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January 9, 2017

Welcoming Guest Teachers: 4 Tips for Building a Sub Tub

By Julie Ballew
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    With the holidays behind us, we’re gearing up for what feels like the most intense, focused part of our year. This means that every second of every day counts as we continue to push our kids to exceed our expectations. This doesn’t, however, mean that we won’t get sick or go to workshops, or need to take a day off for some other reason.

    Teaching is one of very few jobs where it is actually easier to come to work with the flu than it is to prepare to miss a day. Oh sure, we could easily leave a stack of color pages or worksheets, but there just isn’t enough time for kids to waste a day if we can’t be there. Fortunately, writing plans and getting organized for a sub doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. Try these tips to get extra organized once, and save a ton of time for the rest of the year. Your guest teachers will thank you!

    1.     Create a “sub tub” that you can keep all year.

    In my classroom, this is a fairly small hanging file box. It is easy to store in a cabinet when I’m not using it, and I keep it on my desk the day before a substitute is coming so that I can load it up as I plan. It is filled with a hanging file folder for each subject that I teach, as well as one labeled “Substitute Info” and one labeled “Extra Assignments.” (I’ll describe those more below.) As I write plans for what will be done in each subject, I run copies and put them in the hanging file. This eliminates the stacks laid out across the table, and I can see at a glance what was completed and what wasn’t when I return. I also put answer keys or teacher’s guides for each subject here, and I tend to keep them there all year. That way, I always know where they are, and the substitute doesn’t have to hunt for them if they get stuck.

    2.     Run copies of every schedule and roster you can think of.

    In the first few days of school, I carry my schedule around all day. Eventually, it becomes so ingrained for myself and my students that I forget I even have a printed copy. Guest teachers don’t have this luxury, so I keep a printed copy of my daily schedule in the Substitute Info folder. I also keep a class roster, a block rotation schedule (for special classes like art and music), and even a list of student logins for the computer, since they always seem to forget these when I’m not here. I also include schedules for any students who are picked up for special classes like speech therapy or enrichment groups. Basically, any schedule that I make in those first few weeks of school goes in the substitute info folder. Even if I don’t need them any longer, a substitute can feel much more equipped if that information is at his or her fingertips. In this folder, I also leave some blank stationery for my substitute to leave me a note about how the day went. This helps with continuity of teaching, and it helps me write plans the next time!

    3.     Stock up on extra assignments!

    I can’t stress this enough: the extra assignments folder should be fully stocked at all times. This work can be anything that would be great extra practice on a skill you have already taught, or it might be back issues of Scholastic News or some other interactive magazine. You could even put handwriting practice here or math fact drills. This folder is not only a great tool for your guest teacher to have ready for early finishers, but if a late emergency comes up and you can’t get formal plans together, you can ask a teammate to pull out your sub tub and have them work their way through the extra assignments. Just remember to replace these assignments as they get used so that it is always stocked with a day’s worth of assignments!

    4.     Tell all of your teammates where your sub tub is stored.

    Speaking of late emergencies, make sure your team knows where you store your sub tub! It’s rare that we wake up sick and don’t have time to get plans together, but we all know emergencies happen. If your sub tub is stocked and your team knows where to find it, you’ve relieved yourself of the worry, and (perhaps even more importantly) you’ve relieved your team of the pressure to scramble around and get something together for your class that morning.

     

    You might still be thinking that it’s easier to show up sick than it is to prepare for a substitute, but I promise if you take some time to get a great sub tub together, you can worry less all year!

    How do you prepare for a guest teacher? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

    With the holidays behind us, we’re gearing up for what feels like the most intense, focused part of our year. This means that every second of every day counts as we continue to push our kids to exceed our expectations. This doesn’t, however, mean that we won’t get sick or go to workshops, or need to take a day off for some other reason.

    Teaching is one of very few jobs where it is actually easier to come to work with the flu than it is to prepare to miss a day. Oh sure, we could easily leave a stack of color pages or worksheets, but there just isn’t enough time for kids to waste a day if we can’t be there. Fortunately, writing plans and getting organized for a sub doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. Try these tips to get extra organized once, and save a ton of time for the rest of the year. Your guest teachers will thank you!

    1.     Create a “sub tub” that you can keep all year.

    In my classroom, this is a fairly small hanging file box. It is easy to store in a cabinet when I’m not using it, and I keep it on my desk the day before a substitute is coming so that I can load it up as I plan. It is filled with a hanging file folder for each subject that I teach, as well as one labeled “Substitute Info” and one labeled “Extra Assignments.” (I’ll describe those more below.) As I write plans for what will be done in each subject, I run copies and put them in the hanging file. This eliminates the stacks laid out across the table, and I can see at a glance what was completed and what wasn’t when I return. I also put answer keys or teacher’s guides for each subject here, and I tend to keep them there all year. That way, I always know where they are, and the substitute doesn’t have to hunt for them if they get stuck.

    2.     Run copies of every schedule and roster you can think of.

    In the first few days of school, I carry my schedule around all day. Eventually, it becomes so ingrained for myself and my students that I forget I even have a printed copy. Guest teachers don’t have this luxury, so I keep a printed copy of my daily schedule in the Substitute Info folder. I also keep a class roster, a block rotation schedule (for special classes like art and music), and even a list of student logins for the computer, since they always seem to forget these when I’m not here. I also include schedules for any students who are picked up for special classes like speech therapy or enrichment groups. Basically, any schedule that I make in those first few weeks of school goes in the substitute info folder. Even if I don’t need them any longer, a substitute can feel much more equipped if that information is at his or her fingertips. In this folder, I also leave some blank stationery for my substitute to leave me a note about how the day went. This helps with continuity of teaching, and it helps me write plans the next time!

    3.     Stock up on extra assignments!

    I can’t stress this enough: the extra assignments folder should be fully stocked at all times. This work can be anything that would be great extra practice on a skill you have already taught, or it might be back issues of Scholastic News or some other interactive magazine. You could even put handwriting practice here or math fact drills. This folder is not only a great tool for your guest teacher to have ready for early finishers, but if a late emergency comes up and you can’t get formal plans together, you can ask a teammate to pull out your sub tub and have them work their way through the extra assignments. Just remember to replace these assignments as they get used so that it is always stocked with a day’s worth of assignments!

    4.     Tell all of your teammates where your sub tub is stored.

    Speaking of late emergencies, make sure your team knows where you store your sub tub! It’s rare that we wake up sick and don’t have time to get plans together, but we all know emergencies happen. If your sub tub is stocked and your team knows where to find it, you’ve relieved yourself of the worry, and (perhaps even more importantly) you’ve relieved your team of the pressure to scramble around and get something together for your class that morning.

     

    You might still be thinking that it’s easier to show up sick than it is to prepare for a substitute, but I promise if you take some time to get a great sub tub together, you can worry less all year!

    How do you prepare for a guest teacher? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

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