Hi everyone! My name is Bex, and I am so delighted to be here on Minds in Bloom today with some tips for you on how to set your class up for success with a substitute. Thank you, Rachel, for having me!
1. Write Notes on Individual Student Desks
2. Proud of Me Sticky Notes
What do you need for this one? Just sticky notes and a poster, a large piece of easel paper, or a white board. Write in big letters on the surface you choose: “Ms. So-and-So will be proud of me because…” Leave in the lesson plans instructions for the substitute to give each child a sticky note. Sometime during the day, when your student has done something that she feels would make you proud, she writes it on the sticky notes and adds it to the poster. This can be done whether you know you will be out or not; you just need to leave information in your substitute plans as to where she can find the sticky notes. Two caveats for this: Prep your class in advance, maybe even right at the beginning of the year (or tomorrow, if you think you might use it between now and the last day of school). Explain how this works and brainstorm ideas of what would be appropriate to put on the sticky notes. Also, a crucial piece is follow up. Always follow up when you get back by reading some or all of the sticky notes aloud to the class and giving the class positive feedback.
3. Substitute Rules Poster
Brainstorm with your class a list of 5-10 rules for when there is a substitute teacher. If you have had your class write their own class rules, or if you have predetermined rules or a school motto, reference this for ideas. Also, I always ask my class, “When I am not here, what should kids be doing so that you have a great day and everyone goes home feeling good?” Hang it in a prominent position in the room.
4. Mystery Reward
There are two ways to do this. First, you can do a class mystery reward. Leave individual cards with the letters of the word “mystery.” Instruct the substitute to check on random students throughout the day. If they are meeting your goals (mine are being on task, putting in good effort, and being respectful), then they earn a letter in the word mystery. If, by the end of the day, all the letters of “mystery” have been earned, then the class gets a little reward when you return, such as extra recess, lunch outside, etc. If you can’t leave cut out letters for the sub, she can simply keep track on the board. The other option is for substitute to do a variation of this, which I think works well for when I am out for meetings or half days. Have her pick three random students to check on while you are out, and then if they are doing well, she can leave their names for you and they can earn something, like an extra Class Dojo point or a small prize.
I hope these tips help you out! If you would like to get a few bonus tips along with the tips I have mentioned, feel free to grab my PDF freebie, which you can find it exclusively at that link. Thank you so much!
Bex Mawn is an elementary school teacher and reading specialist and has been working in public schools for 18 years. She has a blog, Reading and Writing Redhead, and a TPT store with the same name. Bex loves giant breed dogs, reading and traveling. She is a lifelong learner and enjoys trying new things and has been having a lot of fun trying out Periscope and Facebook Live this year!