Q | I am filling in for a teacher on maternity leave. How do I best take over a new classroom midyear?
A | Because you are filling in, you will want to follow the regular teacher’s guidelines and general plans so that the transition is as seamless as possible for students and their families.
During the first week, you may want to send a letter home to parents introducing yourself and telling them how pleased you are to have the opportunity to work with their children. Encourage them to get in touch with you if they have any concerns.
As the kids become more comfortable with you as their teacher, you will be able to introduce some of your own ideas and activities, but be sure to stay within the established curriculum. Check with your grade-level colleagues when you have questions—or with the regular teacher if she is available.
By the way, if you are hoping to land a full-time teaching job in this school, filling in as a long-term substitute is a great opportunity to showcase your classroom management skills and curricular expertise. It’s also a good way to demonstrate that you are a team player, have a sense of humor, and genuinely like kids. Just remember to be respectful of the regular teacher’s way of doing things even if you wouldn’t do them exactly that way.
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Suzanne Tingley is a former teacher, principal, superintendent, and education professor. Her Practical Leadership blog can be found at scholastic.com/administrator.