How to Help the Elementary Respite Substitute Teacher Succeed in Her Class
After retiring from teaching full time, I became a substitute teacher working in elementary schools. I found that many teachers did not effectively plan their classes when they were absent. This often made it difficult for the substitute teacher to do a satisfactory job.
My reaction to that was threefold. First of all, I would write a “thank you” at the bottom of a teacher’s schedule when leaving me a workable plan. He always explained what he was capable of achieving. Second, if something didn’t work, I would say so in my report and replace it with a suitable activity, one that I had probably used successfully in another class. Third, I would collect good lesson ideas that classroom teachers gave me to use in these circumstances.
The experience of poor planning is the catalyst for what follows. It is designed to give the elementary teacher some practical ideas for lessons that come from my experience as a substitute teacher.
Lesson ideas could include:
- A book to read in class.
- A USSR Period – Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading
- a math exercise
- Writing practice period.
- Time for a test (like a review, maybe). This could be competitive: girls against boys.
- simple hands-on activity
- Worksheets, with instructions, that continue your teaching sequence. Include responses if applicable.
- A time out where students do some physical activities outside the classroom.
- The lesson of a friend. Here, an older class works with a younger class on an activity to help young students develop, while this activity helps older students develop tutoring skills.
- It may be suggested to complete a task or group work. However, you must give the teacher full instructions on what the class is actually doing. Otherwise I find students waste a lot of time. Knowing what is happening will allow the respite teacher the opportunity to offer help and keep students focused.
- If you teach a computer lesson, be sure to leave detailed tips for the replacement teacher, as well as select user-friendly software. Otherwise, “Murphy’s Law will rear its ugly head. My advice here is to be careful leaving your computer lessons.”
Obviously, lesson ideas should be related, whenever possible, to your teaching program. That way, students are more likely to take the remaining work seriously.