Substitute Teaching Tips

Hello! Happy Summer!

This post is going be all about substitute teaching and tips that would be beneficial to new subs! After graduation in May, I applied for my certification and I registered with the substitute teacher service for my county. My goal was to daily sub for the last few weeks of school to get my feet wet, gain some experience, keep me busy until my summer job started, and earn a bit of money.

I highly suggested substitute teaching ASAP once you graduate. If you are anything like me, you still are wondering, even after passing your certification tests and graduating you are still wondering, “Can I do this?”Of course you can, but subbing helped me to gain confidence in my teaching and classroom management right off the bat.

Now, there is daily subbing and long or short term subbing-I only daily subbed since I graduated in May and there weren’t a lot of month long positions available. Through the duration of my substitute teaching I was in five different buildings in four different school districts over the course of about three weeks. The following are just a few tips I have or some reactions I have that may help any other substitute teachers in the same boat!

1. Be Professional: Being professional covers many different topics. As a newly graduate teacher I was all about making first impressions as I applied for a permanent position in three districts I subbed in.

  • Make sure to dress professionally, even if it’s a dress down day, don’t. But remember some schools might not have air conditioning–since I was subbing towards the end of spring this was an issue–so, Ladies, make sure if you have a cardigan or sweater on, the straps underneath are still appropriate to be worn alone if needed.
  • Be on time, or if you’re like me, be early! Make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the school and prepare for your day.
  • Use appropriate language and don’t gossip with the building teachers. You may know some of the teachers in the building if you’re familiar with the area and school or the teachers may talk about other things in front of you. Keep your head down; don’t engage.

2. What to Do When You Arrive: When you arrive to the school for your day, you’ll most likely need to check in at the office. Here you will be directed to the classroom you’ll be in for the day and possibly pick up lesson plans and a school badge. The service I sub for issued me an ID badge, but schools might give you one as well!

3. Stepping into the Classroom: When you first step into the classroom, begin to orient yourself. Figure out where the student bathrooms are in relation to your classroom & the staff bathrooms as well. Find the route to the cafeteria, playground, and any other “specials” the students may have that day.

  • Next, I look for the lesson plans for the day. Typically these will be laid out on the classroom teacher’s desk or a table in the room. Sometimes you might have very detailed plans and other times it may be the bare minimum. No matter what read them. Make sure you do what the teacher wants you to do and execute it in the way they present it, even if you think it could be done better.
  • Familiarize yourself with items in the classroom. Locate the pencil sharpener, tissues, trash cans, and student cubbies or hooks. Other items to look for are classroom rules and a behavior management system like a clip chart, fill-up jar, point system, etc. The teacher should have mention of these systems in his or her lesson plans.
  • Another thing I like to to is walk around the room with a class list and work on saying each student’s name and finding out where he or she sits. Then, when they walk in and sit down I can work on attaching the name to the face.

4. If there are no plans on the desk DON’T FREAK OUT: Story Time…so I went to sub for a full day at a building in the district I grew up in. I got to the school about 45 minutes early (I’m also crazy about being late) so I had enough time to read through the plans but they weren’t there *cue the panic*. All I had were instructions for a directed drawing and the paper that went with it. It turns out one of the team teachers was supposed to print out the plans and bring them to me. She did bring them over and crisis averted.

5. Eat Lunch in the Classroom: This is a handy tip even if you have a permanent teaching position. As a substitute it is good to use the time during lunch to read over the plans for the afternoon and prep if needed. But as I mentioned before, it would be good not to get caught up in the potential drama of the faculty room. Also, I am a shy person so being alone in the classroom is more comfortable to me. But don’t alienate yourself from other teachers in the building. Say hi and smile in the hallway. Introduce yourself to the team teachers. I meshed really well with a few team teachers I subbed with and they offered me really good advice for job hunting, teaching with a family, and working towards my Masters degree!

6. Take Notes: Take notes throughout the day. Write down how the activities and lessons went. Keep an account of student behavior as well. The classroom teacher will appreciate this when he or she gets back.

7. Walk Around the Room: As you instruct walk around the room. Make your presence known. Students will realize that you are in charge and proximity control is a great classroom management tool. Check in with students as they are working. Try and learn a bit about the students throughout the day.

8. Clean the Room Before You Leave: Make sure the classroom is cleaned up from the day. Make it look how it did when you walked in. Don’t go through the teacher’s things, but straighten up and make sure the lesson plans and left over copies are neat on the desk or tables.

9. Fill Out Report and Bring it to the Office: The school may have a form to fill out at the end of your subbing day. These are pretty generic and allow the classroom teacher to evaluate your performance and what you did well. It also allows them to say if they would like you back in their classroom to substitute! Make sure to fill this out in detail and turn it in!

10. Check For Jobs the Night Before: For the substitute service I’m with, I can search for jobs for the following day the night before. This is really helpful because if I secure a position the night before I don’t get any early morning phone calls and I can plan my morning accordingly.

11. Roll With It: One of the biggest things to stress when being a substitute teacher is being flexible. You never know what your day will bring or what the plans will have you doing so being able to roll with the punches is quality that teachers need to have.

I know these “tips” were all over the place but I hope that someone out there finds them helpful. Comment down below with anything that you have to add! Thanks for reading!!

-O

 

All About: Science!

Happy Saturday!

Today I’m going to take a bit of time to discuss science teaching that I have been doing. I am now entering my third month of full time student teaching. I am finishing out my time in the science/math fourth grade class before transitioning back to ELA.

For our teacher prep program we are expected to create and teach a unit–no big deal right? Well most of my cohort is teaching social studies. In our placement district, social studies can only be taught at the end of the third marking period and fourth marking period, so they have a bit more time to plan and carry out their units. I however, am in the midst of finishing up my science unit! I spent a good portion of my winter break planning and prepping this unit and boy, is it a relief to be almost finished.

My unit is on weather and climate and my students are rocking this unit! I started out the unit with a pre-test to gain some baseline data about what they did or did not know about weather. I will give the same test–with a few added questions–at the end of the unit (aka THIS FIRDAY!).

Topics we have covered include:

  • What is the difference between weather and climate?
  • What do climatologists and meteorologists do?
  • Where are different storms (tornadoes, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, and blizzards) found, what are the dangers, and how are they formed?
  • Land vs Sea Breezes
  • Fronts
  • Convection Tube Investigations
  • Water Cycle
  • Clouds
  • Hurricane Katrina

All we have left is a guest visit from a local meteorologist, our mini lesson on Hurricane Katrina, a review day, and the final assessment!

*PAUSE for a hot second*

My students were not alive for Hurricane Katrina. This is insane to me. The were all born a year later.

*UNPAUSE*

I am so impressed with my students. This unit had a great deal of group work with our investigations and my students were able to work well with their assigned science groups and with randomized groups. I think that they enjoyed some of the things we worked on, especially the punk stick inquiries where we were able to view the convection process happening, playing catch with the world to show the ratio of water to land that covers Earth, creating a weather forecast and presenting to the class, and finally making clouds out of cotton balls. When we finished our cotton ball cloud activity I had two students who normally don’t participate in class or stay engaged for even half a lesson come up to me and say thank you for planning such a fun activity. I took a look at their clouds after school, and it was some of their best work!

I really hope that when I gain a permanent teaching position I am able to teach a weather unit!

Do you have a favorite unit to teach? It doesn’t have to be science related. Comment below! Sorry this post was basically me rambling…but I hope you enjoyed!

-O

 

 

“No Candy” Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching this week! On Tuesday boys and girls everywhere will be handing out cards and sweets treats to their classmates. Couples everywhere will be celebrating their love.

This year at my student teaching placement, we are passing out Valentines on Tuesday on the “real” day, but having our Valentine’s Day party on the 16th as this is the last day before our long President’s Day weekend.

I spent part of last weekend and this weekend making Valentines for my students. I have 42 students, so this can be time consuming. This year I decided that there is enough candy being passed around, so I wanted to give my students a candy-less treat.

On Pinterest, I found a wonderful idea! See image below:

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I found packs of 16 bubble tubes with little hearts on the top at Target. They are the Spritz party brand. I then printed the tags, wrote my name, and used ribbon to tie the tag to the bubbles. I bought an extra pouch of the bubbles as well to add to my prize box!

I can’t wait to see my students’ reaction to their treats. What is a Valentine’s Day tradition you have or what is your favorite Valentine you’ve ever received–comment down below.

Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

-O

 

All About: Student Teaching

Wow! It’s been a little over two months since I began my “pre-service” student teaching. I’ve been going to my placement twice a week since my students started school at the end of August. When I return after winter break in January, I will be working with the same students and mentor teachers but I will be there everyday of the week!

But a bit more about my placement: I am working with two wonderful 4th grade classes & their teachers are my mentors. The elementary school I’m placed at is a K-5 building and is very local to my university so I will be staying here next semester (unlike many of my classmates and friends). At this school, the fourth grade departmentalizes which means that out of the two classes, one teacher teaches English/Language Arts/Reading & the other teaches Math/Science. For the first seven weeks of this fall semester, I was placed in the ELA classroom. I have just recently switched over to the Math/Science class for the remainder of the semester and for the first 8 weeks of next semester. There is also a co-student teacher from my university who is in the other 4th grade class when I’m not there.

One of my first lessons in this new class was a science lesson highlighting the Engineering Design Process and working with circuits. This was the first time that I had ever taught a science lesson that was longer than a day or two. I taught this during the full week I was in the school–last week. It went very well I only taught one of the classes as my co-student teacher taught the other class.

I also am already planning my first full unit for after January. It is all about weather and climate. I’m excited to plan some exciting, interactive activities for my kiddos to do. I’m thinking of having a “meteorologist” each day and one student will help record the weather data and then at the end of the week we’ll average the temperature and look at the trends throughout the entire unit. Was it getting colder or warmer? Did we have any snow? How much? 

I really enjoyed helping to start the first writing unit when I was in the ELA room and I look forward to going back in the spring and helping with writing again and book clubs.

I’m really thrilled with my placement & I’m excited to get on with next semester!

If you’re student teaching right now, tell me what grade/classes are you teaching? Do you love it!?

-O

 

 

Spook-tacular Boo Pops!

Happy Halloween! (okay this is late….sue me)

This year Halloween fell on a Monday. It also happened to fall on the first day of my first full week of student teaching. I’ve been in the classroom for the past ten weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays in 4th grade. But this week we are at our placements for the full week to give us an idea of what “real student teaching” is like. My students had a Halloween parade on Friday afternoon which I unfortunately couldn’t attend as I had my block classes during that time but I thought I would still make them a special treat for Halloween.

I decided on what I’ve dubbed as “Boo Pops”. They are lollipop ghosts!  These were so simple to make which was awesome because I had to make enough for two classes ( I actually ended up making 50 total to give to other student teachers/paras).

Materials: Lollipops, tissues, ribbon, sharpie

All you do is wrap the tissue around the top of the lollipop and then hold it in place with a ribbon. I chose orange and black for “halloween colors”. Then I took a black sharpie and drew eyes on the ghost.

My kiddos loved them–I passed them out to both classes while they were away at special. Two of my students however don’t celebrate Halloween, so I just gave them the lollipops! I realize this is controversial and some might say I shouldn’t do anything for the holiday then, but these two students understand and so do their families and were happy to still be included in the candy count!

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But in my opinion, THANK GOODNESS Halloween is over. Let’s get on to Thanksgiving!!

I hope everyone had a spooktacular day….

-O

Block-time Fun-time

This semester exciting things are happening. I’ve started my Language and Literacy  Education (LL ED) block–or junior block as some schools call it! I have five core classes:

LL ED 400: Reading

LL ED 401: Writing

LL ED 402: Children’s Literature

ART ED 303: Elementary Art

MUSIC 241: Music for Classroom Teachers

Then on top of that I’m taking another Special Education class and working on an Independent Study project (see future blog posts on this topic!).

At the end of the second week of class I can say that my classes are wonderful. They’re a lot of work and I’m already really stresses out for sure, but  can’t wait to keep learning and growing as a pre-service teacher.

I have my blocks with the same group of people everyday and slowly we’re getting to know each other and become friends. It also helps that I have one of my best friends in my class as well!

For the children’s lit class this week, we had to read Charlotte’s Web and Where the Wild Things Are. Two of my very favorites from my childhood!

We also are going into an elementary school and an early childhood center for the reading/writing and music classes. I’m really excited for the upcoming experiences and opportunities this semester has to offer!

Stay tuned for a blog post on my first project from ART ED…a behavior chart!

With the “Snowmageddon” that’s supposed to arrive this weekend along the mid/north-Atlantic I hope you all stay safe and warm!

-O

In Two Years…

…I’ll be almost done with my student teaching semester. I’m sitting here, as a second semester sophomore writing my “Educational Philosophy” as an assignment for one of my classes. I can’t help but think…what will my classroom REALLY be like? I highly doubt that I’ll actually be doing the things I say I will be doing now in two, three years. After all, I have so much more to learn.

My mom (who has been teaching for twenty years) says that you don’t really find out your teaching style until you’re actually in the classroom your first week of your first year. It’s like on the go training.

I’m rather scared though. I know that this is the career path I want to take–heck, I’ve known it since I was five or six, maybe younger, but I still get scared and worried that I just won’t be able to hack it. I look at my mom and all the other wonderful teachers I know both elementary and secondary levels, and I think that I’ll never be like them.

I go on Pinterest and fine all these amazing classrooms, lessons from TPT, and I just can’t help but think that won’t be me! I know once I get there; once I reach student teaching and beyond I’ll be okay. I believe that I do have the makings to become one of those great teachers.

A dorky picture of me in my mom's second grade classroom.

A dorky picture of me in my mom’s second grade classroom.

From the 4th grade class I taught in in Philly!

From the 4th grade class I taught in in Philly!