Monday, November 25, 2013

Well if this doesn't make you smile....

...Then you should probably get your smile receptors checked out! Or...uh, something like that. Just watch this, already. If everyone just decided to say even just one of these things just once a day, imagine the happy that would spread! Thanks, Kid President!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Activities

Holidays are always fun in the classroom and Thanksgiving is no exception.  It’s a chance to explore different cultures and do something a little different that day. 

Crafts are great ways for a substitute to fill time if there are no lesson plans or the lesson plans are completed early and there are many thanksgiving crafts for kids. A favorite of ours involves bringing a pre-made turkey body (either out of construction paper or light foam) along with colorful construction paper cut into feathers. Have each student write what they’re thankful for on a feather. Then stick each feather into the turkey creating a colorful tail and a unified piece of art work!   You can also distribute colorful pieces of paper and have each student write a thank you note to a friend or family member.

Not only do activities like this help a substitute to keep students engaged but they make a wonderful ‘welcome back’ gift for the returning teacher!

*Please remember to keep in mind that not every school celebrates holidays in the same way.  Prior to engaging in holiday activities make sure to check and see how the holiday is handled by the school.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Progressive Learning Conference!

Expand your view of education!

At the Progressive Education Conference – Play Hard: the serious work of keeping joy in learning!

The 2013 National Conference is right here in Los Angeles, October 10-12 2013!

This is a great opportunity to find out what progressive education is all about if you don’t know and to improve your practice if you already are a believer.

The speakers (Erin Gruwell, Madeline Levine, Angela Davis, Stuart Brown, Bill Ayers, Deborah Meier, Paul Cummins, etc.) and 90 workshops (conducted by teachers from across the country) will be dynamic and galvanizing, calling for a creative re-imagining of the terms and conditions under which most students are schooled in this country.  Please go to the Progressive Education Network web site for more information.

Though educators have been challenged in agreeing upon a single definition for progressive education, consensus builds around these defining principles:

Education must prepare students for active participation in a democratic society.

Education must focus on students' social, emotional, academic, cognitive and physical development.

Education must nurture and support students' natural curiosity and innate desire to learn.

Education must foster internal motivation in students.

Education must be responsive to the developmental needs of students.

Education must foster respectful relationships between teachers and students.

Education must encourage the active participation of students in their learning, which arises from previous experience.

Progressive educators must play an active role in guiding the educational vision of our society.

Check it out and let us hear all about it!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Feature: Rita!

Meet our substitute, Rita Oliver, for this month's Tuesday Teacher Feature! When you're talking about a 'pro,' you're talking about Rita! Read on to find out why!

TOR: How long have you been substitute teaching with TOR?
CD: At least 2 1/2 years.

TOR: What do you find most rewarding about substitute teaching?
CD: I like the work I do with the students, the variety of schools and meeting new students with whom I feel I can make a difference.

TOR: What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a sub?
CD: The advice I can give is not to fear them, be respectful, be fair but 'no nonsense.'  Students want limits as to what they can and cannot do with a sub. Remember you are not their friend, you are their teacher. They will test you. 

TOR: When you're not subbing, what might we find you doing?
CD: I read, go for walks, spend time with my sister, and talk to my children and grandchildren on the phone.  I  like jazz so I may go to a jazz club with my friends.  I also have my spiritual practice that helps me to stay calm and focused.

TOR:  What is your 'go-to' classroom management trick?
CD: I like to set the tone with the students and let them know that it is in best their interest to get the work done that their teacher left for them to complete.  You don't need to be mean just firm and helpful when needed.

TOR: What do you find most rewarding about substitute teaching?
CD: It is always interesting when the students want you to be their "regular" teacher.  Two reasons they give are that I am able to control the class so they can learn and you don't mind trying to help them find the information they need to complete their assignment for the day. 

TOR: What is the most important thing you've learned as a guest teacher in different schools?
CD: Students want a teacher that is not afraid of them and is willing to help them with the work they are doing. Even if the sub is not sure but is willing to try to get them the information they need. You also must be willing to enlist the aid of the students, they like to be helpful.

TOR: Did you have a teacher that was particularly influential to you? Why?
CD: Yes, Mrs Williams, my 7th grade math teacher.  She was 'no nonsense' and saw right through my playfulness.  She put me in check in a way that allowed me to hear her. After that, I was more focused.  I watched how she interacted with the students and saw no fear.  As a teacher you must be fearless.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dear Full-time Teacher...

Seamless transition! It’s what every school expects...what every full-time teacher needs...and what every sub should strive for.

With so much to cover in the curriculum, missing one day can sometimes set a teacher back two days or even more. This is where a Super Hero substitute is essential.

One of the most effective ways to facilitate that seamless transition between sub and teacher is to leave a thorough, courteous and positive progress report at the end of the day. At Teachers On Reserve, we understand how important this communication is and we provide all of our subs with a template we call our “Welcome Back Letter." This form can be found when active substitutes log into their Teachers On Reserve profile.

It's always smart to have a few letters on hand so you are prepared to let the returning teacher know exactly where you left off and how the day progressed. They'll breathe a sigh of relief when they see that you:
  • cared enough to follow through
  • documented consequential student behavior
  • taught from the lesson plan
  • did not let chaos reign in their absence

A solid progress report can make the difference between getting on the preferred list and never being asked back.

 Here's example:

Here is an example for you here:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wait...we're 17th?!?!

The Smartest kids in the World: And how they got that way,” a new book by Journalist and Author, Amanda Ripley, begins the conversation, with PBS NewsHour, of exactly how the topped ranked education systems in the world made it to the top of the list.

It's a harsh reality to many Americans but...we're not #1. Not in education, anyway. We're 17th. Yes, you heard that right. In the rankings of First World Countries in the world, the United States is outranked by 16 other countries with Finland and South Korea leading the pack.  The instrument of measure is the PISA, designed specifically to look at your ability not to memorize knowledge, but to use it to solve problems that you have never seen other words, critical thinking.

So what can America, and subsequently, its teachers learn from our international neighbors?  It's a fascinating read and a great way for our educators to start thinking outside the box, in the classroom.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Where can I get certified in First Aid/CPR?

Though not all schools require their substitutes to be certified in First Aid and CPR, it is certainly better to be safe rather than sorry. Here are some places you can go to get or renew your certification(s) and brush up on your classroom safety tips.

The Red Cross is one of the most reliable sources on the subject and they offer classes almost everywhere. Just type in your city or zip code and it will give you a list of classes, where they are, and what they cost.

Though learning in a live classroom setting for "hands-on skills" is usually preferable, it is possible to get your online certification. There are different types of certification available. First Aid, CPR, AED for Lay Responders allows you to effectively respond to most serious safety issues that may occur in the classroom after ensuring that 911 has been called.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Five Tips That Save Lives at School

You never think about the runaway car that hits the student before the first bell of the accidental peanut-induced anaphylactic death until you hear about them in the news. Unfortunately, they happen with some frequency and consistency.

This is not said to be frightening, just a wake-up to the awesome responsibility we have as teachers in (and around) a classroom.  The schools in which we teach should have fairly elaborate emergency plans in case of fire, earthquake or a lockdown.  Since you are in a new school virtually every day it is important that you get the basics in each new environment.  Where are the "meeting places?" Where is the attendance book kept? Can you lock your door from the inside? Did the school give you a key? Do they have an emergency plan book and where is it?  What differentiates the fire from the lock-down bell?

Here are five tips for school emergencies:
-Make basic emergency prep routine
-Grab the Attendance Book!
-Ask your Sub Contact
-Review the Emergency Plan for your classroom
-Red Cross Free School Preparation

It is important for you to consider if you are in charge of a classroom of kids and there is a major earthquake, or other emergency - you can't go home.  You have a responsibility to stay with your class until you are dismissed by the person in charge.  That means your own home preparations need to be in order so that they can carry on without you.

It used to be a given that you were safe at school.  That was probably an illusion but certainly now it takes a vigilant staff to maintain a school environment where everyone can focus on learning.  be Safe and keep your children safe.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

'Why are you here?'

This month’s inspirational classroom moment is brought to you by Teachers On Reserve and our very own substitute, Keaton Rogers:

“One of the most amazing moments in my days of substitute teaching occurred when a student abruptly asked me, in the middle of class, ‘Why are you here? Why do you do this?’

In response, I said, ‘Teaching, you mean? It’s because I like it. I like being here with you guys and trying to help you out.’

The student then added, ‘You mean, you like your job?’ Apparently, it was his understanding that adults just didn’t like their jobs, no matter what.

I said, ‘Yeah! Why else would I be here?’

That student, and much of the class, seemed shocked for a moment, and then moved by my sincerity. I saw smiles all over the room. Maybe that was a feeling they were struggling with: the feeling that adults didn’t really want to be there. The rest of that class ran smoothly and I remember that whole day went smoothly.”

Substitute teaching can be extremely challenging but even more rewarding. Actually wanting to be in the classroom, whether you're only there for a day or for a whole year, is a sure-fire way to promote positivity and focus in the classroom. If students get the sense that you don’t want to be there, then why would they? Always take the time to remember why you do it.