Once the madness of a new school year has settled to a more manageable level (LOL!), I like to focus on creating a well-prepared binder for any substitute teacher I might have in my classroom. Most teachers I know, including myself, have experienced being a substitute in one way or another. We know personally how hectic and overwhelming it can be to successfully manage a room full of students all while ensuring they’ve learned something by the end of the day. Definitely not a job for the faint of heart!
When I began using Whole Brain Teaching routines with my students, I knew a substitute would need an especially well-prepared set of guidelines. Using Whole Brain Teaching is a real challenge, so it must be even more so for a substitute if they’re not familiar with it. I’ll admit that last year was a rocky time for my group of kiddos and substitute teachers. Only one was brave enough to return for a second day! Fortunately, I rarely miss a day of school. If it hadn’t been for meetings and conferences, I doubt I would have missed even one.
I thought a lot this past summer about what I could do to improve a substitute’s experience in my classroom. While I don’t have any control over which students are placed in my room, I decided to focus on what I could control and go from there. I researched what other teachers provided for their substitutes, as well as reflecting on what past subs have shared in the way of positive and negative feedback with me. Here’s what I came up with:
- Pictures – I took lots of photos of my classroom and included them in my Substitute Binder. In particular, I focused on identifying the location of regularly used items throughout the room – where I keep my lesson plans and materials, recess equipment (both indoor and outdoor), where students turn in completed assignments, etc.
- Extra Activities – My Substitute Binder also includes extra activities if, for whatever reason, my lessons run short. These activities are easy to implement, don’t require a lot of fuss and (most importantly) I’ve already rehearsed them with my students.
- Feedback – I always leave a feedback form for substitutes to complete at the end of their day. This gives me a glimpse into what the day was like while I was gone. Should I need to contact parents or follow-up with students about an incident, having a written record of the sub’s comments is very useful.
Ready to Go!
Here are some photos of this year’s sub binder…
A well-prepared packet of information for a substitute is absolutely critical for any teacher. It’s the kind of thing you hope you don’t have to rely on very often, but when you do need it, you want it to be 100% ready-to-go at a moment’s notice.