Being a substitute teacher, I have the luxury lets say, of not having to plan lessons the night before I go into a classroom to fill in for a teacher. This is often a good thing, as I am not normally given lesson plans or knowledge of what the students are learning until I walk into the classroom the morning when I am to be there. I miss this part sometimes though because I enjoy coming up with lesson ideas and I often think, this would also have been a good idea for a particular lesson that I see that a teacher has left for me.
I have been lucky to work in Kindergarten through Grade 8 classrooms and have seen numerous lessons in the subject areas of the curriculum. I am most comfortable with the grade 4 and grade 5 curriculums having taught them specifically during my full-time teaching position last year and during my internship. It is great to be able to see that the language skills students are learning in grade 1 are the foundations and skills that will help them in the higher grades. I can’t imagine having to learn each grade level and all of subjects in detail enough to be able to adequately plan lessons each time I would fill in for a teacher, as there is so much, and I am not a grade specific substitute.
Having said all of this, I often find myself in a classroom and with a group of students where all we are left with for the day is busy work. Assignments that the students need to finish, reading sections that need to be completed, short worksheet assignments and other similar tasks. When the students finish these assignments early, sometimes the spend most of their day reading or simply getting caught up on other work.
Some students really benefit form this extra work time, or time when they are able to ask me for assistance and support in their learning. But for other kids and sometimes the substitute teacher, this can make the day really long and boring. Or it can leaving them longing for recess, they day to be over, or even for their physical education class so that they can get up from their desks and be active.
I understand possible reasons for planning like this: you may want a lesson taught the certain way, you don’t know if the substitute teacher will have the background knowledge, there might not be enough time to complete the lesson, will the students understand, or maybe you just did not have enough time to prepare a lesson for the substitute to teach. I don’t know for sure, and these are only possible ideas I have come up with.
This is why I am happy when I am able to go into a classroom and the teacher has left me lessons where I actually get to teach! I am after all a certified teacher, I have knowledge of the curriculums and what the students are relating, if not in exact detail, then I can draw from my own knowledge or do a bit of research at recess to catch myself up on the content.
I have a few friends that I am fortunate to sub for when they are away. They give me the chance to teach. They give me the lessons and materials that I will use and I am able to read through them and teach the lessons to the kids. Sometimes I make minor adaptations if something is not working. I also provide comments for the teacher for each lesson we did that day. Not every subject I teach for them has a full lesson, sometimes it is a prompt and then a work period, and other times it is simply a work period / catch-up on assignments period. The lessons may not be taught exactly how the classroom teacher would have taught them, but they are taught. The students are learning. You are not falling days behind because you weren’t at school for a few days throughout the year.
I am still a teacher even though I don’t have my own classroom.
I am still a teacher even though I don’t plan my own lessons when I come in for you.
I am still a teacher.
I like it when there are lessons that I can teach.