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Teaching Heart's Survival Kit for Guest Teachers
2003 - I had a chance to be a guest teacher for about four months before I got my first job. Many of the subbing jobs I had helped prepare me for my first teaching job. Each guest teaching experience gave me the opportunity to see how a variety of teachers structured their days and set-up their classrooms. I was exposed to many different curriculums and many different levels of ability. I quickly learned what grades I felt comfortable teaching. I also learned how to be flexible and go with the flow. Most of the teachers I subbed for prepared easy to understand lesson plans. Yet, there were always a few teachers out there that left nothing or would forget to make a copy of something needed for a lesson or not leave enough activities for the day. Luckily, I had prepared a Substitute Teacher bag filled with standard based lessons for various grades, filler activities for all grades, and a variety of other materials to ensure my day went smoothly. I learned while student teaching that student behavior seems to be best when the students are actively involved in activities. Behavior problems seem to increase when the students do not have anything to do or the structure of the day is poor. While teaching and subbing I rarely had behavior problems in my classrooms because students knew my expectations and were always busy. There wasn't any time to misbehave. So my biggest secret when it came to subbing was to keep the kids actively involved in activities. Also, I strongly feel that all guest teachers need to have some sort of background in education. I am very annoyed by states that allow high school graduates, or college students, or college graduates with no educational background to be guest teachers. I feel that the best guest teachers are those who have had an opportunity to student teach and have had courses related to teaching. Unfortunately, every state has different expectations. With a background in education and a survival kit, you too can be a great guest teacher. Below you will see my survival kit and you will be able to read more of my ideas on how to have a great day as a guest teacher. I have also included helpful links for guest teachers.
UPDATE - 2015 - After five years of teaching in my own clasroom (K-3 Resource Room and Grade 2), and nine years of exclusively working on Teaching Heart, and then 2 years of Teaching Preschool - I am back to being a substitute teacher (Grades k-4) again in hopes of getting my own classroom soon!!! So with that change comes more subbing ideas for you!!!
Behavior Management Ideas
Whole Brain Teaching - The Scoreboard on the Go!!!!
Popcorn Reading Often the classroom teacher will leave a group reading activity and tell you to have each child take turns reading. If you just have the students read a paragraph at a time, the only students that tend to pay attention is the ones reading. Thus, I have the students popcorn read. They love it and I never have behavior problems during this time. What I do is pick a student to start reading and when I feel they have read enough I yell popcorn and then another student's name. That student starts to read where the last reader left off. I continue this process throughout the story. The catch is, if a student does not know where we are when I say popcorn we start at the beginning of the story (for longer stories, the beginning of the page).
Lights Children are often trained to be quiet when the lights go off. When you need to get the attention of the class a good idea is to flash or dim the lights.
Some Motivation What is the best way to get kids to stay on task when you aren't the classroom teacher? Well, if you are a sub there is only one answer... bribe them! Pack a bag of goodies (candy, small rewards, and such). Use these goodies as motivation. Set them out somewhere that the students can easily see them. Tell the class how they can earn the goodies (you make up your own system - depending on the class). I tend to use the little sticker system seen below. Sometimes you don't even need to start this till the afternoon. This has worked very nicely for me!
Caught You Being Good Cards Ok, I know Subbing is not the highest paid profession and some of you may not like the idea of buying goodies. Thus, I have an alternative. Make a set of colorful cards that say I caught you being good and hand them to students you catch being good. Once you give one out, the entire class wants one. I have only done this with the younger population (K-1).
Flower Pot - Behavior Management Subs need to have lots of forms of behavior management up their sleeve. A cute behavior management idea is to take a flower pot to school with you. Make homemade flowers out of construction paper and tape them to a straw (stem). Throughout the day look for children who are obeying the class rules and are on task--catch them being good. When you spot a child doing good, put his/her name on a flower and place the flower in the flower pot. At the end of the day, count the flowers . Allow the children with flowers in the pot reach into a prize bag and take one prize for each flower.
Still Waters (transitioning from one activity to another) K-3 There are times when teachers need their students to be quiet quickly. For instance, when you are getting ready to go out into the hall and transition into a new environment. I learned this simple trick in the school I student taught in from one of the first grade teachers... 1. First you need to inform the class of a game called "Still Waters". Tell the class that you will be playing this game often and they will know when the game starts by whenever you say, "1,2,3,3,2,1 Still Waters has begun. (This should become a regular routine for your class) 2. When they hear this statement they are to freeze and not say a word or move. 3. You will be timing them to see how long they can stay still as a team. The goal is for them to break their best record. 4. You will hold your fist in the air and each time you see someone move or talk, you put a finger up and stop when you have all five up. Then check your watch and give them the number of seconds they lasted. 5. By this time you will have their attention and can give them directions for the transition...
Math Mania K-5 Often as a guest teacher I find myself with a few min. before lunch and I am done with your morning lessons. Here is a game to play while the students wait in line to go to lunch! This is a great one for subs to have handy! 1. Have the students line up. Have the first student in line choose an number from 1-10. 2. Announce an operation. Such as add 2. 3. The second student in the line adds two to the first students number. 4. Continue down the line having each student add 2 to the new total. 5. If they answer incorrectly the student sits down and the student behind the "out" student tries to take over where the other left off. 6. The winner is the last person standing.
Clap My Beat 1-5 (K?) One of the best behavior management techniques I have learned is the one I am about to share. I learned this from my cooperating teacher when I student taught. It is great for getting your class to stop what they are doing and pay attention. It is so simple and they love it! I introduce this activity at the start of the day along with the teacher's rules and my rules. 1. Inform your class of a new game you will be playing. Tell the class that whenever you have something important to say or you want the class to have their eyes on you, you will clap a beat and they will mimic the beat you clap. Once you stop clapping their eyes should be on you and their mouths should be zipped! 2. For instance, (you - clap, clap, snap, clap) and (they-clap, clap, snap, clap) 3. You keep clapping beats until you have everyone clapping with you and eyes on you. Now you can start a lesson or so on. IDEA: I found that when I used this it was most effective if as I was making the beats I would say, "I bet you guys can't do this one!" They loved the challenge. Also, it worked best when I would praise the students on how nicely they clapped along. Especially if there is one student who always claps along with your beat as soon as you start. Positively reinforce that student and others will follow as quickly.
good behavior by stating the behavior.
Oh, my where is the plan book?
You need to be prepared for anything as a guest teacher and that means be prepared for no lessons or only a few lessons. I bring the below activities with me and I also have developed units to bring along. My goal is to keep the students busy all of the time. If the students are busy: you are busy, the day goes faster, and the students have learned lots form you. Most importantly, the day was not a waste for you or the students!
Start the Day Off Smoothly Subs move around from grade to grade and school to school and may not get a chance to get to know the students. It is important to start the day off on the right foot and get to know the students a bit before you jump into teacher mode! Take this list of questions found below with you to all jobs and write the questions on the board when you arrive. Then have each student answer the questions on a piece of paper. Finally, have all the students share their answers with you and the class. What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite color? What's your favorite TV show? What's you favorite song? What's you favorite school subject? What do you like to do in your free time? Hopefully, this will give you a much better understanding of you students and will make the day run smoothly!
Pick a Number 1.) Ask the class to take out a piece of paper. 2.) Tell them to pick a number between 1-10 and to write it on their paper and to cover their papers because you don't want to know what the number is. 3.) So that you can talk about their numbers you are going to assign it the letter value Z. Write Z on the board. 4.) Observe that their can be 10 different Z's in the room, one for every number from 1-10. Someone has probably chosen 3, 5, and 9. But so you can talk about the everyone's number, your letting Z stand for everyone's number. 5.) Tell the class to add nine to their Z. 6.) Next have them subtract, let's say... 5 7.) Continue with addition or subtraction combinations for at least three or four more numbers. For example; add 7, subtract 8, and add 4. 8.) You should be writing the individual steps as they occur on the board. z 9 +9 -5 -5 4 +7 +7 -8 11 +4 -8 3 +4 7 9.) Finally, have them subtract the original number they choose, their Z. Wait a sufficient amount of time, and then ask, "how many came up with seven." 10). Now the kids think you performed magic and want to know how you did it. ***See if they can figure it out. Repeat several times! The Secret Add and subtract the numbers between the Z's. The number they pick (z) is cancelled out at the end when you ask for subtraction in the last step. Try this several times before giving it to a class!!
A Subs Version of Pictionary Write current movies, books, cartoon characters, and songs on slips of paper and place them in a baggies. divide the class into two groups, and allow one student from Group 1 to come up. Hand him/her a slip of the pre-made ideas on it. Then have he/she go to the board and try to draw it. Allow either group to guess what their classmate is drawing.
Word Search Pack some of these in your bag. They are easy to make at www.puzzlemaker.com ! You can also make mazes here too.
Since you are only in one classroom a day at a time... stop the pencil sharpening madness and carry pre sharpened pencils for students who loose a pencil are seem to be sharening their pencil too often. I rarely use these but they are super nice to have just in case.
Pick a few of your favorite read-alouds and pack them in your bag. Bring an activity along to match the read-aloud. You may wish to view the Primary Teacher Timesavers For Teaching Reading & Literature found at http://teachingheart.net/primaryteachertimesaver.html This is filled with various ideas for some of the best read-alouds. Just print and use the activities.
Word Wizards Think of a word that has to do with something your students are learning or an up and coming holiday. Say the words are United States. Don't tell the class the word yet. First, break the class into groups of four and explain that you are going to give them a word or a phrase and they need to make as many words as they can using only the letters in the word you are going to give them. Write the word on the board and let them begin. After a predetermined time, have the groups turn in their paper. Check the papers and give the winning group a prize or privilege!!
Sparkle (Spelling) I first learned this in a practicum at Streams Elementary School from a wonderful teacher named; Ginny Zemaitis. It is a pretty common game and most students have played it before. Still it works great! this is how it goes... 1. Have the students stand in a circle. 2. Pick a student to start. 3. Give the student a spelling word. Let's say, "teacher." 4. That student will say teacher and the next student will say, "T", and the next student will say, "E", and the next student will say, "A", and so on.... 5. Finally a student will say "R" and the next student will say "sparkle" and sit down on the floor. 6. The next person will start the new word and it will go down the line in the same manner. 7. Repeat these steps until there is only one person standing - they are the winner! NOTE: if a student says an incorrect letter during the game, they must sit down and the word is started again by the next person.
What State - Geography 1.) Display a large US map. 2.) Have the students line up behind it. 3.) The first two students should stand in front of the map. 4.) The teacher should then name a state. 5.) The first of the two students to point to it wins the round and remains standing. 6.) The next student in line replaces the player who then returns to the end of the line.
Where Have You Gone Vowel? 1.) Write several short vowel words on the board. Omit the vowels. 2.) Ask the class to think of vowels that would make the word complete. 3.) Have student volunteers come to the board to make the word complete.
Place - Value Scramble 1.) Write three #'s on the board. 2.) Ask students to rearrange the numerals to make the lowest possible number, the highest possible number, a number with the largest number in the tens place, and other, similar placements. 3.) Complete the activity by asking students to help you in arranging the resulting numbers in order.
Spelling Detectives 1.) Write the weekly spelling words in random order on the chalk board and tell the class to study the words carefully for one minuet. 2.) Tell the students to put their heads down - no looking! 3.) Erase one of the words and rewrite it - this time spell it wrong. 4.) As the class has their heads down say, "Oh my, something looks wrong - all spelling detectives raise your heads and see if you can tell me what word is not spelled correctly." 5.) After 30 seconds, call on a volunteer to tell you the word and how it should be spelled. If the child answers correctly reward the class a point. If the child does not answer correctly, identify the word and give yourself 1 point. 6.) Repeat Steps.
Math 7 up Play
7 up but before the child guesses who picked them, they
must answer a
Math Battleship 1.) Put a grid on the board
1-5 on the bottom and a-z along
Bring some fun extra things the students can do when their work is done. At the elementary level I bring "fun sheets" for the students. Fun sheets can be pictures to color, dot-to-dots,word searches, mazes, or something else along that line. At the upper levels I bring word puzzles and magazines. If you are the creative type or have taught in the past another fun thing to bring is file folder games or take-it-to-your-seat centers. We have many centers in our CDRROMs and packets that you could print to keep in your bag. Try one of our Seasonal Packet... A Great one for winter is It's Cold Outside... Buy this baby and print it out and have it in your Sub bag! It will be heaven sent!!!
I have tons of free printables all over Teaching Heart that would come in handy - start on the blog and do a search for what seasonal things.
sheets below are perfect for your sub bag!!!!
The End of the Day
Make sure the classroom looks as it did when you got there. Put all teacher resource books back where you found them. Put all supplies neatly back where you found them.
Correct all papers that were handed in. If you gave a spelling test, simpily correct the test by placing a check next to the word missed. Then in the right hand corner of the paper, write the number correct out of the number of questions given. If there were 20 spelling words and they got 18 right, you would write 18/20 at the top of the paper. The classroom teacher can then easily record the results in their plan book.
Write a detailed note to the teacher. If a computer is available, type the note up. You may even wish to make your own stationary with your name & contact information on it. Make sure you state all that you finished and anything you did not get to. Make a note of any behavior problems. Also note the names of students that did a great job!
If you enjoyed your time in the classroom and would like to come back leave your buisness card so that the teacher can contact you again. A great idea is to print your cards on magnetic paper so that the teacher will never misplace it.
Resources For Guest Teachers
A Few Read Alouds to Keep in Your Bag
Links to More Resources
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Copyright Teaching Heart by Colleen Gallagher - 2015