On days that I get called in late or have no time to look over plans beforehand, I will quickly look at my plans and only focus on what needs to be done right away. I will then use the next break to look ahead at plans for the rest of the day and figure everything else out.
I like to have a class list of all the students’ names that I keep with me all day. I refer to this list often and it helps me to remember the kids’ names when I need to.
I also make sure to turn on all of the necessary technology for the day right away. Sometimes it takes a while to get the computer up and running and to find the necessary files and internet links that will be needed for the day.
Some teachers have small lamps that they turn on around the room, so I look for those too.
I check to make sure that I have all the materials and activities that are needed for the day. The teachers are great about setting out materials but sometimes items are missed and it is better to locate those items before I actually need them.
What helps me start the day off on the right foot is having a solid plan.
Having the day mapped out by time of day is the most helpful.
For the most part, the teachers that I sub for print out a plan of activities for the day. I write notes in the margins of these plans so that they are easier to follow.
I use a highlighter to note the important things to remember.
I write down times that certain kids need to go to groups and also any changes that I know of for the day (like school assemblies that have not been added to the plans).
I also add in notes about optional activities or choices so that it is easy to find that information when I need it.
Using technology effectively
Most teachers that I sub for use a SMART Board projector which shows their lessons in a slideshow. I make sure to look those over first thing in the morning because the notes and slideshow may not match up completely.
I also check the links in the slideshow lessons to make sure that they work ahead of time. Technology is so wonderful in the classroom, but when things are not working it can be a stressful time as a substitute. Sometimes links time-out and I do not have the necessary passwords to view the material.
I like to double check all that stuff before the kids come in that way the day runs more smoothly. I will also have a heads up about needing alternative activities.
Knowing the going home procedure
Halfway through the day I will look ahead at the bus/going home list. I will look at how the kids will be going home and check in with any kids whose schedule is different day by day. For example, if Johnny goes home on the pink bus Wednesdays and Fridays and is picked up by a parent on the other days, I will tell Johnny what day of the week it is and remind him of his routine.
Sometimes kids will tell me that they are going home a different way than I have listed on the going-home list. In those cases I will ask the office on the way out or ask the teacher on bus duty to call and check with the office for me.
I always make sure that I know the procedure for going home at the school that I am subbing in. Every school has a different process.