Recently, a colleague was out from school, and I decided to check-in on the class during my prep period to make sure everything was running smoothly. As I walked in I heard a student say, “no mister, when we have a sub our teacher let’s us have our phones out.” The teacher quickly replied, “I see. Well I’m not a sub, though, I’m actually visiting teacher today.” This was one of the wittiest quips I’ve ever heard and loved it. He had everything more than under control.
After returning the next day, my colleague emailed our team about her new strategy for when she was gone.
“On sub days I have been trying to track student work completion and hold students accountable. I ask that the sub sign their work packets only if students have been working the whole time and not copying from others. For obvious reasons I can’t be 100% sure kids weren’t copying, but overall the sub signature system seems to work. I then make a graph of student completion by class and show it as an opening the next day. I ask students to reflect on how they did; what was successful, what could they improve, how they felt in class, etc.”
I love how this strategy increases accountability as well as the opportunity for students to reflect on why working with a substitute can be valuable. Whether we end up with an average substitute or a visiting teacher, I think this idea is exciting and worth trying!
What other ideas do you use to motivate students when you are absent?