Student of Life: My Lessons Are Yours

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When you think Halloween, you likely think of dressing up in costume. But, what about higher education? From the wacky to downright weird, these Halloween college scholarships leave you hanging on Student Life 5 Lessons Dorm Living Teaches You Living in the dorms is beneficial in so many ways, including providing students with important life lessons. Some students say that living on campus is helpful when attending college far from home, as it saves them both money and the hassle of securing off-campus housing. For many students — both current and incoming — living on campus is simply a vital part of the quintessential college experience.

No matter your reason or reasons for residing in an on-campus dorm, one thing is certain — doing so will teach you many life lessons, including how to live independently after college. Though much of what you learn from dorm life tends to be social, on-campus living can also teach you some very important academic lessons. I find it helpful when teachers are very specific with instructions about the "small things" that help the class run smoothly.

This is especially important for younger elementary school students because they rely heavily on routines.

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It's best to try to run the class very close to the way the regular teacher would. Christie Ruffin Activity Points. I agree with Christie, the best thing that teachers can do is to pay attention to those little things the substitutes should know about. I am a teacher candidate who is still learning to develop my own lesson plans. From my professors I keep hearing that well written lesson plans should be easy to follow - for me or for anyone else who needs to take over for some time. I just have to add that in the time where schools often opt out from science and SS instruction because they focus so much on reading and math, I appreciate when the substitute teachers keep the science instruction going.

Juraj Duracka Activity Points. While being a substitute I have had a variety of experiences. Everything from highly detailed lessons to I come in an have nothing and the teacher next door is scrambling to try to help me have something to do with the students. It is very stressful especially late in the school year where the students may not be as motivated anymore. Also, I agree that class lists or seating charts are very useful to maintain control. I think also that a lot of the success or failure of a substitute depends on the first moment. If I present myself as confident and authoritative from moment one I have a much better time.

If I let anything slip right at first it tends to be a much more challenging day. Students will test their limits so be kind but firm. Also, yes please please leave more work than you think could ever possibly be done. Having a classroom of near 30 students saying now what while you fumble about or reading a kindergarten class books and asking them questions gets boring for both you and the students.

For substitutes, get there early so if you have well prepared lesson plans you can read over them and get familiar with the classroom. If you are not prepared being early can give you time to remedy and figure out what you will be doing. Kathleen Chachich Activity Points. I have taught online for the last 4 years, and in my setting that has basically eliminated the need for subs.

For years before that when I had to be out, I would make sure that a sub understood that there should be zero tolerance for disrespect and insubordination. If a student would not follow their instructions, they were to immediately call the counselor, VP, or principal to have the student removed. I had the luxury of a small school, a phone in my classroom, and pretty effective administrators. The subs who followed this protocol did not have any problems once the students understood they had to obey or face admin.

I think it is so important for teachers to treat their subs with respect. With the current economic climate, virtually all substitute teachers have teaching credentials in my area, and often are better prepared than the classroom teachers. Many of the guest teachers a much better term in my mind are experts in a technical field, trying to establish themselves in a second career, but with an incredible background of experience. In contrast, young teachers just exiting college are much more likely to get hired as the "real" teacher, because of their cost, energy, and the expectation that they will be molded in the image of their district.

Many guest teachers actually have advanced degrees, and would like to be able to share that expertise. But as districts continue to pare costs, the selection process becomes more impersonal. Maybe we need to think of a better way to assign guest teachers. I know I would rather have another science or social studies teacher cover environmental science than a music or English teacher.

But that is not usually the case anymore with automated systems like Aesop, etc. What are your thoughts? Jennifer Rahn Activity Points. I also use the term "guest teacher" and prepare the students I am lucky to usually know absences in advance. Unfortunately, in math or science, it's impossible to get a guest teacher who understands the content, so I plan activities in their comfort zone, short, interesting readings or a compelling video.

ALWAYS make students responsible to deliver something in writing, from summaries of their readings to "top 10 things you never knew", etc. I once had a science teacher leave a temperature lab when she was absent - complete with hotplates and glass mercury! Don Dean Activity Points.

I always leave plenty of relavant work for my students and a little extra in case some students try to pretend to do the assignment and just turn in junk. That way the sub always has back up provisions. My biggest problem has been the sub who comes in and ignores the work that I have left and preaches to my students. When I say preaches, I mean "hell, fire, and brimstone.

I wish the districts would screen these people better. Penny Ghinaudo Activity Points. When I need to have a sub for the classroom, I always leave work that students know and is review. I also leave a little extra in case there is extra time. I leave detailed instructions for the subs and leave all the information that they could need. One of my biggest pet peeve is when teachers do not write down names of students who were not following the rules.

Students need to be held for their actions. Kathryn Mattila Activity Points. I have had a couple of really good substitutes in my time. There are some that even have a science or math background that will attempt to engage the students in a way that the actual teacher would on a normal day.

It makes the discipline problems much less and the chances that the students will be cooperative and learn that much greater. I agree, when a sub or guest teacher is part of the community, things tend to go smoother and a sub that is willing to be firm and hold students accountable will make everyone's job easier and be more effective.

When I saw a new sub unwilling to be firm, I would prepare to need to leave my class and restore order, and many times had to do just that. With the present economy and job market, I am surprised there have not been more incidents of subs loosing it in a frustrating situation. It must be very stressful for those non-retirees actually trying to break into a permanent position. It speaks well of the group as a whole that for the most part they walk into potentially chaotic situations and bring their skills to our classrooms.

I was a 'regular' substitute in small country schools for several years. Now that I am a fulltime teacher, I take care to leave detailed lesson plans that are complementary to the current work. I do not expect a non-chemist to teach or review chemistry concepts, I just require that they monitor behavior and motivate the students to work through the 'extension work' I leave.

Preparing a minute class worth of valid extension work can take a whole Saturday, it is time consuming but both my subs and my students appreciate it. It also means that the class text books do not get covered in graffiti, which was a problem last year when I left lesson plans that required using text books. I like to see that each student has handed in minutes worth of work I was disappointed recently when a young man submitted just the skeleton of a comparison table, and the sub had no idea what that student had been doing for the class period. My pet peeve was returning from a 2-day absence due to mandated CHAMPS training to find the desks covered in graffiti, and because the subs did not enforce the seating chart, I had NO idea which of my students were responsible.

I agree with many of the comments, enjoy your day! I believe most subs are not required to be certified in the area of content they sub for, so expecting them to assist students should not be the case. You should expect them to manage the classroom and be assured that the students are attempting to do the required work. Detailed notes left for the sub will most likely result in a better experience for the sub, as well as the students. It is also imperative that you assign meaningful work! A quiz or graded assignment always help ensure that students will be working and the day will not be lost.

Keith Godlewski Activity Points. I have now been on both ends of this dilemma. I started as a substitute pretty much fresh out of high school and really wanted to do an awesome job because I had heard so many teachers talk negatively about substitute teachers. I remember signing in one morning and having a teacher yelling at the bookkeeper down the hall about a substitute that she had the day before and that nothing had been done correctly.

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As a classroom teacher, it is very important to leave very detailed lesson plans including a schedule, rosters and even a seating chart if you have one. It is difficult if you are a retired teacher not to just come in and do things the way that you want to do them. I do however; prefer an experienced teacher in my classroom as a sub rather than somebody who has no classroom experience. When I went through the sub class for my county, they pretty much told us how to dress and what not to do and then said go for it.

If my parents had not both been teachers and still in the school system, I probably would not have even felt comfortable enough to go into the classroom. I think that a lot of the time, teachers just assume that all substitutes have received some type of formal training which is not the case. I appreciate the more experienced subs and the retired teachers because of their classroom management and because a lot of the time they are knowledgeable of the content materials.

Never take the good ones for granted!! When it comes to pet peeves, I agree that I really do not like when a sub does not leave a detailed account of what went on during the day. I do not like coming back to a group of kids all upset because of something that happened and I have no feedback from the sub about the situation. Brittany Hatcher Activity Points. I am only in my third year of teaching but understand the importance of a good substitute. My advice to a substitute is to stick to my lesson plan.

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Plus my students are well aware of my expectations and my follow up. A professional educator will be able to follow. I read your post last night and re-worked my lesson plan. I was so nervous leaving my kids in the hands of a sub. Luckily I had a sub that knew all my students so she was okay.

Thank you for leaving what I should give my sub. Kelly Amendola Activity Points. Kelly, you are so right about the substitute teacher knowing the students. In my district, we now use an automated placement agent, and this makes it hard to know that the sub you get is the one who knows your students. Although teachers try all sorts of strategies to get specific subs, they often get a sub who is out of field or is unfamiliar with the school.

What kind of experiences have the rest of you had with automated sub placement? How are you dealing with the impersonality of the systems?

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The posts above are great. I have been struggling with subs in my past two years of teaching. At my current school I now generally know who the substitute will be. Especially with the conference in mind this year I will have to think of lesson plans that will not just be review of previous materials for the students to complete with the substitute. As a new substitute with an automated system, I have started to email an introduction letter prior to the date I am substituting.

This allows me to provide the teacher with my abilities, certification and my level of familiarity with the school.


Initially, since I was unfamiliar with the school, I mentioned that I was new and willing to follow lesson plans. I always include my contact information in case the teacher would like to contact me prior to the substitute date. Sometimes, I get emails, other times I don't.

This also gives me the opportunity to clarify any information or acronymns that I am unfamiliar with. I've had two or three teacher's who appreciated the emails. I went to our state science conference and had a sub for two days. When I came back, my back activity table was covered with posters that had been taken out of their protective tools and all bunched in a pile. Posters were hung up in odd places in the classroom and more than a several went missing. Janice Novello Activity Points. We are not really having a ton of issues with automated sub placement at our school right now.

Our county has gone through a ton of budget cuts and we actually do not have any new subs coming into the system. Many of the subs that we are currently using are retired teachers which is working out well because they already have great classroom management for the most part. Jennifer asks, "What kind of experiences have the rest of you had with automated sub placement?

I don't remember if we could put in the names of individuals we did not want to have back in our classrooms. Does anyone know if that is a possibility?

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Carolyn, It depends on the district. The district can enact policies that make it challenging to request a specific person. My pet peeve is the "preferred sub" list. Usually you put a name or two on the list, and then those people get first shot. Unfortunately, this usually amounts to a few minutes for a sub in a few days, and go to the general sub population.

The subs who are working all the time and who are often requested are usually not able to respond during the day. Makes it challenging. If you are on the good side of the secretary, that individual usually is able to plug in a specific person, if they want to!

The filtering is not up to what it should be. Of course, when there is a chemistry department meeting, it will be tough to come up with a dozen science subs! So it really is a mixed bag. There are some real pluses, like response time. Subs can respond by smartphone now, and a lot work across multiple districts, so theoretically there is better placement.

It also may be a better solution for those that are just starting out, since retired teachers don't get all the calls! It is common knowledge that students are happy to have a substitute in class. They think it is a free day for them. Some also assume that the sub knows nothing about what their teacher would expect them to do, and so immediately the Sub enters the class, they begin to make voluntary suggestions about what should be done or not applicable to them. To make a productive day in class that can benefit the students, it is a good practice to make the working tools in class available to the substitute teacher which must begin with an effective lesson plan for the day.

There should also be an emergency lesson plan in case the primary teacher is taken off duty unexpectedly. If the lesson plan is clouded with too much text details, it can be difficult for the Sub to follow or much of the class time will be wasted in managing the class while at the same time implementing the teacher's instructions. In my opinion, students behavior is getting worse when students escape discipline even after the Sub has made this clear in his or her substitute notes.

A TA Teacher's Assistant can be a plus in the class in providing guidance for the guest teacher. Most students are disrespectful to Subs when they know that they can go away with their bad behavior without any reprimand. Schools are still in the learning process to find a solution or mechanism of intervention for good behavior Experience has thought me that courteous behavior should begin with the primary teacher and the credit worthiness of the classroom assignments.

Mohamed A. Bereteh 50 Activity Points. Since using a learning management system in my case Blackboard and flipping my classroom, I no longer the challenges of loosing a class day to a substitute teacher. Students have ongoing projects which require them to work efficiently when I am in school and when I am absent. I can monitor their learning from a distance and make adjustments as needed. Mario Patino Activity Points. In my opinion, monitoring students without the presence of a teacher can pose a greater challenge.

However, if the outcome of the goal you have set for the students works well, then it means the work load is less, and that technology makes it even more difficult to create jobs for any substitute. It may be a source of another pink slip dilemma for teachers, as I see it.

I think projects are designed for particular outcomes, but can hardly replace the instructional classroom assignments. More online teaching techniques have improved considerably, and have become more effective with the guidance of a teacher, on both ends. Mohamed, you raise valid concerns related to classroom management. Since flipping my classroom, I can actually monitor learning taking place outside of my classroom. This information is more informative than issuing a standard homework assignment and not knowing what happens to the assignment once it leaves my room. I share the BlackBoard report with my students so they can analyze their usage so they can make changes to academic behavior.

Students use monthly data to make learning goals and improve 21st. Century Life Skills. Prior to this, it was hard to influence change in learning behavior without any data. The data also provides me another resource when I meet with parents about academic performance. I also use this data for grouping and differentiation. The use of technology doesn't replace the teacher ; online technology is only a tool that a teacher can use to enhance learning and teaching.

I have become more efficient in how I use my time with students and also have provided more opportunities for my students to develop self-directed learning skills. As far as your concern with teacher quality, I couldn't agree with you more. As someone that has been a sub in the past, I know how difficult it can be. I always leave an updated seating chart since it is easier to deal with a student when you can call him by name. I also let my students know that if the sub leaves their name for any reason I will not accept any excuses from them.

I appreciate a sub that will leave a proper note and not one that says all was great, just to have another teacher tell me that my class was awfully loud. Donna Martin Activity Points. Usually when I need a substitute, I call them directly instead of going through the system. However there are times that the ones I know are all "taken". In any case, not only do I "prep" the sub, but most importantly, I prepare my students. My lesson plans are very detailed time, period, etc.. Often, my lessons are not changed for a substitute when I know that I'll be out in advance but instead, if I can get their email in advance, I like to give them the lesson ahead of time.

I tell the sub to feel free to write the names of students down if need be but to remember that they are the teacher in charge. My students on the other hand are given the talk to Would you have acted the same way? Rochelle Tamiya Activity Points. I have been a sub before. Have high regard for them.