Inspired by a friend who had to be absent the week before finals because her husband had to have emergency surgery, I put together my best sub plans advice.
I am a sub plan master Ninja. The last semester I taught, in an 18 week period, there were only two weeks I was there all five days. When I was on a five day streak the principal told me the students were probably wondering “when this sub was going to leave.” My principal’s got jokes. Additionally, I never had a sub who spoke any French, so everything had to be independent.
We don’t want to be absent, but it happens. Your kids get sick. You get sick. You go to the hospital because you have a headache and the next thing you know you’re having a spinal tap and are transferred to the regional hospital because they think you have a brain bleed, but it’s really just a headache and you’re out the whole week. (That only happened once.) My point is stuff happens, but you can start getting ready now for when you have to be gone.
Four things to do now to prepare for a sub:
- Learn to screencast. A simple option is the Chrome extension Screencastify. It uploads automatically to your Google Drive and you can share with students easily through Google Classroom and thereby bypass filter and network issues. Create your slides and talk students through what you want them to do. Narrate. Teach. Tell them to push pause and do something on a piece of paper. Students can watch at their leisure or as a whole class. Very hard for a student to say they didn’t understand what to do if you’re telling them in a video. Practice students experiencing your screencasting skills on a day when you are there. Maybe a day when you’re going to go over an IPA. Maybe a day when students are in and out registering for classes. Maybe a day when you want half of them to do one thing and half of them to do another. Most importantly, have students practice before you are gone. A bonus is once you’ve learned to screencast, you can screencast your stories and lessons for students who were absent.
- Learn to EdPuzzle. EdPuzzle allows you to take videos and ask questions with them. Multiple choice, short answer. You import the video and then make the questions. You can even choose from videos that already have questions added. EdPuzzle connects to your Google Classroom and you get a report of the answers students go right or wrong. Take your screencast from #1 and add questions to it. Most importantly, have students practice EdPuzzle before you are gone.
- Learn to Recap. I’m sold on Recap. Recap allows students to record video of themselves responding to a prompt. You get to choose how long their response can be. I used it this year when I was at ACTFL- I had students respond to two prompts and I left them feedback sitting in the exhibitor hall. You can record a video for students to watch, but I found that a bit glitchy still. If students don’t want to video themselves, tell them to cover up their video camera and it will just record their voice. Most importantly, have them practice with this before you are gone.
- Put everything in Google Classroom. I would argue that whatever students do should be in Google Classroom, so that you have a record of what they do. A few years ago I was out a few days, but had planned “work days” for students to work on their Francophone Country reports. The day before the report was due a mom called me saying her daughter was worried because she didn’t have Internet at home. When I checked the revision history I could see that while she was present those days there had been zero revisions to her slides. When I told mom this she said, “She’ll have it done tomorrow.” Having students do work here can keep them accountable. Plus, you only need to pop in remotely on a couple of students’ work in order to remind the whole class that you are checking up on them.
- Most importantly, avoid giving students a new assignment with new technology when you’re gone. That’s a terrible, no good, very bad idea and that’s the experience talking.