Prepare Your Class for Substitute Teachers
Though you love being a teacher, sometimes you're going to have to be absent. Either you'll catch the latest flu bug or a pressing emergency will come up that you'll need to take care of or your car may break down. In such instances, you'll need to get a substitute teacher,commonly called a sub, for your class.
Before a sub ever sets foot in a pro-teacher's classroom, the pro has already done everything necessary to ensure that when he returns from his absence his students will have completed their assignments, behaved in an honorable manner toward one another, and treated the sub with courtesy and respect. If you wait until the last possible moment to prepare your students and your classroom for possible sub days, you could be in for some unpleasant surprises when you return from your absence: indignant notes from the sub, assignments left uncompleted, and a classroom that looks like a hurricane hit it.
One of the first things you must do is prepare a substitute-teacher's notebook, for use by any sub who may be assigned to your class. The sub notebook should be a sturdy three-ring binder, clearly labeled and easily accessible from your desk, containing the following materials:
Copy of your school's bell schedule, including lunch schedules
Updated copy of your classroom seating chart
Updated copy of your roll sheet
Copy of your daily instructional schedule
Copy of your classroom rules
List of your most helpful and responsible students
List of all classroom textbooks used and where they are shelved
Simple map of the school facility and grounds, including emergency-exit routes
List of the names, room numbers, and extensions of your closest fellow teachers
List of the names and extensions of your school's administrative personnel
List of the names, room numbers, and extensions of the nurse, counselor, etc.
At least three broad, flexible lesson plans that can be used throughout the year
Hole-punched spiral notebook so the sub may leave you informative notes
Don't keep your sub notebook under lock and key where no sub will ever be able to find it; on the other hand, don't just leave it lying around for any kid to peruse. Keep it with your teacher's-edition books and other materials on your desk, and train your students never to touch your materials without your permission, whether you're present or not.
Use every available opportunity to remind your students about proper classroom behavior when guests — and that includes subs — are present. For example, when student monitors come in delivering messages, remind the class that all guests must be honored. Then, model ultracourteous behavior by graciously thanking the monitor and asking his last name. Once you have the name, thank the monitor again, addressing him as “Mr. Tanaka” in exactly the same way you address your own students. Or, when your students report to you that a sub is teaching in a neighboring classroom, casually remark, “Well, who remembers how we should treat a sub when teachers are absent?” Work with your kids to constantly remind them that if you do take an absence day, the class is duty bound to behave properly, bringing honor to themselves and to you.
Don't be afraid to teach and model the important concept of honor for your children. Impress on your children that honor is defined as one's heartfelt love of what is good, just, and right. Remind your students that honor involves good manners, courteous behavior, and constantly treating others as you wish to be treated.
If you know beforehand that you'll be absent on a certain day, any photocopying and preplanning you can do will doubtless be much appreciated by the sub assigned to your class. Leave sufficient materials and specific lesson plans covering the topics your students are currently studying in addition to the all-purpose generic plans in your sub notebook.
However, if your absence day comes as a bit of a surprise to you, your sub notebook will save your life. The notebook's emergency lesson plans and invaluable classroom management information will help ensure that everything runs smoothly while you're gone.