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Long-Term Subbing Guide for the Substitute Teacher

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Oct 14, 2011

Once you’ve accepted a long-term subbing assignment, you’ll need curriculum guidance, suggestions for grading papers and administering tests, and guidelines for many other day-to-day activities. I recommend that you try to contact the regular classroom teacher and schedule a face-to-face meeting (health or other scheduling variables permitting). Together, the two of you should map out a one-week plan. After the first week, you will be able to continue on your own, with limited guidance. During the longer term, you should work closely with your grade partner. But remember, you’re now a long-term sub, and you will be able to put your imprint on the curriculum and the class.

How is Long-Term Subbing Different from Day-to-Day Subbing?

Being offered a long-term subbing position is an honor. You have proven that you are reliable and capable. The faculty welcomes you, and, for a time, you will have a taste of what it would be like to have your own classroom. That’s the good news.

But you’ll also have increased responsibilities. You’ll have to create your own lesson plans, and, at the same time, be certain to present all material prescribed by the curriculum for your grade level. To accomplish this, it’s essential to confer with your grade partner.

In addition to planning and classroom scheduling, you’ll also have responsibility for parental communication. If your long-term subbing assignment will span a number of months, it’s a good idea to write a note to the parents, introducing yourself and assuring them that their children’s learning will continue as normal. Before you do this, however, I suggest that you get guidance (and if necessary) permission from the principal.

On a day-to-day basis, you’ll have responsibility for writing newsletters to parents, developing personalized notes that address a specific child’s progress, and other forms of school-to-home communication. I cannot overemphasize the importance of checking spelling and grammar in all such communications. In fact, it’s a good idea to have someone else proofread any document that is to be sent home.

Every teacher has responsibility for in-school paperwork (e.g., forms, reports, lists). Be sure you understand what your responsibilities are and complete all paperwork in a timely manner. Although teaching must take priority, a lax attitude about paperwork will not serve you well when administrators and other teachers evaluate your work.

You must be aware of the special needs children in your classroom. Some students may have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). This plan will indicate any special accommodations that should be made for the child. For example, it may state that the child needs extra time when taking tests, may need a quiet place to work, or may have modifications for homework assignments.

In addition to students with IEPs, some students may have a behavior modification plan. This plan defines a strategy for modifying a student’s inappropriate or disruptive behavior. The plan often defines a series of rewards (e.g., stickers, positive note sent to parents) that are distributed throughout the day when the student meets predefined behavioral goals. For example, a student might receive a reward for good morning behavior, for good behavior during recess, for good behavior at lunch, and for good afternoon behavior. In general, the behavior modification plan may be nothing more than a white index card that is taped to a student’s desk or inserted into the child’s daily planner.

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