Starting the School Year with a Substitute

No one can plan for medical emergencies or when babies are born.  Several times I have been a substitute for the first week or two of school.  This particular time, a history teacher’s wife was having their first baby.  You can’t miss that.  You’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you do. 

Substitutes at the beginning of the school year need to trudge through the deluge of returning paperwork before they can even get to the lesson plans. 

In September, especially at the high school level, there is usually a discussion about 9-11.  What I didn’t realize was that these sophomore students were only pre-schoolers at the time.  They did not understand what was going on.  Therefore, it was necessary to tweak the teacher’s lesson plan a little. 

Instead of having the students write the required essay about where they were and how they felt about 9-11, I attempted to lay out the facts through famous photographs and the personal details of my day so that students could begin to understand what actually happened.  I had the students brainstorm why they think the particular targets were chosen by Al-Qaeda; i.e., the financial system [twin towers in New York], our national defense [the Pentagon], and, of course, the leader of the United States [the White House].  After our discussions, then I had the students write their opinions about the topics discussed. 

I liked having the same subject matter for the whole day.  It gave me the chance to get better with each class period.    

For this history class, I had the opportunity to look at the 100-question citizenship test for the United States and the students and I got a chance to work together to see how much we knew.  I was surprised at how much I didn’t know.  Together we learned more about our government, the political party platforms, and what it means to be a citizen in the United States. 

This is why I enjoy substitute teaching.  It keeps me on my feet and learning. 

7 thoughts on “Starting the School Year with a Substitute”

  1. If only all substitute teachers had your passion and imagination. Thank you for caring. I worked as a teacher's aide for several years, and I found some subs most uninvolved. Sad really.

    Has your school district ever considered Virtual Author Visits with Skype? I am an author with 15 books published. My middle child had dyslexia and my youngest boy was a reluctant reader. So my books are all about a WOW factor that will HOOK kids on reading. With Skype and a web cam, I can visit anywhere in the US, and encourage kids to read and even write stories themselves.

    This is a Video of me chatting about Virtual School Visits: – I would love to hear your opinion.

    Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

  2. Margot, welcome to my Substitute Teaching blog. Thanks for stopping by. I think my imagination comes from my story writing.

    The schools I substitute for are small, and I'm not sure that they have Skype capabilities. However, your books sound exciting. I write children's short story adventures, most recently in the October issue of Cricket magazine entitled "Emerging From Darkness."

    Thanks again, Margot, for stopping by. Please visit my blog again.

  3. I don't think anyone knows everything, Michelle. I am constantly learning, and I enjoy it. If you think about it, everyone is constantly learning. I think this is a positive thing. Now, if I can only convince some of the students this…

    Thank you so much, Michelle, for reading my blog post. Please stop by again.


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