What does a substitute teacher do?
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What does a substitute teacher do?
www.studenthandouts.com > Miscellaneous > Substitute Teaching Emergency Kit
How do I become a substitute teacher? What does a substitute teacher do?
How do I maintain classroom discipline? What do I do with these lesson plans?
Basic Job of a Substitute Teacher
Basically, a substitute teacher is there to fill in for a regular teacher during an absence. This absence could be for the day or for the rest of the school year.
Unplanned Absences
Most teacher absences are unplanned. The teacher has woken up to a high fever or some other signs of illness or emergency, and called the school to say that she or he won't be in that day.
Planned Absences
The teacher could be attending a professional conference, wedding, funeral, etc. The teacher may be having conferences with parents (in which case she or he is in the building, but not in the classroom).
Following the Lesson Plans
Your job is to follow the teacher's lesson plans. These are typically located in the teacher's planning book. Often, teachers who have a planned absence leave a sheet explaining the lesson plans on the desk. Some teachers also keep a "sub folder" on the desk. If you cannot locate these things, contact the main office immediately.
Reasons to Skip the Teacher's Lesson Plans
The majority of teachers leave behind lesson plans for a substitute teacher to follow. Usually, these lesson plans are simple to implement. However, there are often times when the lesson plans are not able to be followed.

Sometimes you simply won't know the content of the lesson. Your degree may be in English, yet you find yourself in a Physics class being told to explain relativity. If you don't know Japanese, you aren't going to be able to follow the lesson plans in a Japanese language class. Have the students do something else.

Sometimes the lesson calls for a teacher to assign important grades. If the students are supposed to give presentations accounting for a significant portion of their grade, have them do something else.

The nature of the lesson plans is going to leave the kids free to clown around in a way that makes classroom discipline impossible. For example, the students may be in the midst of writing a research paper, and the teacher may simply say, "Have the kids work on their projects." The students are guaranteed not to work on their projects, but instead to chat and do as they please. The same behavior will result from students being told to complete a handout that is due the next day. Have the students do something else. If there is a handout involved, change the rules and tell the students that it is due by the end of the class period.

Whenever you feel obligated to alter the teacher's lesson plans, leave a note for the teacher briefly explaining why you made the change. For example: "The kids were talkative and goofing off, so I told all of the classes that the work was done by the end of the period instead of tomorrow."
Emergency Lesson Plans
It's an emergency! There you are, in a classroom with no lesson plans in sight. The main office is completely swamped, and no one seems able to help you figure out what to do. You need to come up with a lesson plan a.s.a.p. or the class will devolve into anarchy.

Even the most organized teachers can have an emergency and leave behind no guide for a substitute to follow. Do not panic. There are things you can do to save the day.

Look at the teacher's schedule. What courses does he or she teach? Perhaps the teacher has three periods of American History and three periods of World History. See if you can find out where the students are in the sequence of the course. Although it may be boring, you can save the day by having students read the next section in the textbook and answer the corresponding questions.

If you only vaguely know what the kids are learning, try clicking around on this site. Most materials are arranged by course. Find a handout kids can complete and turn in by the end of class. The main office or another teacher can point you in the direction of a copier.

Be prepared with handouts.
Your Briefcase or Bag

Every successful substitute teacher has a briefcase or bag dedicated to subbing. In this bag are copies of forms such as student sign-in sheets, notes for the teacher, and generic handouts that can be used in any classroom (such as a state capitals crossword puzzle for Social Studies classes). There are usually six classes per day in a 7th-12th-grade schedule, so with 25 students per class you can expect to use about 150 copies. Remember that this bag is for subbing only--keep it organized and ready to take with you every day.

Typical contents:

Student sign-in sheets
Notes for the teacher sheets
Snacks (in case you forget lunch and there are no vending machines)
Book or magazine (to keep you busy during a planning period)
Stop and Check Out More Educational Freebies
Chinese Communist Revolution Word Search Puzzle
John Locke DBQ on Two Treatises of Government (1690)
Ancient Greece Multiple-Choice Test with 30 Questions
We do not break things when we get angry.
Ancient Civilizations of Southwestern Asia Chart Worksheet
www.studenthandouts.com > Miscellaneous > Substitute Teaching Emergency Kit