Monday, January 18, 1999
Substitute Teachers' Meeting
Open Forum
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Janet/AR's Site
Related Books
Substitute Teaching : A Handbook for Hassle-Free Subbing
Super Sub : A Must-Have Handbook for Substitute Teachers
Substitute Teachers Meet the 3rd Monday of each Month
Janet/AR/Host - Welcome everyone to the Substitute Teacher's Meeting.
Janet/AR/Host - Lynne, does a sub have to have some kind of training before they are allowed to sub?
Lynne - Not in PA, and the ones I know have no training, except a degree in teaching.
Janet/AR/Host - John, Mass. seems to be very organinzed. Here in AR anyone can be a sub that passes the finger print test with the police department.
Lynne - NOW DOONT GET ME WRONG< I didn't mean that is no training!!! I just meant SUBSTITUTE TRAINING!!!!!
Janet/AR/Host - Lynne, it is ok I understood what you meant.
john-mass - Those interested in substitute teachers working together for improved pay, benefits, professional training, might wish later to try the new NA-POST web page site: url:; let us know what you think;
Janet/AR/Host - What are some of the problems you have run across as a sub.?
Lynne - I am a certified teacher, but right now I'm tutoring, and finding THAT demanding. Making up tests and grading homework, etc. I am just getting back in the swing. My youngest son is in first grade.
Lynne - John, the first thing I think of is how can we get anywhere if the administrations don't like us uniting. Won't they hire other subs??
john-mass - Well, janet, it is not much differenct in Massachusetts; main need is for a police or criminal check; local cities and towns (there are some 351) try to hire only people with Bachelors degrees; but pay and benefits are so poor, that most Mass. districts now are considering hiring people with only high school degrees and some college training; this is the state where Horace Mann founded public schools! But I still enjoy my substitute work; do two or three days weekly now.
Lynne - Janet, you are having trouble with that computer, aren't you?
john-mass - Well, Lynne and Janet and others: NA-POST advocates more pay, benefits, professional training; not necessarily a union; we recommend at the very least that substitute teachers create school district associations or groups, such as three new organizations founded in 1998 in Florida: West Palm Beach county, Orange County and Volusia County, to let School administrators and school boards that they need to make some fundamental changes; much more pay, benefits, possibly created a cadre of permanent substitute teachers, as proposed by Professors Hughes and Griswold of Ashland University of Ohio
Janet/AR/HOST - John, We really appreciate you efforts to improve substitute teachers.
DLS/ny - Is this chat offering advice for substitute planning - my last sub let the kids use hundreds of dollars in materials
Lynne - Our school district has hired one permanent sub already. I sub for just our little district, so I hope they eventually hire me for a permanent sub as well.
john-mass - to DLS/NY note, not sure if you are a regular or contract teacher; but in Boston, too often, the regular or contract teachers that substitutes replace do not leave proper lesson plans or good instructions; and so many substitute teachers are hired with no training or background in teaching that it is a miracle that sometimes more materials are not lost or wasted!
DLS/ny - I will look in the archive - no disrespect intended for a difficult job you perform
Lynne - It is very hard to wait till the very last minute, not knowing if I'll receive a call to work.. Is everyone dressed and ready? I'm not!
Janet/AR/HOST - Lynne, no but I also have to have planned dates to sub due to my full time job.
Liz-AK - I've just graduated with my degree and subbing is a little scary for me, although they prepared us for the possibility of being called at the last minute.
john-mass - note: on the one hour calling; at least there is an improvement in Boston the past four years; with a somewhat impersonal electronic, computerized calling system; but often a person can get called in evenings, between 5:30 p.m. and 9:pm, and then accept assignments for the next day, with no phone calls in early morning and a fixed assignment.
Lynne - Ippah, thanks for joining us. I'd love your input. How do you prepare for subs, in case you need them.
Janet/AR/HOST - Liz, I was terrified at first but I am enjoying it more and more.
Janet/AR/HOST - Lynne, here the teachers have to have a sub folder with all important info. Teachers now just leave me their lesson plan book and I go by that. But some will leave detailed lesson plans for the sub.
Ippah - I use a very detailed day plan Lynne that outlines how my day runs...I fill in the details each day...I assign a student to give assistance to the sub, and usually have my hubby take a details sheet in before 830 in the morning to fill in any gaps I may have forgotten!
Liz-AK - When you guys go into the classroom for the first time, do you explain the way things work with you right off the bat or do you attempt to follow the teachers managment plan?
Lynne - Liz, on my first day I shook so much subbing in high school, that I couldn't write down the absentees for homeroom. My hands were shaking. But it wasn't as bad once I got started. I know the kids well, now.
john-mass - Liz--are you in Alaska? my step-son did substitute teaching two years in Fairbanks; now is a full-time fourth grade teacher in Fairbanks school district; where I understand they badly need many teachers
Janet/AR/HOST - Liz, it is a good thing to let your students know right up front what you expect from them. dealing with behavior as well as the acedemic part.
Lynne - Ippah, you're great. I have some great teachers, and then there are those that expect the kids to study a textbook chapter all period.
Liz-AK - Yes, I'm in Alaska. I just got done in December with my student teaching in North Pole (just outside of Fairbanks). They do need subs badly.
Janet/AR/HOST - OK tee, join in any time.
Janet/AR/HOST - There is a sub shortage everywhere!
tee - Why is everyone so short of subs (we call 'em supplies) Im in Canada and we have a major shortage..
Liz-AK - I'm hoping that the sub shortage is going to work to my advantage, because I'm going to be out of state for a month.
Janet/AR/HOST - Tee, for many reasons. Pay is bad, no benefits, etc.
Ippah - Lynne I subbed a bit before I got a contract...and I always took along lots of my own materials..and music stuff since that's my bag...and I used it quite frequently!..I always leave a note telling the sub to change or delete anything they aren't comfortable with...You are the teacher when the RCT is away!
Lynne - Speaking of the sub shortage, people said I'd have to wait to sub all week, but from the second week I've subbed almost every day. I am in a very small community in PA.
tee - Sorry, but it's very good for me (although it's in Canadian funds)
Ben - tee, good teachers, especially suplly teachers are hard to find. They are people who need to cherished.
Janet/AR/HOST - Liz, me too. What is everyone certified in. I am cert. in elem. ed/spec. ed/and social studies.
Liz-AK - That and the new trend is for lower class sizes which means more people are being hired for more positions thus depleting the sub pool.
john-mass - tee: reminder to try NA-POST web site: url: for ideas on how to alleviate the substitute shortage!
Liz-AK - I'm working on getting my certification in elem. education. I"m waiting to find out if I have all of my transcripts.
john-mass - tee: I follow newspaper articles on the Internet; so am becoming familiar with "supply" teachers--recently read article from Toronto Star--where the school department is trying to eliminate Supply Teachers and have the regular or contract teachers assume that function!
Ben - Of course they also need the basic from which to work from. It is therefore most impoirtant that they have proper plans for the day from which to work.
Janet/AR/host - I just heard on the news that within the next 5 years there is gonna be a terrible Teacher shortage.
Liz-AK - In Fairbanks there is such a shortage of subs that they have gone to hiring a permanent sub for each building who will do just about anything they ask them to do. Music, P.E., Spec.Ed etc.
Lynne - I am certified in Secondary Ed English. They are giving me what they call emergency cert. in Spanish, Library Science, and Special Ed., although I don't feel so confident with Special Ed.
Ippah - I am in Ontario too john...and they are like gold...I think that their demise is not likely though!
tee - So far, I've had hardly any problems-the teachers all left specific instructions (plans) and I know pretty much what to do.
Janet/AR/host - Lynne, spec. ed. is a very wonderful field to get into. I totally enjoy the spec. ed. kids.
Liz-AK - Have any of you ever been left with no plans or incomplete plans? How does one compensate when they do not know the class or what has been happening?
Ippah - Our principal would like to have a permanent supply but our board won't hear of it!
tee - Hi Ippah Are we the only Canadians? It's just that I dont understand some of the terms Americans use (no offence)
Janet/AR/host - Liz, I take along what I call my goodie bag.
Liz-AK - tee-which terms are you not understanding, maybe we can fill you in?
Ippah - I think you have to carry your own emergency plans Liz...or failing that consult another teacher on staff
tee - I usually can tell which student is 'on the ball' and the really help me
john-mass - Note: if the "permanent" substitute category catches on in more school district; this would be a good start; then work to upgrade pay, benefits and professional training; there will probably always be need for day-to-day substitutes; but no reason why a permanent cadre or substitute can't be assigned to each school; if the regular teachers are not absent that day, then the substitute can fill in to relieve a regular teacher or do office or clerical duties; and this adds stability to the school; and children see the substitute teacher as a regular, permanent part of the school staff, NOT as too often as a transient in only for the day or a "warm body."
Janet/AR/host - Don't be afraid to ask questions if one does not understand that is what we are here for.
Liz-AK - Janet-Is your goodie bag basically lessons that can be used to fill in or is it activities that are educational and keep the students occupied?
tee - Liz-for ex. what is latch-key duty?
Liz-AK - I've never heard that term, but I'm guessing that is after school duty of some sort. Maybe like detention or study hall.
Ippah - I'm guessing tee..but I suspect it's before or after school duty for kids who have no one at home
Janet/AR/host - Liz, yes it is!
Liz-AK - oops, I was talking about Latch Key duty. Does anybody else know what this means?
Janet/AR/host - We call that our After School Program.
Lynne - I have decided to try reading aloud those exciting Reader's Digest articles if I am left stranded again. I love the adventures in real life.
Ben - The Suplly teacher should need only worry about being on time, familiarizing themslees with the responsibilities for the day and relying on nearby colleagues to assist them. Unfotunately not all people are always amenable. Supply teaching is truly challenging and takes strong caring people to fill the role.
Lynne - John, I really agree. Since I've been at the same school so often, the kids treat me a lot better than the "transients."
tee - Detention, I know. Study Hall? Ippah thanks but we dont have that, do you?
john-mass - Ippah: then this is the challenge for substitute teachers--to create cooperation with parents, regular teachers,others, to convince the principal and/or school boards that a good way is to create permanent substitute or permanent "supply" teachers.
Janet/AR/host - Lynne, I have subbed a lot at one school and the others call but I am usually already taken.
Ippah - We have a list of supplies that we call to our school first...they then become familiar with many of the classes and the staff as well
Janet/AR/host - After School Programs are not detention.
Ben - JOhn our Board has a list from which they seek supply teachers. Only those on the list will be called for this purpose.
Liz-AK - Most of the subs in the district I just finished my student teaching in are aiming for long term or contracted positions. I've noticed that there are few who just want the experience of going from class to class all the time.
john-mass - Latch Key--often used by Massachusetts librarians, especially in larger cities, where boys and girls, age 9 to 13, spend considerable time in library after school, because no one is home
tee - I got tons of information from the Internet on 'substitutes'. It really helped. Gave suggestions for "Busy Work", tips, etc.
Ben - eve our Board is not the only oard that does this in Ontario!
Janet/AR/host - The teachers that work the after school programs here help students with their homework first then we play educational games with them.
tee - Thanks to all for definition
Liz-AK - Yes, I know that most After School programs are not detention. I was just guessing.
Lynne - Once I took in the Youth version of the Book of Virtues and read a myth--it WAS Mythology Class, and had them write who their hero was in real life (Jr. High) it actually was so inspiring--the students' writings, that I gavethem to the principal to read!!
Liz-AK - tee-Where did you find all of this information? I could sure use it. I'm trying to absorb as much advice and ideas as possible.
Janet/AR/host - Liz, I did a search from a seach engine like yahoo and found a lot of info there.
Janet/AR/host - Lynne, I am mainly subbing in primary school (grades K-3) and an alternative school. I really enjoy them both.
ippah - As an RCT I really appreciate a note telling how the day went who caused a problem what worked well etc. Is this a common practice for subs?
Liz-AK - ippah-According to what we were taught it was a neccessity if not an obligation.
Janet/AR/host - ippah, yes it is with me. I have a worksheet that I fill out and take with me. The teachers really like it.
Lynne - We knew that the days before Christmas vacation would be very wild, so I brought in my guitar, and, to some of the boys' embarrassment, we in German class sang "Feliz Navidad" to the Spanish class. Now they always ask if I brought my guitar.
Janet/AR/host - Lynne, HOW FUN!!!
Janet/AR/host - GREAT Ben!!!!
tee - Liz, Hang on I'll get it for you...Its called Substitute Teaching written by: Mr. Sturgeon Illustrated by: Keith Gribble
Lynne - Do you like detailed notes, Ippah? Because I write books for letters, and I seem to be no different with logs for the school day.
ippah - Sure Lynne...lets me feel I am getting to know the sub...and that's important for me
Ben - Ippah, I generally leave a daybook that is much more deatiled than my daily plans. I also make every attempt to get things done so that it is clearly laid out for the supply so that they may concentrate entirely on teaching and not running off this or that!.
Janet/AR/host - I have a couple of substitute sites on my website for one to link to.
Lynne - I've read in different sub books that you should correct the regular teachers papers as a sub. I don't feel right about that. Suppose I make a mistake???
tee - That's nice, Ben because today I spent most of my lunch hour running things off and punching holes in sheets You're welcome Liz-Ak Also you can do a search on substitute teaching and find lots of stuff
Liz-AK - So, the more detailed the note the better? I'm not saying like a transcript or anything, but just a detailed summary.
Lynne - Ben, what is a day book? What does it look like??
Ben - Hey lynne, personally I'd appreciate the help in marking. Wouldn't you if you were off and had to face it when you returned.
Janet/AR/host - Lynne, I have to agree with that. But some expect all papers to be graded and handed back at the end of the day. Especially in elementary.
Liz-AK - I've been told that too. Should you correct the papers for the teacher or just let them know which papers were turned in and what not?
tee - Ben, a lot of times we dont get the time
ippah - I agree with you Lynne...I wouldn't want a sub doing my marking..although I expect them to do any marking of work that they have had the children do
Janet/AR/host - Liz, I keep each paper clipped together in individual piles so the teacher knows what is what and I also can see who turned in their work and who did not.
Lynne - I really do want to know what a day book is. I'm serious.
Lynne - So, the conclusion is, only mark what you've assigned??
tee - Lynne I think it's just what is implies a book for everyday with times, maybe and details of whats to be done??
Janet/AR/host - Lynne, yes unless otherwise told.
ippah - Yes Liz although it's not necessary to say what you great detail...that's usually obvious...more on how the children case follow up is needed for behavior or otherwise