Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So what's the plan, Sub?

There are some days that I just love subbing. I would rather I had my own classroom, to be sure, but subbing is a lot of fun compared to grad school or staying home and doing laundry or even sometimes compared to teaching music to a new set of kids every half hour. When I sub, I get my own class, even if it is only for the day.

One of the craziest things about subbing though is following someone else's sub plans. The plans I am given almost always dictates the kind of day I'm going to have.

Sometimes teachers leave an entire binder of sub materials. They put in the school's disaster plan, their management plan, a class list, a seating chart (outdated), fire drill plans, emergency numbers, sponge activities, school directories, and a school map.

Sometimes teachers leave you with stacks of papers with sticky notes on them detailing what you're supposed to do with each stack. Then it's up to you to make sure you use all of them in the right order with the right kids.

Sometimes teachers leave you teacher manuals with sticky notes (teachers lover sticky notes) on the pages you need.

Sometimes teachers write a schedule on the whiteboard and hope you get the idea.

Sometimes you get really detailed plans. "Pick up the kids at the line. Let the line leader lead the line. Walk them back to the classroom. The children should sit down at their desks. Take attendance by calling their names. Ask who is having hot lunch and write the total in the hot lunch box in the upper right corner of the attendance sheet". When I get the detailed plans, I think "oh crap, this teacher is really crazy". I do every thing my own way then leave a note telling her I did everything her way. I make sure to use lined paper so my handwriting looks neater than it really is.

Sometimes I get really sparse plans. "8:30 Math pg 170 kids know it" When I get the sparse plans, I think "oh crap, this teacher doesn't give a hoot". I do everything my way and then leave a relatively sparse note. I love sparse plans actually because I always end up making up lessons and never feeling bad about it. Math pg 170 was never so awesome as when I taught it without a sub plan. The teacher doesn't need to know that I taught the kids a silly song to remember their times tables or that we tried to split 3 paper sandwiches between 5 people.

On a recent day of subbing, when I arrived at 7:45am, the office wasn't quite sure which room I should go to, despite the fact that I had a name and grade level given to me by the sub coordinator. In the end they figured it out. I got the key and headed over.

Once I got there, the sub plans were no where to be found. This is not unusual though. Sub plans, though often put somewhere logical to the teacher, can be tricky to find. They could be hidden in a tray on the desk with a tiny label saying "guest teacher". Sometimes they are under several papers that the teacher set down on top of the plans without realizing it on his way out. Occasionally they are taped to the whiteboard in the back of the room. Once I found them inside the attendance folder, which I didn't open until I went to take attendance.

So there I was, in this particular room (that the office sent me to!) riffling through everything trying to find the sub plans. One cannot be shy when looking for such things. The phone rang though and it turns out I was supposed to go to Mrs. Next Door. Well shoot. Good thing no one found me ransacking the room!

Now, the plans for Mrs. Next Door were at least in plain sight. Her plans were of the sparse variety. For social studies, it said "9:30 Greek Myths". I looked around for any obviously piled worksheet packets on Greek Myths, any prepped materials, any text books with pages marked or in progress projects that needed finishing. All I found were tons of paint and art supplies on the back counter. Visions of making pipe cleaner Medusas and glitter lightening bolt Zeuses flew through my brain as I tried to remember what I could about Greek myths. I also was starting to calculate in to see if I had time to run to the school library to check out some books. Think of the possibilities!!!

But sadly I found the books and packets meant for the myths laid out neatly on a hidden shelf before I could get too excited about my myth lesson. I also sadly found the packets for math, and the terrible book we were supposed to read in language arts. Ugh. Why did I look so hard.

So my day went as planned, by someone else. We did boring packets that were total time wasters, read a terrible book I would have never chosen, and wasted time doing other mundane sub lessons.

I really wish I had never found those packets. Or that I had been able to stay in the first room I went to. Mrs. Next Door with her sparse plans and lame-o packets was not my idea of how I wanted to spend my degree.

Other days that I sub I get to do wonderful things like read aloud on Dr. Seuss Day. Sometimes you're awesome, and other times you get a really harsh reminder that you are, after all, just a substitute teacher.

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