Sunday, February 12, 2012

Substitute teaching days

When I finished working for my initial teaching license, I started substitute teaching at a local public high school.  My experiences showed me that substitute teaching should be a composite part of teacher training.  I learned so much from the regular teachers such as having a folder for make up work for missing students;  it makes helping students catch up so much easier.  (Now, I want to create some locked "box" where students can put their make up work.  Currently, the make up work gets mixed in with the on-time work.)

Some things I figured out on my own, and I use them for those who substitute for me now.  Not only do I include seating charts in my substitute folder, but I include seating charts with student photographs.  It is so easy for the substitute to know the students by sight.  Never underestimate the power of knowing someone's name when they are starting to make trouble.

One thing I didn't understand then was the difficulty of getting a math substitute.  At that school, one of the math teachers found out that I was licensed in secondary mathematics, and she got me to substitute for a conference day.  She said that she could never get someone to substitute who knew math.  The day came, and it was a rather easy task since math was one of my fields of expertise.  The situation of getting a substitute with math skills became apparent during the last class of the day.  An algebra 4 student came to me with a question about a problem on the worksheet.  I worked it out on the whiteboard with him.  He went back to his seat, and I overheard this conversation:  "Did she know the answer?"  "Not only did she know the answer; she knew how to work the problem!" 

I'm remembering all this because I will be out on the Junior class retreat on March 8, and I have asked a former math teacher to sub for me.  She can do all the math stuff.  The computer science classes will just have to work in the labs without me.  Maybe I can get the tech coordinator to do his "why not use wifi" presentation in the Honors CS class. Hmm.

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