August 25, 2019

Subbing Made Simple

After teaching in the classroom for twelve years and taking a several year break for career and  family reasons, I decided to try my hand at substitute teaching in Florida. When I made the decision to substitute I was nervous about handling groups of students I’d never met, but I quickly found strategies to keep me sane and keep the students on track.

The first thing that helps me in Elementary is to memorize as many faces and names as possible in the first hour. Because I’m good at this I can quickly get control and pin point talkers and wanderer’s by name. If you aren’t a quick study at faces and names, make a note of potential students who are too chatty or out of their seat often in the first lesson. When I have these types I simply stay close to their desk. That alone improves their behavior, paired with using their name is highly effective.

Another effective strategy is to use my blackberry for music that is soothing during worktime. It’s unusual to most kids and they generally like it. I also try to figure out what reward system their teacher uses, ie cards, stickers, stamp. This way I can remind the students of the fact they will be rewarded if they have apporopriate behavior. If they chose to act out then they pull a card or don’t receive a positive stamp in their homework notebook at the end of the day.

I enjoy working with Middle School and do much of my subbing there. The most effective strategy I’ve found is to treat the students with respect. They are not children and the respond well to being treated like the young adults they are. Right up front I clearly state my expectations and the rewards they will receive for being respectful and productive. My best reward tip with Middle School is to offer them the use of their Ipod or music player when all work has been completed satisfactorily. Teens love music and this reward keeps them focused and also keeps things calm if there is extra time after the lesson.

If I do have a problem student, and occassionally I do, I nip it in the bud early. I never back them in a proverbial corner. If they are being unruly I give them options: you can sit down in your area and continue working quietly or if you need to you can move over here where it’s quieter.  if you can’t do either of those then I will have to send you to the grade level house. Here in my subsitute district each grade level has a grade level house (room) and students go there for discipine and issues. Most importantly, I follow through. If I give them a chance and they continue to mess it up then I have them escorted to the grade level house. Being clear, giving them options and following through are key with Middle School students. What I’ve found in most cases is nipping it in the bud makes everyone else realize you mean business and they step up and cooperate the rest of the period.

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