Friday I had a substitute. I was at a Writer's Project Renewal. I hate being out of my room; I conceitedly feel as if no learning or work can be done while I'm gone. I'm going to be gone again, on Wednesday, because Mom's having oral surgery, and it's going to take four hours. I need to take her there, and be ready to take her home and play nursemaid to her. I love my mom, but I'm not looking foreward to it.
Now, I've heard horror stories from subs who talk about teachers who leave no lesson plans. Horror stories of rotten children who appear to be the spawn of Satan. Horror stories of all kinds. I've never subbed, but I feel for the subs. Walking into a room cold, particularly a room of hormones in sneakers, which is what my eighth graders are most of the time, can't be fun.
However. You don't have to sub. Most people don't. We have only two subs this year we can count on. Most of the time, we are subbing for each other, because our district doesn't see fit to pay as much as the other two districts in our area. I've also been told that although there's money for in-services and teacher training, we can't get enough subs to cover teachers who want to attend. How lame is that?
What I'm saying is, I know how hard it is, even if I am not a substitute teacher.
But. We are in this together, Mr. and Ms. Substitute. We have to work together. What follows is what I do for you when you are present in my absence, then a list of what I'd like back from you. If you think, dear substitute, or any other dear reader, I've left something out, please feel free to add it in.
I will leave you clean and clear seating charts on clipboards. I will leave them in a centrally located area, and tell you where that area is. I will also leave overhead transparencies on the top of the seating charts, so you can easily mark students who are absent, or acting up, without trying to figure out names to write down.
I will leave you a detailed lesson plan, all handouts marked with post-its, and any other information you will need in a letter left on my desk.
I will leave an overhead transparency on the projector, with an agenda of the day's activities for you to show the students.
I will list the names of students who tend to act up, and also the names of students who you can ask for help.
I will have asked the "helper" students in advance to assist you.
I will leave clear instructions about how students should turn in homework, and whether or not they may use the hall pass to "go to the bathroom" etc.
I will always thank you.
Okay, Your turn:
Please do not bring your guitar and play for the students instead of following the lesson plan. None of them have contacts in the music industry.
If I've asked you to play a tape-recorded version of The Pearl, for the students to follow along to in their own reading books, I don't mind if you stop the tape for a moment now and then to clarify something. However, please make sure that in 45 minutes, you've gotten past the first page.
Don't yell at the students. Yes, they can be rude, but that shouldn't be a surprise. I mean, they are 13 you know.
Don't come in with a cold and threaten them with "Be good or else I'll breathe on you."
If they students are watching a movie, please don't hand out pencil cap erasers. I'm still finding bits of them around the room, 13 weeks later.
Try and notice if erasers, crayons, playdoh or what not are being thrown around the room. Stop it if you see it.
Please don't leave me a note, like my sub did Friday, "periods 1-4 were great. A number of kids in period 5 were talkative and disruptive, all period." If you don't tell me their names, or at least mark them on the seating chart, I can't do anything about it. Should I punish the whole class?
Please don't ignore my notes or rules. If you're worried about being a "cool sub" you're still too young to be doing this.
Have I left anything out?