5 Tips for Success with a Sub


1. Write on your Students' Desks
Seriously, use an expo marker or vis a vis marker and write a positive note for each student, reassuring them you know they will have a great day, make terrific choices, and rock it for the substitute. This idea has been around a while but it is still effective!

2. MYSTERY Reward
Here is how it works (and to be honest, I have no idea where I heard this, but it is not my idea):  You need to leave written instructions for your sub.  Tell the sub to (at random or preplanned times, like every thirty min. but at least twice an hour) to do a quick check if the class is, as a whole, showing respect, on task, and following directions. If so, she /he or a student can write a letter of the word mystery on the board. If they get all the letters of the word before the day is over, you will see it when you return and the next day you will choose a reward for the class (like extra recess, game day, a Magic Tree House video, etc.)

3. My Teacher Would be Proud of Me Poster
This was the most effective strategy for my class last year! Simply, take a piece of chart paper or poster board (I laminated mine for durability) and write "____ would be proud of me" at the top (insert your name). Leave sticky notes for the substitute. During the day if students did something kind or helpful or followed the rules, etc.  they can write it on the note, with or without their name and stick it on the poster. They were so excited about it last year, I had to limit them to one note each. I then would read some or all out loud to everyone the next day and praise, praise, praise everyone (not just the ones who wrote it down).

Here's the poster waiting for notes to be added: 
And here is a peek at it after I got back from being out!

4. Sub Binder
If you don't have a sub binder, now is the time! Include a class list, schedule, emergency info and procedures for your school, information on modifications and accommodations for special education students and those on 504s,  , and lesson plans for math and language arts at least. I bought several sub resources from teachers pay teachers at different times and put them in the binder. This does NOT have to be fancy! Seriously. Check out my binder, with the handwritten cover/label! The contents are the important part.


5. Just Let it Be
As the Beatles sang, let it be. Even with the best-laid plans and the greatest students, it will not go exactly the way you might hope! And some years, you will have a group that has a very hard time no matter what plans you have in place when you leave. In those cases, I have let the guidance counselor, principal and school psychologist know if I am going to be out (if I know in advance) and ask them to do a check in with the sub during the day to see how things are going. You should not feel guilty about being out, and try not to take it personally if students misbehave. Take care of what you need to take care of on your day off, and come back and start fresh the next day!

Do you have a tip I should have included? Comment below and let me know!

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