Guest blogger: Katy Gibson
Are you starting your first long-term substitute position this year? It can be overwhelming! Especially since it is not your classroom, but you want to keep everything consistent for the students.
I unexpectedly had to take a long-term substitute position last year. I originally was a paraprofessional for the school district, but they needed me for a 5th grade long-term substitute position. I was not prepared, but I was able to be successful. The year prior, I was a teacher in a different state for a year, so I used this knowledge to understand the main teachers’ perspective. I asked myself, what would I expect from my long-term substitute?I want to share with others about how I was able to thrive during my time. I will be sharing tips that you can control yourself, instead of focusing on the situations out of your control.
Try to stick to the main teachers’ routines! Yes, you might have opinions on how you like routines to be for a classroom. But, you have to remember this is NOT your classroom. If you are entering the classroom in the middle of the year, the students will already be comfortable to a routine. If you try to steer too far away from it, you will be losing valuable educational time. Keep it simple. Also, if you are in a position that the teacher will be returning to the classroom. You do not want him/her to have to waste their time having the students relearn their routines. It is about the students’ needs not yours.
Communicate with main teacher. If you know about your position ahead of time, find time to talk to the main teacher. Ask questions about what they expect from you. Is there a set a lessons he/she wants you to use, how much flexibility is there for the lessons, is their data that needs collected, etc. Your teacher might even be okay with you messaging them during your time in his/her classroom. Just check with the teacher ahead of time.
Get to know the students. You will only be with the students for a short amount of time. However, the more you know about their background the better you will be prepared to serve the kids. When I went into my students files, I actually found out there were students who should be wearing glasses in class but were not. Look at your students files, ask teachers, and then when you get into the classroom build rapport with them.
Build a Bridge with families. This is challenging since long-term positions only last about half the year or less…typically. Make a flyer that introduces yourself and put some pictures on there as well. Make sure the pictures are of you and activities that you participate in outside of school. This will help make the families more comfortable with you if they can see who you are visually. Have your contact information big and bold on the flyer so they know how to contact you, if needed. Lastly, make an effort to go to outside school events. Parents love to see their child’s teacher involved with other activities that do not have to do with academics.
Document. Keep a folder with everything you do in the classroom. This includes your lesson plans, reflections, seating arrangements, discipline, students’ family interactions, etc. This way if there are any questions, you have all the information conveniently in one place. Also, if the teacher you replaced temporarily is returning for the end of the year, they know where you left off and what has occurred in the classroom.
Friends, remember you have the EduMagic in YOU!