Sunday, November 24, 2013

iphone 5, Android or ipad are a Substitute Teacher's BFF

     Black Friday is in a few days! If you don't have an Apple iPhone 5smart phone or tablet - run to your nearest electronic store to buy one or skip the lines to buy online. Let's be honest, how many times have you been baffled by a lesson plan item?  For example, a teacher leaves a math worksheet, but (yikes!) it's something printed off the internet with no Answer Key and you haven't worked with the concept in years. Here's where your  iphone, android or  tablet comes to the rescue! A quick google search on your phone before the first bell rings or during a break can ease your stress. The answer is at our fingertips, since we can't use the class computer (usual policy).  I recently had a "Hail Mary" save by my smart phone when I discovered sudoku worksheets in the students math lessons. You see, I'm a words person - reading and writing are my forte.  I'd rather do a crossword puzzle when it comes to relaxation -  Sudoku
 and other math games are not my first choice.  Since this was a "fun packet" - there was no key. Luckily, I had plenty of time to look up and get the hang of the concept before math period. Even luckier for me, it was a lower grade level, so a fairly easy worksheet for a beginner. Whew! Guess what? I'm a fan now and have added a sudoku book in my magical Mary Poppins sub bag - ready to run off for extra fillers!
      My fellow substitute teachers, applaud yourselves. For the most part, we epitomize the saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none".  Of course we all have our single subject strengths, but as subs we often are out of our comfort zone. Arrive early to thoroughly examine the day's lesson plans.  Remember, you may need to quickly research background information on a lesson.
      I'm baffled by some substitute teachers lackadaisical habit of arriving moments before school starts ... but that's not you, our readers are always the Savvy Sub!        

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tips for Substitute Teaching: Craft time

Our mission at the Fine Art of Substitute Teaching is to suggest many substitute teaching tips to enhance and improve your experiences. In your "Mary Poppins Bag" , be sure to include inexpensive items like coffee filters , Popsicle sticks,small empty spray bottle, a bag of "Googly Eyes" and other dollar store finds. Let your imagination go wild. Classrooms usually have ample construction paper you can utilize. For example: Man a craft station with each child getting a paper towel. Place coffee filter on paper towel and have students color the "flower" with bright felt pens. Squirt water on the filter and listen to their "oohs and ahs" as they watch the colors bleed. These dry fast. After drying, they can twist the bottom and open it like a flower. You can attach it to a Popsicle stick and they have made a lovely flower. Another simple project is teach them how to draw an animal or person on the white board. Have them draw/color theirs on a piece of white construction paper and use googly eyes! Hear them giggle with delight! There are many slim "Teach How to Draw" books that will be a good addition to your substitute teaching bag. Substitute Teaching Tip: Popsicle ( Craft Sticks ) are inexpensive, yet valuable in the classroom. If the classroom doesn't have Popsicle sticks or another method of choosing students, utilize yours by writing student names/numbers on one end and place in cup. When reading outloud or answering questions from an assignment, draw a student's stick and it's their turn. Set aside each drawn stick until everyone has been called on. This is handy when I'm in a class for a few days. When I leave, I pass out the sticks to the students who can use them for a bookmark later.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Teachers, Students and Social Networking

Remember Mister Rogers' song, " Please won't you be my neighbor?"

Add a 21st century twist to the lyrics and it could ring, "Please won't you be my social networking friend?"

A clearly simple click of the mouse connects you and a potential MySpace, Twitter or Facebook "friend". What if that friend is a student from one of the classes you teach?

I personally believe students and teachers should keep a respectful distance outside of the classroom. It's scary to think how commonplace it is for elementary school children to have social networking accounts with free reign and little supervision. They innocently are adding all the friends they can and often compare notes at school. "I have xxx friends, how many do YOU have?" Competitively cruel!

The next time a student asks you to be his or her social networking "friend", think twice before clicking "accept". Maintain a  conservative policy that the only children under 18 you social network with are your children, relatives or close family friend.

Some may say mine is a paranoid attitude, but I call it professionalism.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Substitute Teaching: We are Experts at Improv!

My fellow substitute teachers: don't quit your day job, but we most likely could moonlight on "Saturday Night Live"!

Substitute teaching is alot like doing improvisational comedy. In fact, at times it is a comedy of errors. We are thrown material and must make it work. The key is to take the lead from a good comic, if a joke (in our case: lesson) bombs, shake it off and move on. Our audience may grasp it the next time.
Realize that we are given a script in the form of a lesson plan. Some scripts are better than others, but it's all have to go on. Many lesson plans you encounter will be sketchy at best. What makes you a good substitute is improvise with the tools at hand and contents from your "Mary Poppins" bag of back up classroom activities. (see previous posts for ideas).
Substitute teaching beckons me back to my days of competing in high school and collegiate speech tournaments. My favorite categories to compete were Impromptu and Extemporaneous - subbing is similarly thinking on the fly. Substitute teachers try to keep one step ahead of our students. Don't show the kids you messed up, move on like any professional comic or performer. So, go dust your self off and get back on that horse!
Note to students: give your sub a break and don't throw tomatoes if you don't get our joke (lesson)! :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Classroom Behavior Incentive Suggestion

My blog followers know that I'm a big believer in behavior incentive "tricks". These are a substitute teacher's best friends. I'm known among the students I teach for bringing Smarties or stickers. However, if you forget your ""Mary Poppins Bag"" full of magical substitute teaching tricks (see previous blog posts) - don't worry! All you need is the classroom's white board and a marker.
The class may already be divided into numbered or named groups. If not, you'll have to make your own. Just divide the class into 4 to 6 groups depending on the size of the class.

After roll call, I label the board with the title: GROUPS, and then 1,2,3,4,5 or the group names below. I inform students there is group competition all day. The leading group earns special privileges such as being excused first for recess, lunch, etc. or being first in a game or read -alouds.

Try this next time you substitute teach. It's free, easy and produces the results you're aiming for in behavior. Combining this  reward system  with stickers or candy is an added incentive for students.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Well Do You Know the Pledge of Allegiance?

3'X5' Polycotton US Flag with 6' steel pole & steel bracket Kit
I certainly do not mean to challenge one's intelligence, but let's face it, we've been out of elementary school for quite a while. This is a gentle reminder so you are not caught in an embarrassing moment like a colleague of mine. As young students we had daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and we knew these precious words intimately. As adults (unless you are a elementary school teacher) we salute the flag sporadically throughout the year at meetings and special events. We are all humans, and humans forget.
And let me tell you, children never forget the substitute who botched the Pledge of Allegiance.

Thankfully it wasn't me! After reading this blog post, it won't be you.

After leading the Flag Salute during a recent substitute teaching job in a 2nd Grade class, I was told by one of the students that their last substitute teacher "messed up the pledge big time!" The class enthusiastically offered up laughter and her name. Ouch! I know the woman mentioned and I sure feel sorry for her. As teacher's, our voice needs to be strong and respectful during the pledge to set a good example.
Review the pledge before your next elementary school substitute teaching job, so your name isn't laughed about unmercifully.
I'm so proud to be an American and it is a joy to recount this oath of loyalty any chance I get:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lunch Room Etiquette

I attended an informative seminar on substitute teaching before I embarked on this career some 13 years ago. The sage advice from the seminar leader - a veteran teacher - had nothing to do with the classroom. It was about lunch room etiquette - and I'm not talking about a cafeteria full of students.

My dear readers, watch your demeanor in the teacher's break room. Remember that we are a guest and to act as such. This is the regular staff's retreat for the 45 minutes or so of a lunch period. There are several conversations going on at once and our role should be a polite listener. I'm not saying to be unresponsive. To the contrary, it is a balance of being approachable but hanging back a bit until you feel the vibe it is ok to jump in. Let instinct be your guide.

I've witnessed first hand when a new substitute teacher comes in and monopolizes the conversations. I know it annoyed me, so I imagine it sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard to the regular staff. It isn't pretty for that sub down the road! This behavior is looked on as irritating. Keep in mind that a teacher can tell the district office "please note that I don't want 'substitute Smith' to come to my class." Lunch room antics could be a career buster.

"A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something." - Wilson Mizner
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