seriously, it could not be any easier if you tried. You've left the most meaningful work for your students that you can leave for a sub, and you will walk into a clean room the next day.


What are your sub secrets? Comment below!



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