Sub Procedures

Classroom ProceduresAs I study the challenges that substitute teachers face, I have come to the conclusion that one of the things that make subbing difficult is the breakdown of procedures in the classroom. Let me explain.

Each teacher is allowed to make their own classroom rules and procedures. Some things may be suggested by the school’s administration, but each teacher needs flexibility in deciding what procedures will help them be most effective. Does this mean school should establish procedures school wide so there is consistency from class to class. No, this would be a huge hindrance to the regular teacher.

Some classrooms, particularly at the Elementary School level, have procedures posted on the wall. I always try to follow those procedures to the letter, if at all possible. However, these lists are seldom exhaustive.I have also been in classrooms where the regular teacher has done a fabulous job of creating a notebook full of detailed information on how to handle each and every procedural process. I am always thankful for that kind of information. However, unless you are teaching in a class for an extended period (that is, more than one day) you are unlikely to get the chance to review and learn all such procedures.

What then is a sub to do? My suggestion is to put together a short presentation informing students of what your procedural expectations are for the day. You should be able to do this in five minutes or less so you don’t cut into class time any more than is absolutely necessary. You are also going to have to be very flexible in which procedures you use in each particular situation and how you explain them. For instance, seniors taking a test would require very little instruction where grade school students would likely require a great deal more.

I have a short Power Point presentation I often (though not always) show to my classes. In it we quickly review bathroom procedures, fire and lock-down drill procedures and more. There is a bit a humor in it and the students generally enjoy watching it. I’ve actually had students who have seen it in another class ask me to show it in classes where it wasn’t needed.

Making your procedures slightly outrageous will help make them more memorable. For instance. have students who want to use the bathroom carry with them a large and silly looking hall pass. Ask students who come late to class sing a few bars of their favorite song… You get the picture.

Adopting new procedures for a day or a few days is no great challenge for your students, yet it helps maintain your professionalism and authority in the classroom. You are also far less likely to hear the complaint, “But our teacher let’s us do this…” Many times such statements are bogus, which makes it all that much more important to establish your own procedures while you are teaching. Your response can be as simple as, “I’m sorry, but Mrs. X is not here today so we will be following my procedures. You are welcome to take it up with him/her when they return.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


Wintertime Preschool Activities

Preschool is a fantastic introduction for children.  The valuable lessons that they learn are all conducted in a fun manner that helps to make education fun.  In the wintertime it is often more difficult to have educational outdoor activities and as all kinds, they can get quite rambunctious inside.  Here are some wintertime preschool activities that kids always love.

Maple Candy

This is a very easy recipe that is a lot of fun for kids and very easy for them to manage at their coordination level.  Preschool activities such as this introduce them to basic cooking, science and just an overall fun for making things.

1) Find clean snow and pack it into a flat wide container such as a deep baking dish or large casserole dish.

2) Have the children draw designs in the snow or write their name or letters they have learned

3) Adults – boil 100% pure maple syrup over medium high heat until it reaches 235°F.

4) Drizzle the syrup into the designs the children drew into the snow.  If you are confident that they have the coordination, you can allow them to pour their own designs.  Arm them with an oven mitt and pour the warmed syrup into a plastic measuring cup.  Guide their hand as they pour the syrup into the snow.

5) Let it cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Colored Ice Candles

Fire and Ice are a cool combination, no matter what age you are.  These ice candles are fun preschool activities that are very fast and simple and have a picture perfect result.

1) Fill a bucket about ⅔ of the way of ice cold water.

2) Have your preschool child mix in a few drops of food coloring, they can mix and match colors to create their own shade.

3) Place a smaller container such as a soup tin in the middle of the bucket of water, add rocks to keep it from floating (but not touching the bottom)

4) Rest a string across the top of the ice cream pail and use clothespins to pull it tight and hold it to the pail and also to the soup tin.  This will keep the tin from floating to the edges of the pail.  Be sure that the clothespin is not touching the colored water.

5) Allow the creation to freeze outside overnight.

6) The next day remove the ice from the pail (you may have to run hot water over the outside to loosen it)

7) Fill the soup tin with warm water to loosen it and then remove it from the inside of the ice creation.

8) Place a candle inside your new ice candle holder and light it. Voila! Fire and Ice in a beautiful homemade sculpture

Fancy Snow Angels

Not all preschool activities need to be conducted indoors.  When the sun is shining, it is always great to get outside, no matter what the season.  Snow angels are a great way to enjoy the outdoors while creating your own little masterpiece. Children will need to fully dressed from head to toe in snow gear in order to stay warm during this activity.

1) Help your preschooler lay down face up in a fresh and clean area of snow.

2) Have them slide their arms and legs up and down to create “wings” and a “robe”

3) Help pick them up out of their “angel” without damaging it

4) They can now decorate their snow angel with colored paint, twigs, and other craft supplies.  Colored water in spray cans works really well for this activity.

Winter Treasure Hunt

Preschool activities that end with a reward are always intriguing and fun.  This activity will get kids up and moving with a great end to the game. It also helps encourage their thought process as well as decision making skills.

1) Place packages of hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, stir sticks, apple cider and other yummy drink mix parts into small baggies.  Make sure they are waterproof, if not then consider using small tupperware containers.

2) Hide these packages outside in the snow in various areas of a yard

3) Make a treasure map giving hints to where the “treasure’ is

4) After enough treasure is found, create warm drinks for your “pirates” and enjoy the rest of the day.  Remind them that the more they find, the better their drinks will taste.

This article was written by Regina Pflieger, a work-from-home mom who discovered that online preschool programs include both indoor and outdoor preschool activities for kids and parents.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


A Second Chance

As a few minutes ago, my first book is no longer free. It was free for a long weekend but that opportunity is now officially over. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance to get a free book from this site. As of now, you can get my second book, just published this weekend, and the following site:

Grab your copy now. I don’t know how long this promotion will last, so download it know while you have the chance.

A Year in the Classroom

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Free Resources


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yours for FREE this weekend: The Substitute Teacher’s Toolkit!

teachers.v01 For a limited time (this weekend, from Friday, June 7 to Sunday, June 9) my new book, The Substitute Teacher’s Toolkit, will be offered for free for anyone who wants to download it. Make no mistake, you will be doing me a huge favor if you take advantage of this offer; so download away and tell all your friends. This is a case where ‘the more’ really is ‘the merrier.’



Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


Parenting: Keeping Your Child Healthy And Motivated During Exams


Image by scui3asteveo

Finals in high school are can be incredibly stressful for your teenager – not only can they majorly affect your child’s grade, but they could play a role in your daughter or son’s college acceptance.

While there are plenty of study tips and tricks for students online (creating acronyms is a good one) there aren’t many tips being given to parents during this pressing time. Getting good grades is a great motivation for your child, but they also need your encouragement, so if you’re a parent to a stressed out teenager, here are five tips for you to aid your child and keep them healthy during this nerve-racking time.

1) Location, Location, Location

Besides being a very clichéd real estate term, this is also a fundamental thing to remember when preparing to study. Help your child choose the right place to settle down and get to work. Avoid areas of the house with the most traffic and don’t even let them think about plonking down in front of the TV.

2) Making Nutritional Choices

I recall when I was a student; my favourite study breaks always seemed to involve a trip to the kitchen, where I’d usually stare blankly into the fridge and subsequently select the easiest to eat (and usually most junk- like) food we had.

Snacking is a staple part of studying, just be sure your child is munching on the right snacks. Avoid the pop tarts, the chocolate bars, and the ice cream and instead fill your kitchen with nuts, fruit, vegetables and some dip.  Also, be sure they’re drinking plenty of water.

3) Planning for Success 

Sit down with your child and figure out how much time they need to dedicate to studying, and which subjects they need to allocate more time for. Some questions to ask your kids: which exam is up first? Which exam do they expect to do well on, and which needs more attention and focus? Set up a schedule that includes breaks and early bed times – sleep is another fundamental key to success.

4) Work Your Body and Your Mind

Use study breaks to get their body moving. Instead of giving them 10 or 15 minutes on Facebook, ask them to go for a walk with you. A brisk walk will re-energize their minds and fresh air is always helpful. Getting good grades is a great motivation in education for your child but they need breaks too!

5) Learning the Material 

If your children study best on their own, then by all means let them be, but most teens can greatly benefit from you getting involved in their studying. If they have notes or flashcards use those to quiz them on the subject matter. If not, try having them teach you the subject, especially the parts they’re shaky on. A teacher once told me; you don’t really understand something when you think you do, you only truly understand something when you can teach it to someone else.

Don’t hesitate to ask your child if they need help beyond what you can offer and if they do, consider contacting their teacher and ask if they could suggest a fellow student or tutor that could help your child out.

Are there any tips you’ve learned from personal experience for helping your child through exam season?

Featured images:

The mom of a beautiful baby boy, Louise Blake enjoys spending her free time writing blog posts about parenting for companies such as Carrot Rewards.


Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Education, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Infographic: Making the Grade

Making the Grade: Great Teachers in Our Schools
Source: Making the Grade: Great Teachers in Our Schools

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Teaching as a Profession


Tools That Work And Why We Abandon Them

Some years ago I tried my hand at insurance sales. I had to learn the hard way that I am not very good at selling, though I really liked the guys I worked with, especially the boss, who was a prince of a man. He used to tell me on a regular basis that he would find a tool that was really effective and he would work it for all it was worth for several months. Later, he would find his sales were falling off and he would wonder why. On closer inspection he would find that for some strange reason he had stopped using the tool that had been so effective. It’s a strange quirk of human nature that we do this; we find something that works and use it effectively, then we feel like we have graduated past needing it and stop using it- to our detriment.

Strange as that may seem, I have found the same to be true of teaching. Several months ago I discovered the effectiveness of bending down to talk to a disruptive student and whispering in their ear (this is a stage whisper that can usually be heard by curious students three aisles over) “You are a bright student and I like having you in my class. However, I cannot tolerate these continuous disruptions. The next time you do that I will have to ask you to leave.”

This strategy works for several reasons; 1) most students are terribly self absorbed and a bit insecure, so a complement serves them well, 2) it is completely devoid of drama and rarely provokes a haughty reply, 3) it puts the onus of responsibility squarely where it belongs- on the student. There is no mystery about what is going to happen; the next time they disrupt you calmly take action. Period.

One of the  things I like most about this strategy is that I stay friends with the student being disciplined. There is no anger or drama, so I can see the student later in the day or on a following day and speak to them as if this incident never happened. I could not do that if I berated the student, told them how bad they were and then made a show of removing them from class as I saw someone else do today. I hate that… or at least, I did.

Yesterday, someone told me they thought I was mean. “What happened,” they said, “You used to be so nice!” I brushed the statement off at first since the one saying it had just been disciplined, but on further consideration I realized I had got away from quietly instructing students who misbehaved before pulling the trigger on discipline.

I know, some behavior does not warrant this approach. Yesterday I heard a girl call out and turned just in time to see her strike her neighbor. I immediately sent her out of the room without a warning. Students should know that striking another student is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. But other things, like talking out of turn, deserve a bit more finesse. That’s where the quiet description of what is going to happen works particularly well.

I promised myself today that I would go back to what I knew would work, and sure enough, it did work, just as it had in the past. Why do we move away from things we know are effective? I don’t know. Some strange quirk of human nature, I suppose. But we can overcome that tendency if we try.

Make careful note of what is working for you and review those notes religiously. Look for the things you may have drifted away from that could be serving you well now. Most of us know what we need to do, we just wander away from it after a time. Get back to basics and make things work for you again.


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Growth


Tags: , , , , , , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,320 other followers