Due to a medical condition, I’ve had to miss the last three weeks of school. Every teacher knows the struggle of planning for a substitute! Planning for a long-term substitute is no different. Fortunately for me, a good friend (and retired English teacher) offered to sub for me while I am out recuperating, and I know that my students are in good hands. I have no worries about the content I’ve left for them being covered in a masterful manner.
In typical Type A fashion, I put together everything for my substitute in a handy binder. I left lesson plans, handouts, teaching notes, assessment tools, and answer keys. I left role sheets and daily outlines of how the class should run. I even left a digital timer to help keep things running smoothly! I micromanaged everything I could micromanage! I spent hoursputting together notes and photocopying handouts to make everything as easy as possible for my substitute. But the more notes I typed and the more handouts I made, the more anxious I became. I’ve heard for years that teachers make more decisions in a day’s time than a neurosurgeon, but during my planning I realized that most of those decisions are based on my personal knowledge of my students and thatis something I can’t leave to a substitute.
How can I tell a substitute that I meet daily with Wren* to discuss the latest novel she’s reading and that we both look forward to those few minutes of time? Can I ask a sub to remember to encourage Collin about his writing because I worry that his self-doubt will keep him from progressing? Ari needs daily reassurance about her capabilities and Zavier needs daily reminders about his behavior. And they ALL need to know every day that they matter to me.
When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher encouraged meto be a teacher and I have done my best to model some of my teaching practices after her. I remember that she laughed withus; she had actual conversationswith us; she asked our opinions and listenedto our answers. Mrs. Frame said I could, so I did. This is what my students need from me.
*My students’ names have been changed.
WVCTE is wondering what you do to meet the needs of your students?