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.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Seriously? Did you just try to "high five" the principal?!

My Mom always said, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Cliché? Yes, but Mom is always right.

When a school secretary lays eyes on you as a substitute teacher, for the first time, she or he usually has about 5 seconds to size you up. There are three main categories they can put you in:
  1. Good sub. (Phew! Now I can worry about other stuff.)
  2. Potential flake. (Ask principal to check in frequently.)
  3. Definite flake. (Send this one home now!)
Just to be clear, you want to make it into category #1. In that first moment, they need to feel confident that they can leave their students under your supervision and that you will be able to successfully lead those students through their lessons and through their day.

As covered in our blog post earlier in the week, adhering to the school dress code is an important way to make the right impression. It shows that you respect their environment and take your job seriously.

Making that good impression works for every single person you meet! Everyone, from parents to janitors to principals, is a part of the environment of that school and every one of them deserves respect and the best, most professional version of you! Make eye contact, be polite, listen and be respectful. These are just a few of the ways that one can make a good first impression.  A positive impression is the first step to getting on that school’s preferred or requested teacher list and the first step in getting more work for you!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

You’re going to Wear that!?

In honor of last week’s New York Fashion Week, TOR brings you a little fashion show of its own. Every school has its own set of expectations for teacher dress, and a smart sub is always aware, respectful and "on trend" for that school.

The male sub who wore lady pants, published in The Huffington Post, may have been more interested in stirring up controversy than delivering instruction. We support the concept dressing to send a message...but the only truly viable message is: "I'm the professional in charge of learning today."

Ladies: Shoes no higher than a "kitten heel" and make "the lawyer's choice" (a closed toe). Flats are always best. You never know how much walking (or running after students) will be required. Keep jewelry to a minimum and save the bangles for next weekend.

Gents: Keep a tie that "goes with everything" in your bag.  And remember no hats in the classroom.

Here's our lovely and talented dispatcher, Ritu, who has graciously agreed to catwalk a few examples of appropriate and not-so-appropriate attire for substitutes.

Casual: A nice pair of jeans with a casual (yet conservative) top is fine at a school with this dress code.

Casual Professional (most common): Jeans are not appropriate. Stick with a nice pair of khakis or slacks and a casual (yet conservative) top or shirt.

Business Professional: Men, wear a button up shirt and slacks. We advise bringing a tie and blazer, to avoid being under-dressed. Women, a sharp pair of slacks and a button down top. Bring a blazer as well, should you find the environment requires it. The blazer can be hung on your chair if it isn't necessary.

Religious Schools: Here, there's a religious affiliation that influences dress code. Certain schools we work with require business professional for men and, for women, a skirt or dress below the knee and a top that covers the elbows and collar bone. Religious jewelry? Be smart and considerate.

Physical Education Assignments: These allow you to forgo business attire and opt for athletic clothes or "coach's attire" BUT stay conservative and clean. In addition, some religious schools still require women to wear a skirt OVER their athletic attire.

Have at least one version of each of these outfits on hand so that you won’t have to go spelunking in your closet on "the morning of."

Whatever the dress code, you should always strive to look sharp. When in doubt, err on the conservative side. Avoid logos or words on your clothing and excessive body piercings.  Are your clothes wrinkled or stained? Then do what your Mama taught you...or pay someone else to. "It's laundry day" is no excuse.  Whatever you wear make sure it is in good repair (no holes, no buttons missing) and of course make sure zippers are zipped and there are no wardrobe malfunctions!

Showing up in the proper dress makes that all-important first impression on a school. It is less about looking "fierce" and more about proving that you are a professional.

For good measure, we’ve also provided you with an idea of what NOT to wear. Try not to color-block yourself out of a job.

Your friendly neighborhood dispatcher should share info on dress codes for each school when you're booked on an assignment so you can take your outfit from zero to hero. Be sure to take note so that there is never a situation for which you arrive unprepared. 

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