One year ago, the last quarter of the Spring 2015 (who knows how long people will be looking), I got back into the classroom as a substitute teacher. Whoa, what an experience. After 10 months of enjoying my life at home a part time job found me. A different routine in every classroom. Different expectations in every classroom. At least I am in the same building and only substitute at one school.
My substitute days start off the same. I walk into the school building's
commons area around 7:45. I make sure to say "Good Morning" to the
support staff. If I have a problem during the day, most likely, the
first person I encounter is support staff. They will be my resource and often will help me above and beyond what I need to get sorted out. One morning, I even got a piece of banana bread
delivered to me by the support staff. Mostly snacks to get me through they day and to do my workout in the evening: cinnamon rolls from breakfast, bag of lefter over popcorn from last nights game. Support staff make every school function
smoothly or not.
After my "good mornings," I then check in with the school secretary to fill our
paperwork and get my classroom assignments.
First priority, learn the students names. When you are the substitute teacher, sometimes all you have is the ability to associate a face to a name. Unfortunately, the names you learn first are the students who are not on task.
My day would go a lot easier if more teachers left an attendance sheet or book out for me to reference. Some teachers
print off seating charts with students pictures, these are great. I
usually don't have access to the computerized attendance program, but some
substitutes do. Those that do may bring along their own laptop or iPad.
I'd rather not use my personal devices on the school wifi or for school
business. Although, sometimes I do text attendance to the school secretary and let
her know if I am carrying my phone. Most of the time, I'll send a volunteer to take attendance to the office.
I enjoy the days I can pick up my book and read. These teachers have their classroom procedures down. Students already have a idea of what their task is going to be, many walk in and get busy. These classrooms run like clockwork because these teachers are there day in and day out or these teachers are frequently gone.
Other days I might be able to peruse a magazine. Short articles and looking at pictures is all the time I have. These students have to monitored to stay on task. They see the classroom teacher is not there and they think they have a day off. Students recognize "busy work" and adjust their behavior to it. Or students are asking for help. I've been subbing for about a year now and the students know they can ask me questions or I will tell them "I don't know, Google it." Since I have had my own classroom, I know to make mental notes on how much or little students are progressing on their task. My task is to make sure the substitute plans get accomplish, no matter how well the plans are written.
Some days, I get to teach. I might have had some heads up on the lesson plans or had a prep period to read the student material. These class periods go by quickly. I enjoy teaching, but teaching on the cuff is different. I am still surprised that high school teachers would expect a substitute to teach their content. I know if the teacher was there, they could bring the topic to life.
At the end of the day, I leave some notes about the how the class periods go. I don't know if my notes go unread or the teachers have some sort of follow through. But I will tell the teacher what happened during the day. Which classes I felt were well behaved. Which classes seemed like they wanted to goof off. I also leave a list of students who have left the classroom; I sign students in and out and have to remind them to tell me when they return to class. Just basic information about how my day went.
Teachers are busy, leaving their classroom for a day often takes as much time to prepare and time to catch up as being gone for the day.