Modifying my practice by subbing

I am substitute teaching until I start student teaching. We are presently in week 4 of the school year and today I did my 13th sub job. I have worked a mix of elementary, middle, and high school in addition to special ed classrooms so far.

Today I had a particular middle school job for the third time and the day was magical. Each day working with this classroom, I have tweaked things to make them better.

Between today and the first day, the differences were significant. I now create a welcome slide with directions for the kids upon entering. In this case, they were to be in their seats reading silently. On the slide it said that anyone not in their seats would be marked tardy. The directions on the board are so critical because if any kid asks what they are supposed to do I can tell them to look at the board.

I started keeping track of the”take a breaks” I was giving kids. In my toughest hour, 7 out of 25 had to take breaks– mostly for disrupting other kids. The tracking, a technique I borrowed from a teacher I subbed for yesterday, was good because I otherwise lose count how many breaks a kid takes. When tracking, I know precisely when the student needs to go to the buddy room. Three kids ended up having to go. All three seem to have challenges with keeping hands to self, moderating their volume, and not interrupting others. The tracking sheet is something I left for the classroom teacher so she knows who took breaks and why.

I also instituted a sign out system because the school I am in seems to have rather inconsistent bathroom/locker/drinking fountain policies. By making kids sign out of the room, they were less likely to want to leave. In addition, if a kid went already I had it logged. With so much else to think about, I have a tendency to forget who goes to the bathroom. Bathroom is a tough issue that varies school to school.

Each hour, I went over expectations. Everyday I sub, I now have to review what I expect. Part of this is embracing my role as the teacher. Since I am in charge I get to set rules and I have the RIGHT to set my own boundaries for what I deem tolerable behavior and what is not– particularly when the expectations are not given to me by the classroom teacher.

I can honestly say I really look forward to getting my own classroom where I will be able to put my own system of classroom management into full effect.

Already, I know I will:

-start the year with desks in rows. That way I set a tone that this room is meant for working. We can rearrange desks later if students prove they are responsible enough to sit in more collaborative arrangements.

-have clear ways for students to show they have met or are working towards learning target every day. Quite often in classrooms, I find that teachers do a really good job putting targets on board, but don’t really have a way to see where students land towards meeting them. If students know what they are working towards, they will more likely buy in to what they are doing.

-keep the number of transitions to as few as possible. Each time we move from lecture to small group work or to individual work is a transition. Each transition is a potential disruption.

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