Being a substitute teacher requires gumption. Walking into an unknown classroom, with unknown children and sometimes unprepared lesson plans is daunting and does not always go smoothly. So what can do you in advance or where can you go to find help for being a sub?
Prep for the worst case scenario
Come prepared with your own activities. Since you might not know who the teacher and class is beforehand, you cannot always assume that proper lesson plans have been left - or that the room has been set up (e.g. emergency subbing is called that for a reason).
Pre-planning for subbing does not have to mean bringing actual materials that you have to lug around. Instead, consider memorizing a few classroom activities to pull out of your hat, when you run out of material to teach, or if the day's plans are simply not going...as planned.
Office on speed dial
Calling the office is sort of a good and bad decision. As the sub, you might not wish to be construed as ineffective and unable to control a class for a single day. On the other hand, sometimes calling for help is exactly what happens every day that comes after Sunday and before Saturday.
Another important aspect of this is to consider the child(ren) who are the reason for the disruption. Sometimes, the kid assumes (and sometimes wrongly assumes) that their teacher already pre-labeled them. If the label is already there, why change, says the kid. Not singling him or her out in the first place might thwart the behavior.
And deciding whether to call the office brings us to the next helpful hint to remember:
It is only for a day
Remember you are only there for a day. It might seem to be an eternity - all approximately 7.5 hours; but calm yourself knowing that the teacher you are filing in for actually is the one who has to come back...every day! That should give you some consolation.
But on a serious note, griping all day won't make it go any faster. Use the opportunity to refocus and get the class back on track. And if all else fails, that is what movie days are for, right?
You still have plan time and lunch to chit chat and meet with other teachers (sub job palooza, anyone?)
Subbing is rewarding and offers an opportunity to step into a new classroom everyday. But not every classroom is welcoming. Remember that old adage: "Every child brings joy into my classroom...some as they enter, some as they leave."
Sub day to remember...or forget
What was your "sub day to remember," either because it was so traumatic, you will never forget, or because it made you want to come back again and again? Share your experience and feel free to share this post with others. We all have "those days." But the difference with subs is the anticipation of the next job, knowing the good days always outnumber the bad, and knowing that the classroom teacher appreciates those individuals who come in and continue on the learning in the best way they can.