You're to be commended for wanting to make the most out of a sub job. Subbing
successfully is a real art, and I've known subs who actually prefer the variety over
having their own classes.
The number one thing that annoys me about subs is when they ignore my lesson plans.
Since it's so rare to have one with any experience teaching art, I detail _everything_
carefully so they can follow it, only to sometimes return and found they didn't use my
plan. I have to occasionally sub on my planning period, and if I know it a day or two
ahead of time, I go talk to the teacher to see what's up. You might go introduce
yourself to the teachers at the school(s) you plan to teach in, esp. the art teacher(s);
I assure you they'll be thrilled to see an art sub. At the times when I've had a former
art teacher sub for me more than a couple of days in a row, I've let him prepare a
lesson that's totally different than anything I've taught; he really enjoys it, and so
do the kids.
Another problem--and I think this is more the fault of the school--is that they aren't
aware of a lot of our school rules, which of course the students take advantage of.
Make an effort to find out about the various policies in the schools you'll be at, esp.
how disciplinary problems should be handled. If there's a student handbook that
describes this, get it and study it.
When I have to sub and aren't sure of the individual teacher's policies regarding, say,
bathroom passes, I use my own judgement; if a student tries to pull the "So-and-so lets
us!", I just tell him, "Well, I guess you'll be really glad when he gets back, because
today this is MY class, and you're not going!"
That's probably the key: make it YOUR class when you're unsure what to do. One sub left
me a form she'd gotten from another district which rated the ease with which she could
follow my plan; were supplies easy to find; any disciplinary problems; any good helpers,
etc. It was great feedback. You might consider doing the same (though it could be a
bit touchy with some teachers).
The teachers at my school have on file in the office some "canned" plans for those times
we may have an emergency that prevents our writing plans. For those times when there's
no lesson plan, my canned plans are: 1) each student gets an ice cream cone (stashed in
my office) and does a drawing transforming it into something else; 2) each student gets
about 6' of thin wire (already cut and stashed in my office) and creates a wire
sculpture with it. Crummy primary scissors make fine pliers.
Helen Hume wrote a great book full of interesting lessons on all kinds of things. The
title escapes me at the moment but I use it a lot for ideas. I'll send you the title if
One last thing, to all you teachers out there: we can all make things a little easier
for our subs by leaving a generic "Info for Subs" sheet by our lesson plan book.
Describe your policies, designate 2-3 assistants for each class, diagram your class
charting where various supplies are kept, indicate any special-needs kids who need extra
help, or kids who have seizures, etc...My subs have really appreciated this info.
Best of luck to you, Lydia.
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