3.16.2009

Teachers: How to Help Your Substitute

Programming note: Due to our internet outage, I was unable to post my popular Foreign Affairs Friday post last week. That feature will resume this week. I also never got around to a 24 post last week. That feature will return tonight.

I thought I would put together a list of tips for teachers, based on my long-time experience as a substitute teacher, on how to make things easier for your sub. Here we go:
  • Use a seating chart, and share it with your sub. This keeps the ruffians apart, but they will switch seats if they think the sub doesn't have the chart.
  • Distribute a limited number of bathroom passes per grading period. Let the sub know you do this. This prevents kids from excessively asking to leave the room. If they have only one pass left, that "emergency" bathroom trip all of a sudden isn't quite so urgent.
  • Leave a lot of work to do. A busy kid is one that has less time to get in trouble. Make sure they know the work is graded, too (even if it isn't).
  • Tell the kids there will be a big punishment if the sub reports a student to you for bad behavior. Back it up.
  • Make classroom rules clear. For example, can kids use iPods (I don't think they should, but some teachers do)? Can they work together? "The teacher lets us do it" doesn't work if you tell the sub you don't.
  • Have another teacher check in once in awhile.
  • Leave the name of a mean, disliked teacher that the sub can threaten the kids to go talk to. (I found out the name of one such teacher once, and it was a great threat.)

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