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    Best Laid Plans
    By Lainy

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    First, I agree that a substitute teacher should not alter plans left by the regular classroom teacher if it is "not" a "necessity" to do so. However, what you need to consider is that in some areas a teacher is lucky if they can even get a substitute teacher to see over their students in the event of an absence. Sub shortages are a major problem in many areas, often leaving school districts to hire non-certified individuals to work in a substitute teacher capacity . . . and thank goodness there are people willing to do this . . . in some cases.

    Second, some subs may not have had ample experience or mentoring to have established good classroom management skills and can survive "only" by altering the plans of the day. Also, even with well-developed management skills some students are overwhelming, even for the most experienced substitute, male or female. Perhaps you should read more postings from this forum that you so quickly attack.

    Also, even though you teach first grade doesn't mean that every substitute is going to be comfortable teaching some subjects. First graders can be awfully quick to correct a substitute or remind them that "that's not the way Mr./Mrs./Ms. so and so does it." This can be intimidating to newer and/or younger subs. Many substitutes need time to build confidence . . . which comes in time.

    Personally, I try to never alter a teacher's plans or replace them with my own. I have considerable experience and I work diligently at making certain all plans are followed with little or no deviation . . . and that each student is not only completing assigned work but also understanding it. I did recently alter plans ONLY because the teacher's plans were much too overwhelming for her class of 26 2nd graders. They were too young for the math lesson she wanted them to do. Plus, they were by far more interested in "playing" with the manipulatives than working on the assignment, which by the way, I knew was going to happen the very moment she instructed me how she wanted the math lesson completed. I had two alternatives, to stop the lesson completely or modify it. I chose the latter. I brought the class together and showed several examples and then called on randomly selected students to walk the other students as well as myself through the lesson. This was not only more effective but also more manageable than the teacher's plans. Oh, and she ended up agreeing with me completely . . . even with her 13 years of experience. I can see myself altering plans in cases such as explained above or if equipment isn't working, is already on loan to another teacher, or a video player eats the assigned video. There are simply times where common sense is more important than following plans to the letter.

    You may not realize it, but you're giving the impression that ALL substitutes alter plans left by the permanent teacher they are filling in for. If you are having such difficulty perhaps you should consider a few things:

    1. Are your plans reasonable?
    2. Are your plans clear and understandable to
    multiple levels of substitutes?
    3. Are your students manageable?
    4. Can you find a good substitute that you can
    request whenever you're going to be out as
    opposed to coming back and finding out that
    your plans were not followed.
    5. If this happens to you so often, maybe you
    need to re-evaluate yourself and/or your
    6. Is the substitute certified? In some
    states they are not required to be.
    However, this doesn't necessarily mean that
    they aren't capable of doing the job.
    7. Have you ever worked in a substitute
    teaching capacity?

    Oh, substitutes "are" the teacher for the day(s) that we are assigned. I have more education and experience than many of the teachers I fill in for. Some of who were hired permanently, fresh out of college, without an interview, only because they knew someone on the inside.

    We certified substitute teachers are "professionals" and often are not given the respect we are so deserving of. For example, I find it offensive when another professional in any school refers to me as "just a sub," which, yes has happened. Do you realize how demeaning it is when someone says, "Oh, she's only a sub?" You want to choke the person, but you know you can't.

    In conclusion, I empathize with you concerning this problem you've been experiencing with substitutes. If I had my own classroom I would prefer to not have my plans altered "if" the substitute has no "logical reason" to do so. However, you need to understand that it is simply unavoidable at times. Try to find someone you can begin to request, if your principal permits requests, some don't.

    I do know that it can take a lot of time preparing for a substitute. It's unfortunate when it was all a waste of time and you could have spent that time doing something else, just remember not all substitutes are going to walk in and flush the plans down the toilet, so to speak.


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