4.26.2013

The Terror of Being Gone

Okay, so over the years I have tried to make subs feel as comfortable in my room as possible.  I often have no idea if the sub has any experience with art, let alone teaching it.  I hate leaving videos - though I am close to doing that.

The first time I had a sub I spent HOURS writing my sub plans so that the kids could keep working on their project and not get behind my other classes - what a mistake.  The kids needed to use ONLY primary colors as we were doing a Roy Lichtenstien project.  I came back to projects that not only had secondary colors - but that had gold, and silver... The sub went into my cupboards and took out both acrylic and tempera paints to let the kids use.  (Note: I left out the primary colors, bolded/underline what the primary colors were in my notes)

A few years later after using 'filler' projects and videos - I thought I'd give it another chance.  Perhaps now that I had been teaching a few years maybe my sub plans would be clearer.  MISTAKE.  I came back to a pile of 1st grade projects stacked on the table.  Now, this doesn't seem like a problem - but the kids had to cut and glue things down for this assignment.  I came back to a pile of 1st grade projects glued together.  It never occurred to me to tell an adult to put glued work on the drying rack - or at least to NOT stack it.  ::sigh:: It seemed common sense enough to me that you wouldn't stack glued things together..... alas I was wrong.

So, now - after having these and other painful returns to school I have a list of filler activities for the students to do with subs. I let the subs pick what they want to do with each class on copy paper. (Design your own money, design your dream house, your family wins the lottery - how would you spend it?) The students can use markers and crayons - that's it!  The projects are fun, they require students to be creative problem solvers.  I like doing it this way because it keeps the kids busy, not videos all day, and I don't have to stress.  Well, that is when they follow my plans.....

I had a sub yesterday as I unexpectedly I woke up about 3 am with back spasms - nothing crippling, but bad enough I didn't want to chance it not being better by school time and having to try and teach.  I got myself a sub, Advil and called my Mom. (gotta love Moms!)  Anyhow, I stopped by school this morning to pick up some stuff for my other school and I realize that my sub used LARGE paper - like 12x18 paper... uhh that's not copy paper.  I go to my paper cupboard -- sure enough a stack of paper is gone. 

 I wanted to scream, cry and throw things all at once!!!

 If you don't understand my reaction then you clearly have never had a budget where you get less than 2.oo per kid for the WHOLE school year.  All supplies are balanced out, even rationed.  I have in my notes to use copy paper as to not use my nice drawing paper.  ::sigh::

I really don't want to just show videos when I am gone - or have to fear supplies will be wasted.  My next idea is to create a sub BOX.  A box that will have lessons in it and the paper and anything else the sub might need.

If you are ever going to sub for an art teacher - PLEASE for the love of Pete, follow the sub plans.  PLEASE don't go through cupboards and think you can use anything you want to enhance the projects.

Thanks.

Anyone else got sub-proof ways to keep your classroom on track or, heck, share some horror stories?!

13 comments:

Lola said...

I do just that...a sub BOX, clearly labelled (one time a sub AND my principal said they couldn't find it, although it was right where I said it was in my notes)with inexpensive paper, a few boxes of crayons (I teach on a cart and most kids have their own in their desks) and some solid but simple lesson plans that anyone (art teacher or not) can follow. Most of the time I come back and exactly that has been done.

Holly V. said...

I am somewhat lucky I guess. I have never had to deal with sub plans. If I am off, my classes are canceled for the day. While it's inconvenient for the classroom teacher, it is nice for me because I don't have to worry about the craziness of sub plans.

Phyl said...

I have now seen it from both sides. After teaching for 36 years, I have now retired and have subbed a few times this year. Unfortunately, not all teachers leave beautiful (or ANY) sub plans.

My first day subbing, I came in to a room with no daily plans, no sub plans, no classroom procedures. NOTHING. Believe me, i looked and looked. I had brought a couple of motivating books with me 'just in case' and indeed I used the book 'Not a Box' that I had brought. I could only find broken stubs of crayons, dead markers, tiny paper, dried up glue, and I was about to face a day of kindergartners and first graders. Another teacher who came in to see if I needed anything told me it would be ok to use stuff I found in the room, and actually we found multiple class packs of markers crayons and more, enough for years of use, and reams and reams of dusty old paper. So I did open a couple of things, and left a friendly note for the teacher explaining why I had done this.

The second time I subbed (a different school, different district) there were plans and materials left for me, and I believe I followed them carefully. But there were NO class lists, NO seating charts, NO classroom procedures, NO emergency routines posted; nothing. There was no way I even knew who I did or didn't have in the room. And again, believe me, I hunted high and low for these things. And again, half the markers specifically left out for the project were DEAD, so we passed the one working red around the room and somehow managed.

My point is this: certainly if you leave clear instructions there's no reason for the sub to deviate, but if you don't, remember the sub has no choice but to improvise. I don't feel I had any other choice.

Mrs. Burgoyne said...

For emergency plans in my elementary classroom, I kept a set of worksheets at the ready with the originals and directions on how to make more copies. They are similar to the prompts you mentioned, but already copied on the appropriate size paper! I made most of them myself, inspired by The Anti-Coloring Books of Susan Striker. Hope this helps!

Ms Novak said...

Phyl, I completely understand and agree. If I hadn't left anything I would have not been so frustrated by it.

I have a packet that explains procedures not just in my room - but building wide (complete with what codes mean what if they are put over the PA).

I have seating charts with the students pictures on them. I describe where in the room the supplies are. I explain how kids are use to passing out and picking up supplies.

MOST subs I've had do a great job - it just is hard never knowing who is walking into your class.

Phyl said...

Thanks, I hope you don't think I was being critical of you in any way. Believe me, over 36 years teaching I had my share of horrible subs! So whenever I could, I used people I knew well, such as a former student teacher.

I was most surprised in both of those sub situations I mentioned before about the lack of any basic procedural stuff. I was REQUIRED in my job to have a sub folder on file in the office, with at least 3 emergency plans, class lists, seating charts, names of who in the school to contact for what, my class procedures, fire drill and lockdown procedures, etc. I also included a list of materials in the room that were ok for the sub to use, and where to locate them in the room. And on top of this, I left detailed sub plans any time I knew I would be out.

I was most concerned about not knowing e regency procedures, or basic classroom rules. We bloggers do a much better job in most of this stuff than, apparently, everyone else does!

Marcia Beckett said...

Totally hear what you are saying! I do the same thing as you. I have a folder of sub plans that I pull from if it is a planned absence and then an "emergency" sub folder in the office.

Mrs. C said...

Oh I feel your pain!!! I have come back after being out to many a project disaster! The best is when i leave SPECIFIC and DETAILED sub plans and come back to find that the sub disregarded everything and tried to have the kids work on their current projects(that i didn't want them to touch because i knew it would be a sub disaster!)AAAHHHH!!!! I have certain subs i love and can count on and try to get them when i can but sometimes its the luck of the draw!

juli leighton said...

Allllllll of those things have happened to me!!!! In some instances I found that the sub didn't speak or read English very well!!!!! :-0

lisafoleys said...

Hi,
I can totally relate to your post. I have had so many subs appear to not even read my very detailed plans. I put out the materials with notes on the stuff for each class so it is full proof. Apparently not:( I have over the years found good art subs, former student teachers, etc that do so much better. I always think I am being too anal about things being just so, but I don't think I am asking for much and I want to try and keep kids on track since they once see me once a week.

lisafoleys said...

One thing our district does is to allow us to rate subs, this may be too little too late, but they may get the point eventually. I have also been on both sides of the fence being a sub for a few months when moving to a new state I had jobs where there were no plans what soever and it wasn't a last minute absence. I prided myself in following directions and then some...like cleaning up tables, sinks, etc during prep periods if there was nothing to do:) I dread having to be out and emergency situations like yours are the worst if you can't get in to get things laid out.

Heather said...

I do a sub tub now. i have tried it all and with my hands up in surrender I now stick mostly to pre-prepared packets of plans that a sub can quickly and easily use. I wrote a post about it here: http://thebeeskneescousin.blogspot.com/2012/01/sub-plans.html I'm always on the lookout for a better way but with three buildings and travel, it's difficult to leave plans in three places and guarantee that the sub will follow them.

Megan Gordon said...

I just found your blog via Pinterest and had to comment. I left my middle school art teaching position for two months while on maternity leave. I typed up every single lesson plan, included examples and step by step visuals, organized everything, had a calendar of when plans should happen, and supplies labeled and organized. Everything was perfect. But my sub then did different things, using up my surplus supplies that I've been hoarding. Yes, the kids wanted to do more fun projects (hello scratch boards!) but I ration those babies out! He also lost some tools and I watch them with my life! Ugh....