Finally Subbing

So I’m finally subbing! And I love it! I am having such a blast that I can hardly believe it myself.

I’ve been subbing for almost two weeks now: 1st grade, kinders, 2nd grade, 4th grade, 7th grade, and 5th grade! I have to say my absolute favorite so far was 5th grade, but all the others are quite incredible experiences as well. One point that makes it tough for a sub is when majority of the class leaves for a few hours for some reading group elsewhere and that amount of kids come in from other classes. No clue who’s from your class and who isn’t, and makes it more challenging to manage.

Learned a few things right off the top:

  • Always introduce myself and let students know that one person talks at a time: either me, or somebody who raised his/her hand.
  • I ask students to tell me about the attention getting strategy their teacher uses, how do restroom passes work, and good/bad behavior. Since they are the ones who tell me about it, they are more inclined to follow it. The best management technique I’ve used which worked wonders was making a T-chart:

my name | class

  • If class is on track, working well, and focused, they receive a tally mark. If they’re misbehaving, off track, or using inappropriate voice level for activity, I get a point. By the time it’s recess time, if class has more points than I do, they get to go a few minutes early. If I have more points, they owe a few minutes of their recess time.
  • Seating charts are amazing. So far about half the teachers have provided one; other times I’ve drawn my own. Today I tried to have a tally system next to each student who I’ve called on, because I realized it’s too hard to keep track of it in my mind especially with students whose names I’m still learning.
  • A smart restroom break idea I saw was kids signing out (next to where the pass is hanging) and signing back in with the time indicated upon return. This held students accountable.
  • If students have a card-pulling system, I try to provide opportunities for them to redeem themselves (show extra diligence, help clean up extra, etc.)
  • Math review that works wonders: find flashcards that the teacher has and have students answer them. If correctly answered, you move a step forward to designated “end” spot, and if incorrect, or takes longer than 3 seconds, move a step backward. So far most of the classes were in groups, so either one person at a time would answer, or each group had a chance to answer several times.
  • Mad Libs are a lifesaver. Helps review what nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. are, while giving them a break from serious studying, and hearing a hilarious story at the end which they helped create.

My middle school experience was challenging in one period; the other two were great (it was half day). It was at a resource room, where I didn’t see too many behavior issues except for the challenging class, but otherwise some evident below level performance. I tried to make it fun by preparing the students to an acrostic poem assignment by having them make an acrostic poem of their names. Most students overall seemed alright and were curious and talkative. I asked them about positive/negative experiences with subs (obviously to increase my knowledge in what to do or NOT do). With middle schoolers, there isn’t much of a reward system to use. I can’t take away recess or make some points on the board; they’ll be gone within an hour and new students will arrive. So still struggling how to figure this one out. Meanwhile, I’ll continue subbing for non-middle schoolers at this time 🙂

Today I told the 5th graders that if they complete their math packets, we could do a little art project. Oh boy! Watching them rush through the assignment without any complaints was fantastic! The project was making origami tulips to create a bouquet for their teacher. It took longer than I anticipated, but they loved it!



One other main point: always arrive earlier than the assignment. If students arrive at 8:30 and the assignment begins at 8:05, arrive at the VERY LATEST at 7:45. Those few extra minutes to figure out abbreviations or what is necessary for the lesson and to draw up the seating chart is oh so helpful. That’s all for now. Another week will bring more tips I suppose.

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