Creative classroom management strategies from fellow teachers and our experts.
Be Our Guest
I’ve always insisted on phrasing it as “guest teachers,” and I insist that any guest who enters our classroom be treated well. —Jill P.
Talk It Over
I ask the sub to leave me a note about how the day went to process with the students. They are surprisingly honest when I ask them how it went, what parts they’re proud of, and what they could work on next time. —Michelle F.
Practice Makes Perfect
Toward the beginning of the year, I tell students we’re having a “substitute practice” week. On a few days that week, I’ll arrange to have a teacher or administrator greet the students and take attendance before I come in. For every day that the class behaves well for the substitute practice, we end with a fun game! —Christie P.
I would tell a peanut butter and jelly story. I’d say, “Your mom may make a sandwich with peanut butter on one side and jelly on the other. But your grandma might put the peanut butter and the jelly on the same piece of bread. Does the sandwich still taste the same?” I told them that teachers may do things differently, but the outcome will be about the same, and it will be okay. —Heather E.
As a substitute teacher, one thing that I really appreciate is when teachers leave both their regular plans and alternate plans, just in case. —Julie L.
Always have a fun backup as extra work if lessons are done early. I even give hints of a fun activity they may get to do if they finish their work with the substitute. —Lindsey O.
Ready, Set, Teach
I keep one shelf filled with ready-to-teach lessons in case I can’t make it in to prep for a sub. And I leave a note in my sub folder that says where to locate emergency sub supplies! —Michelle E.
My sixth graders and I brainstorm a list of how we felt on the first day of school with new classmates, new teachers, etc., and why it was stressful. Then, we discuss how every day is like this for substitute teachers. We talk about what I did to help them feel comfortable, and I say it is their job to do that for anyone new who comes into the room, whether it’s a new teacher or a student. —Jennifer K.
On the Same Page
I use a student–sub contract. It reminds kids how to behave and lists the day’s agenda. Each student signs one after the sub reviews it with them. The kids leave the contracts on their desks at the end of the day, and the substitute can leave me notes on the back of any given child’s contract. —Anissa J.
Photo: Adam Chinitz
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