Substitute Teaching:  the Possibilities

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley
Substitute teaching is a more significant subject than it used to be
because substitute teachers are called upon more than ever to pinch hit for the regularly employed teachers. This is an era when teacher
contracts give more "personal" leave days than ever before, teachers are attending more local, regional and national conferences, and the stress of today's classroom lures many classroom teachers (especially on Fridays and Mondays in the spring) to call in sick for an unofficial "mental health" day.

In these late 20th-century times our students are discussed nationally and internationally for their lax study habits, bored attitudes and oft
tempestuous behavior. These very problems that help create teacher
stress also make the job of the substitute teacher more difficult than
ever before.

Today obnoxious behavior on the part of students is all too often left up to the individual teacher to deal with unless it was really, really
rotten. Fortunately the paddle has little place in today's education,
but lucky the teacher, whether substitute or regular, whose school has an effective and coherent manner in which to deal with serious
discipline problems.

FLTEACH has had some two hundred messages on the subject of substitute teaching. (Feb 1994-Feb 1999) Many of these involve foreign language, but even more apply to any subject matter: How do you get substitute teachers into the classroom? How do you get them to follow your lesson plans? How do you ensure that your students cooperate with this stranger? And so on.

Two of the longest days I've ever experienced in the classroom were
spent as a substitute teacher. The kids weren't all that bad although
that certainly does happen on (frequent?) occasion, but I strongly
suspect that I was terrible compared to what I really could have been. The kids didn't know what to expect, I wasn't well-informed by either the absent teacher or the administration, and I hadn't really prepared myself for the job I was undertaking. Strikes 1! 2! 3! Everybody lost here.

A. Why is There a Shortage of Substitute Teachers?
B. Advice For Substitute Teachers
C. What FL Teachers Want From a Substitute
D. What Substitutes Need From FL Teachers!!!
E. Qualifications or Training For Substitute Teachers
F. Heroes Do Exist, But They’re Rare
G. Stories That Turn Teachers Gray
H. Substitute Teaching In Other Countries
I. Subbing in an Unknown Language
J. Materials for the Substitute Teacher
K. Preparing Your Class for a Substitute
L. Emergency Lesson Plans for Subs
M. Real Life and Long-Term Substituting
N. How Substitute Teachers Are Regarded
O. Sub Help on the Web
P. My Plan For Substitute Teachers

A. Why is There a Shortage of Substitute Teachers?

There seem to be four main reasons why there is a shortage of qualified
substitute teachers nearly everywhere:

1) A few districts set very high qualifications such as a college degree
with a 3.0 GPA. Most districts that would like to do this have backed
off to lure more people into substituting. In fact, some school
districts will apparently hire you to substitute when you have as few
as18 college hours under your belt. Would you want to substitute
alongside college sophs (some of whom might be great, but there is
something of a professional principle involved here, I hope)?

2) So often substitute teachers have an extremely difficult day. Kids
take advantage of the situation; the administration is neither attentive
nor particularly supportive. Those hurt, but we teachers who leave
inadequate instructions (including seating charts) take the cake!

3) Few boards of education seem willing to pay substitute teachers as
much as one-half the daily rate of a first year teacher. Figures sent in
ranged from $35/day to $110/day and, of course, no benefits. The wide
variation seems to correspond to a combination of state local economic
prosperity level as well as local appreciation of education.

4) Quite a number of districts were heard from where the local teachers'
association is considered virtually helpless. Usually this indicates
that education in general and teachers in particular are held in low
esteem. If a potential substitute has a choice among districts, such a
district would be shunned by many just as you would not want to
substitute regularly in a particular school where the principal does not
handle discipline adequately.

What can be done? There were suggestions and hints throughout the

1) In some districts the local teachers' association (union) includes
substitutes in their bargaining. This allows substitutes to use the same
grievance procedures as well as to receive somewhat higher pay.
Rejuvenation of the teacher organization (whether it be local, regional
or state) is called for, where it has flagged.

2) Make a good case to your school board that student education gets hurt
when there are not enough qualified substitute teachers to go around.
Get your local association to work with the school board to set
realistic qualifications for substitute teachers. (Be sure teacher
volunteers are available to help your association representatives in
this work. Don't forget they teach, too. The burden must be shared.)

3) Work with your school administration to bring (and keep) all your
teachers up to snuff on being prepared for substitute teachers.
Elsewhere in this FAQ you will find reference about preparing your
students for this situation. I hope you will find this concept as
interesting as I did. In addition, although the substitutes perform an
important service, they, too, should be held to certain

4) Bob Ponterio brought this up (from France, yet):  Wherever you have a
system that won't hire substitute teachers from outside, get your
administrators involved in substitute teaching whether it be for whole
days or, more feasibly, the occasional one or two period teacher
absence! A few already do (for whatever reason -- board policy, personal
involvement, etc.) Lest I be accused of being anti-administration and a
dreamer to boot, I should mention here that teachers may not find this
to be as impossible as they are inclined to think. There may be ways
that teachers can work to make the life of an administrator easier as a

Just a few of the results of the substitute teacher shortage as well as
the willful refusal to hire substitute teachers are:

1) Your students frequently experience classes with 40 or more students.

2) Those school boards who do pay regular teachers by the hour for any
substituting actually spend more money for this than if substitute
teachers were hired. Some boards seem to reason that they pay teachers
so little, any teacher will be eager to take on another class for $15 or
$20. In fact, most would rather pass up the money for the sake of the
planning period.

3) Your regular teaching staff is required to face the additional stress
of super-large classes and/or trying to cope with unfamiliar students
whose academic study is outside their expertise.
And that’s in addition to coping with a teacher’s regular five or six
periods of teaching.

4) Both student and teacher morale and energy levels are sapped in
situations where there is no routine arrangement for outside teachers to
take over in the instances of teacher absence. In addition, student
respect for the entire educational system and process is weakened.

B. Advice For Substitute Teachers

Each of our first two letters refers to taking on substitute teaching
assignments as a strategy for getting a full-time position.

95/12 -->From: Kristin Kernkamp <>

Dear FLTeachers:

I recently finished a teaching internship and will have a few months
here before "hopefully" finding a teaching job next fall. I will most
likely get on some subbing lists, so I just thought I would ask if
anyone has some subbing advice for me? Eg. classroom management, etc. Any
comments would be helpful.

Kristin Kernkamp


95/12--> From: Deborah Bruhn <>

I subbed for two years before I returned to work full time, and I really
enjoyed it. I was the only one in the school who knew ALL the students,
since I was the only one who had all of them. One thing that is
essential if you're going to be an effective sub; DEMAND an accurate
seating chart or AT LEAST an accurate class list. There's nothing worse
than having the students know who you are, but you don't have a clue who
they are. Dress professionally; wear a suit or at least a skirt and
jacket. The less you look like a student the better control you will
have in the classroom.

If the teacher has sent in sub plans, DO THEM. Expect that papers will
be handed in before the end of the period (even if the classroom teacher
didn't expressly ask for that) and stay on your feet and cruise the room
to keep the students on task. No one will work if you're seated at your

If you're new to a school and the teacher has not submitted plans for
the class in his/her absence, I might think twice about taking the job.
If you know the school and the kids, having "free time" (they call it
"study hall") is not so bad. I subbed full time for two years, got to
know the kids, thoroughly enjoyed myself, had good classroom control,
and slipped easily into a regular teaching position when one opened up.
I hope it works out well for you, too.

Deborah Bruhn


98/03 -->  From: trisha d haines <>
Subject: Re: Substitute teaching

Dear FL Teachers,

I am a Spanish Education major and I will be doing my student teaching
this fall. I have decided to substitute teach this semester to bring in
some money and get some experience in front of the students. Do have any
wonderful advice for me. My first day is Thursday. Luckily, I am subbing
for a Spanish teacher I spent 60 hours of Practicum with last semester.

Is there anything that works wonders for subs? What do teachers like to
see or not see a sub do? What I am learning in class is what the
classroom teacher is to do. I know MOST students don't think subs know
what they are doing, don't respect them, etc... Please tell me anything
that you think will help me. Thanks all you wonderful FLTEACHERS,

Trish Haines


98/03 -->  From: MaggieH105 <>
Subject: Re: Substitute teaching

>What do teachers like to see or not see a sub do?

I know that some teachers leave better plans than others, but wherever
possible, just *follow the plans!*

My biggest nightmare was if a sub decided to "do something fun" instead
of what I carefully planned for each class to do, usually in an effort
to win the affection of the kids.

That doesn't mean you have to be a robot: plans can still be carried out
better by someone who knows and cares about what they're doing (as in
your case) than by someone who has never had a day of instruction in the
language (as is often the case!)

Best wishes! You are going into it with a great attitude!

Nancy Hudson


98/03 -->  From: Ann Pulley <>
Subject: Re: Substitute teaching

>>What do teachers like to see or not see a sub do?

>I know that some teachers leave better plans than others, but wherever
possible, just *follow the plans!*

A hearty vote of agreement to Nancy's advice. If you are not certain
what the teacher meant for you to do----ask a co-worker. They can
usually give advice on how things are or are not done.

Don't ask the kids! Also, write down the names of the absentees...and a
short note explaining what you did or did not do.

Buena suerte!
Ann Pulley


98/03 -->  From: SRDSHELLY <>
Subject: Re: Substitute teaching

The main thing is to follow the plans.

Last week I had a substitute, and the lesson plan was simple, "The
students will write essays the entire period." So at the start of the
period, the substitute got up, went into a long explanation of his
discipline policy, related his life story and began telling jokes. After
about 10 minutes of this, one of the students finally raised her hand
and said, "Excuse me, but we're supposed to be writing essays. Could we
have the topics and get started?" Needless to say, I'll be requesting a
different sub next time.

Dave Shelly


98/03 -->  From: Jennie Clifton <>
Subject: Re: Substitute teaching

I used to substitute some and occasionally I wound up in a class where
no lesson plan had been left (or not much of one)! After one day of that
I always went prepared.

I began carrying a current "National Enquirer" or "Globe" or some kind
of sensational, hard-to-believe "newspaper". I selected articles which I
would read to students or let them read. They would have to write a
response defending why it was true / not true. Then we'd discuss their
opinions, in groups at first, then the whole class.

Once, in an English class, I pretended to be the President of the U.S.
and let the class "be" the White House press corps at a press
conference. After the "interview" they had to write an article about the
press conference. When students are actively involved they don't have
time to become major behavior problems.

As someone else wrote, keep good notes for the regular teacher and be
sure to let him/her know what was accomplished. I always appreciate my
sub following the plan I have left.

Jennie Clifton


98/03 -->  From: BKlem58263 <>
Subject: Re: Substitute teaching

<< One thing that I always put on the instructions for the sub is to
keep the kids in the room. >>

I learned recently that I had to add something to the basic sub folder
on my desk when I was out with a sudden ear infection for a day. I came
back to joyous kids who were allowed to watch MTV for all or part of the
hour. We recently had TV's installed in our rooms and some of the kids
knew they were hooked up to cable. They were happy; I was not. At least
they could have watched the news or one of many cultural videos that are
out in the open once the sub decided the lesson was not do-able. (though
I question that) So now I have instructions, NO MTV PLEASE. Of course I
know the kids watch it but it's not necessary in my classroom. I
mentioned this to the secretary who schedules the subs and she thought I
was being ridiculous. So be it. Another lesson learned.

Liz Klem

C. What FL Teachers Want From a Substitute

96/03 -->  From: "Barbara S. Andrews" <>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Substituting in other languages..

In our school district, we have problems finding substitute teachers.
PERIOD. In the eleven years I have taught here, I can say that I have
NEVER had a substitute teacher who was certified to teach the language
my students were learning. Occasionally, I have had someone who had
studied the language a little in high school, but that didn't help a
whole lot. It's not the ideal situation, but if the qualified language
teachers get full-time jobs, why would they want to substitute?

>When someone substitutes for me, I ask mostly that they maintain classroom
control and follow the directions I have left them. If they do that, I feel that
they have done their job. If they are imaginative enough to fill in with an
activity such as the one I have described above to fill in the time left AFTER
doing the sub plans I have left, then I would consider them a great substitute

>What bothers me when I have a sub is someone who ignores my
instructions -- for example, one sub I had permitted the kids to chew gum
and eat candy in class, despite my specific directions that they not be allowed
to do so.  A good short term sub can follow directions.

>Long term subs SHOULD be certified in the language. Any good long
term sub will probably end up getting snapped up by a school system, though.

AMEN! I usually save the videos and paperwork until the end of each unit
in case of illness, since that is something any substitute can handle.
Of course, the best solution is not to get sick at all, or to come in
anyway, anxiously clutching a Kleenex box and aspirin bottle. In this
situation, I'm not the most animated teacher, but at least I am there to
make sure my students are involved in meaningful activities.

To be quite honest, I dread even thinking about the possibility of being
out sick for a lengthy period. During a teacher's maternity leave, for
example, the school hires a qualified substitute. However, those that I
have seen have NOT been very good teachers (why else don't they have a
full-time job?)...and it was the students who suffered the most. I'm
sure there are some excellent FL teachers out there looking for jobs,
but we haven't run across any in our school district.

Barbara S. Andrews


99/01 -->  From: Cynthia <>
Subject: Substitutes

I am curious as to why teachers have such a negative attitude about
substitute teachers. They are providing a service to you when you cannot
be there so why are they regarded with such disdain? In my district to
qualify to be a substitute you must have a bachelor's degree and 18
hours of credit in education. A person who can reach at least that level
of education can't be a total idiot. So, what's the deal?

Cynthia Abraham


99/01 -->  From: "Amy Beaupre, North Central High School" <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

The negative attitude toward substitutes comes largely from a
substitutes own behavior. Speaking for myself and other teachers I work
with it is much more work to be absent than to be here due to the amount
of effort required to get things ready for a sub. Since chances are slim
to none that I will get a substitute who has a clue about Spanish, I put
considerable effort into finding things that are relevant, require the
use of at least some brain cell, but yet can be accomplished without
help from the substitutes. Therefore, it is extremely aggravating to
return and find out that the sub did not follow the extensive lesson
plans left for them.

Most of my subs this year have been good, even though they can't
actually "teach" my class due to the lack of knowledge in my subject.
However, I have seen a great many substitutes who have never held down a
full time teaching job. After hearing from my students and other
teachers what happened when I was gone - its quite understandable why
these people can't get a teaching job. We have had subs who allowed (and
encouraged) students to break into teachers cabinets and closets, shared
teachers snacks (kept in desk) with students, bought pop from the
teachers lounge for all of the students (after being repeatedly told not
to do this), engaged in a spitwad fight with the students and . . .
well, you get my point.

The fact that someone has a university degree does NOT in any way,
shape, or form make a person qualified to teach (or sub), or from some
people I know, even mean that they are that intelligent.

On the realistic side though, if you were well qualified to teach and
good at it, why would you even want to be paid $50/day (in our
district), not knowing from day to day if you would get to sub 5 days
this week or not at all. When I graduated from college I subbed for a
maternity leave and then tried to get on a sub list. After two weeks of
not getting any calls to sub (this with an alleged substitute shortage),
I decided I needed to be able to pay my bills.

I hope everyone understand that I am not slamming on substitute
teachers. I have seen many great subs. I also don't envy them. I would
never again choose to willingly substitute if I had any other job
available. Those that sub and sub well deserve as much applause as all
hard working "regular" teachers.

Amy Beaupre


99/01 -->  From: Robert Ponterio <PONTERIOR@SNYCORVA.CORTLAND.EDU>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>I am curious as to why teachers have such a negative attitude about
substitute teachers. They are providing a service to you when you cannot be
there so why are they regarded with such disdain? In my district to qualify
to be a substitute you must have a bachelor's degree and 18 hours of credit
in education. A person who can reach at least that level of education can't
be a total idiot. So, what's the deal?

I think that in general it is not really that teachers have a negative
attitude towards substitutes, who, after all, are also teachers, but
they do wish that it could be possible to get a substitute with training
in the discipline. I am certain that substitutes also prefer to
substitute in their discipline. My wife, a French teacher, used to hate
substituting in math or PE.

Bob Ponterio


99/01 -->  From: "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>I am curious as to why teachers have such a negative attitude about
substitute teachers. They are providing a service to you when you cannot
be there so why are they regarded with such disdain? In my district to qualify
to be a substitute you must have a bachelor's degree and 18 hours of credit
in education. A person who can reach at least that level of education can't
be a total idiot. So, what's the deal?

This may be true in your district, but in many places it's just a warm
body (and we've had moments when we questioned that). I believe the
major problem for us as second language teachers is the fact that
substitutes who actually know the languages we teach are few and far
between in many areas, and so it becomes more of a crowd-control and
busywork type situation than a learning one. What is REALLY aggravating
is when one spends hours creating lesson plans for any eventuality, only
to return and find that the sub didn't do anything you asked them to do,
but decided to go off on his/her own tack.

Marilyn Barrueta


99/01 -->  From: Robert Ponterio <PONTERIOR@SNYCORVA.CORTLAND.EDU>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>This may be true in your district, but in many places it's just a warm
body (and we've had moments when we questioned that). I believe the
major problem for us as second language teachers is the fact that substitutes
who actually know the languages we teach are few and far between in many
areas, and so it becomes more of a crowd-control and busywork type situation
than a learning one. What is REALLY aggravating is when one spends hours
creating lesson plans for any eventuality, only to return and find th

Shouldn't it be up to the administration that hires the substitute to
make such expectations clear and to follow-up? Is the problem simply
that subs are so hard to find that the admin. re-hires problem cases in
spite of the problems? I remember some great substitute teachers from
when I was in HS. I guess I was lucky. I wonder if many teachers tend to
think more about the problem subs than about the ones who do their jobs

Bob Ponterio


99/01 -->  From: "Amy Beaupre, North Central High School" <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

Indeed administrators do re-hire problems because of the lack of subs,
or their own inability or unwillingness to spend the time to find good
subs. Last year, we as a staff complained NUMEROUS times about a
particular sub and his antics, only to see him rehired again and again.
Even after this particular sub was brought up in a liaison committee
meeting (staff, principals, superintendent) and we thought that it was
understood that the man would never darken our doors again, he was back.
We even told the principal that we felt most of our students would
behave better without a sub, with a lengthy assignment and with someone
checking in on them periodically. When the kids heard this man was
subbing, you should have seen the high fives and seen them talk about
what they were going to get him to let them do. Thank goodness we have
not seen him this year! ( However, critical sub shortage time is coming
up, so its too early to celebrate.)

Amy Beaupre


99/01 -->  From: Ronald Takalo <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

Well, I feel compelled to tell the other side of the story. I
volunteered to sub in a near by school in May when I had finished
teaching my college courses.* I was hired to teach English, which I felt
qualified for since one of my undergraduate majors was English, and I
had taught English on the high school level for many years prior to
accepting a college job.

Now, I know that many of you leave good plans, admonish your students to
behave, etc. But I was given very little to do and what there was was
not clear to me and certainly not the type of lesson plans designed to
keep a class busy or interested. The class knew that they could probably
pull all kinds of stunts and ask to get out of class for a myriad of
reasons, some of which were probably valid, and others probably not, but
how was I to know?

So some suggestions:

1. Let the sub know what is an acceptable reason to leave class

2. Let them know what your bathroom leave policy is

3. Leave work that the students will be responsible for, as in getting a
grade. Busy work that will be pitched does not work.

4. Let the students know that the sub will write down all suspected
deviations of behavior down, and that you will deal with it (and follow

5. Make sure that enough materials are available, and maybe some extra
activities in case the students finish early, as well as pencils, pens,
etc. so students can not use that as an excuse.

6. Remember that students often try to take advantage of subs,
especially new ones, and often act differently for the sub than they
would for you (remember the parent that says "my kid wouldn't do that!")

7. Thank the sub in advance and maybe write them a note when a good job
is done.

Ron Takalo
Associate Professor of Spanish and ocassional sub

* P.S. The reason I subbed was in response to requirements that all
methods teachers (such as myself) spend a certain amount of time in the
K-12 classroom so we don't forget what it is like as we teach those
college students going into teaching.


99/01 -->  From: Pam Green <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>I am curious as to why teachers have such a negative attitude about
substitute teachers. They are providing a service to you when you cannot
be there so why are they regarded with such disdain? In my district to qualify
to be a substitute you must have a bachelor's degree and 18 hours of credit
in education. A person who can reach at least that level of education can't
be a total idiot. So, what's the deal?

I don't regard substitutes with disdain, but I do know that an excellent
substitute is a prize to treasure! Because of that, I try to "spoil"
them whenever I can!

In our district I believe that the only qualification for substituting
is to have finished two years of college. We do have some excellent
substitutes, and they are booked weeks in advance! Those are the ones
you can count on to follow your lesson plan to the letter, and you're
grateful that you can pick up at exactly the right place when you
return. A retired Spanish teacher subbed for me for four weeks while I
recovered from back surgery. She did her own lesson plans and graded
papers for me! What a lifesaver she was. On the other hand, there are
some substitutes who don't follow your lesson plans, and you lose an
additional day when you get back trying to put all the pieces back
together again.

If you're preparing to be a Spanish teacher and are subbing in the
meantime, your excellent reputation will spread quickly and you will be
respected. This won't hurt when job hunting, either!

Pam Green


99/01 -->  From: "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

According to Robert Ponterio:

>>This may be true in your district, but in many places it's just a warm
body (and we've had moments when we questioned that). I believe the
major problem for us as second language teachers is the fact that substitutes
who actually know the languages we teach are few and far between in many
areas, and so it becomes more of a crowd-control and busywork type situation
than a learning one. What is REALLY aggravating is when one spends hours
creating lesson plans for any eventuality, only to return and find t

>Shouldn't it be up to the administration that hires the substitute to make such
expectations clear and to follow-up?

Which administration? Subs are processed through a county-wide system;
our administrators have no say in putting them on the sub list. Some
people have favorite subs that they always try to get, but sometimes you
can't, and you simply get whoever the guy running the system calls and
finds out of bed! If a sub is good, our main office secretaries pass the
word around, and other people try to request them -- but if they're not
available, you get anyone.

Is the problem simply
>that subs are so hard to find that the admin. re-hires problem cases in spite
of the problems?

I'm not sure "re-hires" is apropos -- people fill out forms to sub, and
are then put on a list. If we have the home phone of a particularly sub,
we can request them by putting in that phone number (this is an
automated system, known as "STAN"); if we don't have a number, the luck
of the draw. I don't know whether anyone is ever taken off the list
short of moving or death.

Marilyn Barrueta

D. What Substitutes Need From FL Teachers!!!

99/01 -->  From: Kristy Placido <>
Subject: Subbing Nightmare

Just after finishing my teaching internship and about two months before
landing a job, I took a subbing job for a couple of days at a local high
school. I knew the teacher and many of the kids and had a pretty decent

The next subbing job I took was horrible! It was at the middle school in
the same district. The Spanish teacher left me no lesson plan (not even
a video!!) and to make matters worse, it was the 2nd to last day of
school!!!!!!! How could I have been so dumb? The kids were wild, trying
to put their fingers in the fan, hitting each other, dumping tables on
top of one another, etc... When the sub caller called to ask if i could
sub again the next day, I nearly laughed at her! To make the situation
even funnier (in hindsight)

I had a job interview two days later for the very position I was subbing
in. I did not get the job (maybe they could sense some bad vibes...).
Now that I have my own classroom at another local high school, I try to
go out of my way to make the sub's job easier. I have even had subs
leave me thank you notes for leaving such detailed lesson plans! I don't
think my lesson plans are that exceptional, so it just goes to show how
lacking some teachers lesson plans must be.

Another plus to leaving good lesson plans: Once you find a good sub,
they will turn down other jobs in order to sub for you!!! I found a
really good sub this year who doesn't know much Spanish, but he follows
my lesson plans, leaves me detailed notes on his day, and hasn't had any
trouble controlling the class. There's nothing worse than coming back
from an absence and having to write out multiple detentions!

Kristy Placido


97/02 -->  From: Richard Lee <>
Subject: Re: Inquiry - FL substitute teacher

Generally in our system (and I would guess in many) you get what you
get. The chances are less than good that the sub will know the language.
I think in most communities it isn't realistic to expect a person
certified in the FL to be waiting in the wings to replace one of 6 or 8
Spanish teachers that might be absent on a particular day. Subs are
generally assigned on a first come basis by the voice mail system on the

I am sure that they try to make a match when they can (more practical in
subjects with larger departments) but it's not something to count on. I
think that this emphasizes the importance of preparing good lesson plans
for the sub which the students can do with little guidance. I think that
the subs probably have the toughest job in the business and if they get
the absence list correct and maintain reasonable order in the room, they
have accomplished a lot. We are in a college town and often it is
difficult to find sufficient subs. I can imagine what it is like in
smaller communities.

Richard Lee


98/11 -->  From:
Subject: Re: sub shortage suggestions

>Perhaps part of the problem right now is simply that we (or someone)
has allowed the profession to become less attractive. Maybe an overall
improvement in working conditions would help attract more new teachers.

As usual, Bob has hit the nail on the head. Too few people want to
consider teaching as a profession, let alone resort to "substitute"
teaching. We also have a regional substitute service. Many of the subs
in the district where I teach report that they refuse assignments to sub
in the school district where I live because there is little if any
administrative support with discipline problems and the kids know this.

We're lucky here in NY, because we have fairly strong union contracts.
However, in my district, even though we don't offer the highest pay per
diem, we've been able to keep our classes covered.

1. Classroom teachers must have emergency sub plans on file in the

2. Teachers are expected to leave plans which are coherent to a sub who
is not certified or expert on your area. I have only had one sub who had
a knowledge in Spanish in 12 years.

3. Substitutes are given great support both by classroom teachers and by
administration for discipline problems. Neighboring teachers "keep their
eyes and ears open" to help intervene and back up a sub.

4. We allow anybody with at least a two-year degree to substitute. We no
longer have a surfeit of certified teachers who are willing to accept
sub assignments, so we have "settled" with broadening the scope to
qualify other adults. Our BOE approves all sub applications before they
are added to the list. Around holiday times and after colleges let out
in the spring, we even get some recent graduates in to sub, which is
always a joy.

5. Study hall monitors and some of the special education aides are
shuffled around to cover classes, if a true emergency arises.

My suggestion is, that even in the lack of strong administrative
support, faculty members can do a lot to make their subs feel important,
appreciated and supported so that they are willing to return day after
day to do one of the most difficult jobs in education (next to perhaps
that of bus driver!)

Bill Heller


99/01 -->  From: loretta cohen <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>I am curious as to why teachers have such a negative attitude about
substitute teachers. They are providing a service to you when you cannot
be there so why are they regarded with such disdain? In my district to qualify
to be a substitute you must have a bachelor's degree and 18 hours of credit
in education. A person who can reach at least that level of education can't
be a total idiot. So, what's the deal?

I agree with you, substitute teachers are doing us and the students a
great favor! The problem is not the substitute teachers…the problem is
the teachers who hate preparing substitute lessons, or if they leave a
sub. lesson just to "fill in" the time. We teach block schedules, and I
know how difficult it is to leave substitute lessons when the sub
doesn't speak Spanish…or the foreign language he/she has to sub for,
but there are many lessons that the students can or should be able to
work the full block and gain from that period.

We should all share different ideas for those sub lessons we "all hate
to prepare" !

Loretta Cohen


99/01 -->  From: Anna <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

I asked the subs that worked for us what kind of lessons they would like
left for them to do. I was informed that they also studied to be
teachers so would I please leave them something to teach even if it is
for Spanish. I was informed that they do not want to baby-sit but would
rather teach. I was impressed at the desire to teach so now I leave step
by step instructions for my subs. For the most part, they accomplish
what I request.

Anna Damiens


99/01 -->  From: Richard Lee <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

I really think that often subs are the targets of undeserved criticism.
As I've commented in earlier postings, I think that the sub faces a
situation which is much more difficult than the regular teacher does.
Just think for a moment what it would be like for one of us to have to
go into an advanced math class cold (I know of a few FL teachers who are
not terribly proficient in math--can't balance their checkbooks).

We can help with good lesson plans that don't require the sub to know
the language (usually the sub is NOT a FL teacher) and we can do some
preparation in terms of behavior expectation before the occasion arises.
I think that it's important for the students to know that the regular
teacher will follow up on discipline problems which occur when the sub
is in charge. I had one class that was absolutely unmanageable (I hope
that the semester in question counts for something as penance for my
past sins--it sure seemed like purgatory to have to go into that room
with that group and there was a great sense of relief when it was
over--I often had the feeling that if I could squirt some of them with
holy water they would just vaporize but since we are a public school, I
couldn't put that theory to the test).

Daily trips to the office were the norm and hardly a day passed that I
didn't send someone to the suspension room. What chance would a sub have
in that kind of situation? If there is a really difficult group, imagine
what they will try to get away with when they know that the sub will not
be there the next day to follow up on discipline. I really think that we
owe it to the subs who help us out of tight spots to give them the same
kind of support that we often complain about not getting from the
admins. That knife cuts both ways.

Richard Lee


99/01 -->  From: Helen Pope <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

In regard to the recent comments about substitutes, I would like to add
something that I've not seen posted. First, I would like to say that I
really do appreciate substitutes and what they do for us. I was a sub
for 5 months after I finished college and it was no picnic. I vowed that
I would never leave sloppy plans unless I were on my death bed! The
problem is that my concern for making things easy for the substitute has
backfired many times. I don't expect a sub to be able to teach French,
so I try to leave work that the students can do independently and
without a lot of frustration. As all of you know, this is an incredible
amount of extra paperwork for me and nothing at all what I would be
doing in class if I were there.

The result? Many times I have had a sub say to me: "It must be nice to
teach French and have such an easy job! The students did all their work
and I didn't have to do anything. You are so lucky!" Many teachers in my
school seem to think that foreign language teachers have it made anyway
(I've never figured out why!!!!), so comments like this don't help the
situation. I don't have a solution to the problem, except to go to
school if there is any way possible. Pride, as well as concern for my
students, makes me continue to try to leave the best plans possible when
I do have to be out. Anyway, I feel better now that I have had the
opportunity to vent! :)

Helen Pope

E. Qualifications or Training For Substitute Teachers

Perhaps because nearly all FLTEACH participants are classroom teachers,
no one other than Patricia Kuntz has commented or inquired about how local
school districts prepare people to function as substitute teachers.  Are
administrators frightening away prospective substitutes?  Are administrators
taking appropriate steps to keep substitutes happy?  Obviously an area
into which more teachers need to peek.

97/02 -->  From: patricia s kuntz <>
Subject: Inquiry - FL substitute teacher

"Foreign" Language Substitute Teachers

I am preparing an article on the training for and the process of
substitute teaching at the pre-collegiate level. Therefore, I would
appreciate any tips or suggestions for teacher trainers or for
substitute teachers.

1. Does your school assign your class substitute teachers with  state
certification in the target language?

2. What type of training is provided the substitute teacher(s)
concerning collaboration and cooperation?    a. you - regular, permanent
teacher     b. your student teacher

3. What are the expectations for the substitute teacher when you  are

4. Do you receive a list of FL-certified teacher with whom you  can
consult during the year or involve in workshops?

5. What additional qualifications do you seek in a FL substitute

a. travel/study in target language country(ies)
b. member of a FL professional organization
c. familiarity with textbooks for each level
d. familiarity with the ACTFL/state guidelines
e. knowledge of computer technology
f. other....

6. What recommendations do you have for FL substitute teachers?
a. middle school level
6th grade
7th grade
8th grade
b. high school level
first year
second year
third year
fourth year
fifth year
sixth year (AP)

PS: Presently, I am in my third year of substitute teaching in an
Upper-Midwest urban school system. In this district, "foreign" languages
are offered at the middle school (Chinese, French, German, Spanish) and
the high school (Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Spanish)
levels. Some elementary schools offer exploratory after-school programs
in a variety of languages.

The district sub office tells me that many of the current substitute
teachers are very qualified holding masters and/or doctorates in the
subject area of their certification. In addition, many of the FL sub.
teachers have taught in the U.S. and in a target language country.

Patricia S. Kuntz

F. Heroes Do Exist, But They’re Rare

Did you ever meet a substitute teacher whom every teacher wanted when
s/he was going to be absent? This is a person who is so personable that
all the kids nearly fall over themselves to be cooperative. This teacher
follows lesson plans in detail and leaves you a carefully written
account of the day. If you (Heaven forbid, but emergencies do happen!)
should not have been able to leave lesson plans, some kind of pertinent
lesson will be taught that day. If you (Shame!) didn't have seating
charts set aside for substitute teacher use, you probably will find a
newly composed set waiting for you the next morning.

This "super sub" teaches nearly every day for about 1/3 the experienced
teacher's pay and usually gets no benefits. And what can make you
wonder, is that your kids rave about this teacher and want you to be
sure to have that teacher again the next time you are absent! (And maybe
you wonder a bit if they are encouraging you to be absent just so this
wondrous creature can sub for you again.)

Some super subs are vigorous, others are 'way laid back. They all
radiate something like self-confidence, and they do it in a way that
makes the people around them want to be a part of that. Some go on like
this for veritable decades, while others are waiting for an
administrator to wise up and sign them to a regular contract.

95/11 -->  From: Carla Gilmore <>
Subject: the Non-credentialed sub who saved our lives

Wanted to share our experiences with both a "non-certificated" teacher
and two teachers who came to us, both credentialed, both with degrees in
Spanish. The first credentialed teacher we hired was young,
enthusiastic, and excited. She had finished her student teaching with a
well known FL teacher so she felt confident and ready to assume her own
classroom. She was the top candidate out of UCLA. Since there are two FL
mentors in our school, she received many hours of training before school
began in the fall. Her first year, she seemed impervious to suggestions,
even after her classroom had become the unofficial disaster area of our
school. The classroom had become an actual danger to her and to her

With constant support from the administration and the mentors,
suggestion after suggestion was made; she chose to ignore them all. She
was disorganized, seemed to hate the kids (ours aren't perfect but in
our area we have the best reputation for running an orderly and safe
environment and our students have a very good reputation), lost or
misplaced teacher texts, answer keys, supplies, etc. etc. We asked to
have her let go after the parental and student complaints began to
average 10 a day. Our administrator wanted to give her another chance so
she was moved into the main building and placed across from the 2
mentors. This, of course, caused a lot of hard feelings from others who
had to relocate. The second year was better but not much. Still little
classroom control or discipline, still unorganized lessons, still the
same attitude with the kids. Finally, she left at the end of the year--.
Second teacher, again credentialed, intelligent, BA in Spanish. She
lasted 5 weeks.

In comes a non-credentialed Latin American Studies sub--limited
proficiency in Spanish and up front about it. The mentors worked with
him the first day, as they had been doing for several weeks with other
subs. The difference is that he listened to suggestions, was willing to
come in early for extra help, and even though he frankly admitted to the
students his limited proficiency, they seemed to admire his openness and
his obvious respect for them. He was asked to remain until the end of
the semester. He comes to the mentors and asks for help if he is
confused on how to present a lesson--asks for teachers to model for him
1 period so he can see how a lesson is presented, observes during his
conference period etc. etc. His lessons are more communicative based,
more interesting, more student oriented than some of our colleagues. He
is open and willing to learn.

This man is just two steps ahead of the students, but, for whatever
magical chemistry that some teachers seem to possess, the students are
learning. We have district and department exams so he is carefully
monitored, but is so wonderful, we are dying to keep him. Will we be
allowed to? I doubt it although he seems to think that he might like
this business after all and would put in the work at this point to get
his credential. He was "just getting an idea of whether or not he would
like teaching" as a sub--I hope he does! My point is that every
situation is unique. Unfortunately in So. Ca. where qualified Spanish
teachers are rare indeed and where qualified Spanish teachers who can
actually teach are almost non-existent, perhaps we need to explore other

However "Qualified" a teacher may be, this does not seem to make them a
"good teacher" in the sense that in order to share their knowledge or
inspire students to want to learn, they first need to be able to provide
a positive classroom environment. When they are unable to do the latter,
the former never is allowed to happen either. Frankly, we'd love to keep
our "unqualified sub" because no doubt this time next year we will be in
the same situation when the next "qualified" candidate is unable to
manage his class and quits after a year or a few weeks.
I must say that this is a radical shift for me but who says we're too
old to learn from experience? Give me a "natural teacher" who loves kids
and loves to teach, who can inspire them, challange them, wants to
learn, and is eager to work hard with even an intermediate proficiency
level, and I think, at this point, I would welcome him with open arms.
By the way, we have an opening in February since our "sub" plans to
journey to South America to improve his proficiency. If interested,
e-mail me personally.

Just my thoughts,

Hilt Dean

G. Stories That Turn Teachers Gray

96/03 --> From: Kathleen March
Subject: Re: Fwd: Substituting in other languages..

>Hello! I am a recent graduate who holds French certification who
currently subs for French, Spanish, German and Latin. I am looking
for activities, ideas, etc for the students for the languages that I do not
speak. I have found that the teachers often leave plans for the classes,
but there are times when incomplete plans are left. I would just like to
know what I could do with these classes that are not French. Thanks

Please do not take this wrong, but I am amazed that a school system
would have you substituting for 3 languages which you do not speak. What
does this tell us about the attitudes of school systems toward
languages? I would commend you for being concerned for your students,
but I would give the school an F for its knowledge of what languages are
all about. I would rather have my daughter skip Spanish if her teacher
were ill or out and do extra work in another subject. The only problem
is, I happen to be my daughter's Spanish teacher (on a volunteer basis).
The solution I offer is the one the school has: if I am not available
due to my own work at the university, they do not have Spanish. I may
ask that they go on in their workbook, or they finish making up a set of
cards for verbs or vocabulary, but that is all.

Kathleen March


98/03 -->  From: S Raymond <>
Subject: Re: Substitute teaching

This story reminded me of something that happened to me in the fall. I
was doing my student teaching and had finished at the Middle School. The
teacher needed to be out and requested my help in coming back, talking
about life in France with the students with a sub in the room. I did and
got through most of the period with the sub working quietly in the back
of the room. At the very end of the period he got up and told my
students: "You know, if you travel in France just about everyone there
speaks English so you really don't need to study French to communicate
with the French!!" Wasn't that helpful????

Sue Raymond


98/04 -->  From: JBeauch919 <JBeauch919@AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: Do your SUBS do this? (Formerly, "Do your kids....?)

>>I was out Friday because I took the students to a foreign language
contest. I had a sub. The students loved her. Why? She told them that
the assignment was on the board. She did not care if they did the assignments.
She left one of my classes and was gone 30 minutes of a 90 minute period.
Who knows what went on! In another class she cut on the radio and sang and
danced with a couple of boys. She told the class about going to a bar with
her ex-husband and boy friend on Saturday night. One of the boys told

I too had something similar occur with respect to the note warning the
sub of potential misbehavior, which I have always done when warranted. I
could not believe it when the class told me that the sub had done this.
Of course, they were upset that I had left such a note, since their "off
task" behavior didn't seem apparent to them, which it rarely does when
kids have subs.(or teachers!) I'm sure most of us have horror stories of
this type. Our system is supposed to be pretty strict re sub adherence
to policy, but often we are chronically short of qualified subs so the
not-so-professional ones get handed classes that they cannot or will not
control. Of course, our system also wants blood from a turnip--about $45
a day....

Jon Beauchamp


98/04 -->  From: Karen Hatch <>
Subject: Re: Do your SUBS do this? (Formerly, "Do your kids....?)

Last October I had a baby that came a month early. The sub they sent to
my room did not know ANY Spanish...she would not follow my lesson plans,
she stood by while some students vandalized a cupboard, more than $500
worth of videos and computer disks were stolen, she was rude to me and
then told the district office that I was rude to her....she bad mouthed
me to my students, I could go on and on. She was there for 3 weeks
before they found someone else. In that time she destroyed my program. I
had a C-section and the incision got infected so I was out of school for
2 months.....what a mess!!! I'm still dealing with it on several levels.
My only consolation is that she will NEVER sub at my school again!!
My district only pays $50. a day....I'll bet where ever it is that pays
$85 pays their teachers a whole lot more that I receive too. My district
starts new teachers at about $20,000. This is my 9th year, I have 48
post graduate credits and I make slightly more than $30,000.

Oh the joys of living in IDAHO....

Karen Hatch


99/01 -->  From: Allison Flowers <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>I asked the subs that worked for us what kind of lessons they would like
left for them to do. I was informed that they also studied to be teachers so
would I please leave them something to teach even if it is for Spanish. I
was informed that they do not want to baby-sit but would rather teach. I
was impressed at the desire to teach so now I leave step by step instructions
for my subs. For the most part, they accomplish what I request.

I'd kill for subs like that. Two out of the last 3 subs I've had
couldn't even take roll correctly - WITH INSTRUCTIONS. <sigh>

Allison (Small) (Shulman) Flowers


99/01 -->  From: Judy Henry <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

I have a horror of many subs now. There are some good ones, and there
are a couple of good Spanish-speaking ones (retired teachers), but they
are often booked ahead. We have a sub shortage, so I plan for an
English-speaking warm body (and cross my fingers my colleagues don't
have to take an hour from their day to sub). In our area, I understand
flipping burgers is better than subbing.

When the sub cannot read and follow my computer-typed, step-by- step
plans, complete with all necessary materials and books, it really makes
me wonder. I've had subs come late and want to leave early (one asked
another sub to take the last hour class so she could leave), those who
leave no record of absences, some who do their own thing (complete with
non-subject matter video), one who spent time talking on the
in-classroom phone while the kids were trying to take a test, and others
who spend the time talking about their kids and/or their own life
experiences and just don't have any time left to do the lesson.

Judy Henry


99/01 -->  From: Bill Mann <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

My district also has a sub shortage. There is one particular sub that I
have had trouble with in the past. When I call out, I state on the
answering machine NOT to send "so-and-so" as she never follows my plans.

On one occasion, I was sent to a workshop that began at 8:30 and a
parent meeting at 7:30. The workshop was only a few minutes away from
the school. I met with this sub in the morning and put all the materials
in her hands. My 4R classes were reviewing verbs and the classes are
very small (10, 9, 11 students) so I left a game for them to use to
drill the conjugations. The game included keeping track of things and
writing things down. When I got back from the workshop, I checked my
mailbox for the work. She left me a note saying that she could not find
the Spinners to use for the game so she let the class play hangman on
the board.

Now, I was really angry at this! I put the spinners in her hand and said
"these are the spinners for the game in 4R". This sub consistently
changes lesson plans, reads her poetry to the classes, tells them about
her life, and tries to convince the students that her religion is the
only "real" religion.

Despite the fact of knowing that subbing is thankless, I cannot accept
that this is appropriate and despite requesting that I do not have her
as my sub, we have a sub shortage and if she is the only one left
available, she is assigned to my class. Despite all the complaints, she
always gets an assignment.

Bill Mann


99/01 -->  From: lori <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>I am curious as to why teachers have such a negative attitude about
substitute teachers. They are providing a service to you when you cannot
be there so why are they regarded with such disdain? In my district to qualify
to be a substitute you must have a bachelor's degree and 18 hours of credit
in education. A person who can reach at least that level of education can't
be a total idiot. So, what's the deal?

We're only human, I suppose, and therefore guilty of generalizing.
However, the record in our department speaks for itself lately. Of the
last 6 or 7 subs who have provided such an invaluable service, we have
the following examples:

#1) presented himself in my room during lunch and said, "Okay, what do I
do?" After asking who he was there to replace, and whether he had any
instructions, he showed me a very well organized, list of instructions,
including: "All materials are in my box." His reply: "Oh, I guess I'll
look there."

#2) left no report whatsoever of anything that had occurred during the
day, not even the list of absences I requested in the instructions.

#3) left a note stating: "I didn't realize you had a first period class.
Mr. Hatten covered your class and his."

#4) spent all or part of every class demonstrating her knowledge of
Japanese. Not a terribly good record, I'm afraid. Perhaps if they read
the instructions as closely as they seem to read the newspaper....

Lori Baird

H. Substitute Teaching In Other Countries

98/04 -->  From: "James C. May" <>
Subject: Substitutes in other countries

All this talk of substitute teachers in American classrooms made me
think about how other countries handle this situation. Senegal, for
example, uses the French system. Teachers who were absent in my high
school had their names and dates of absences listed on a blackboard
outside for all to see; the students simply didn't go to that class. I
would tell my students ahead of time if I knew I would not be in school
so they wouldn't have to come for nothing. I wish there were a way to
implement this here because the whole subbing thing seems like such a
waste of time. Of course I realize that it will never happen due to
legal problems, etc. But I am curious: What do other countries do when
the teacher is absent?

James C. May


98/04 -->  From: Ines.Lormand@HEINLE.COM
Subject: Re: Substitutes in other countries

>All this talk of substitute teachers in American classrooms made me
think about how other countries handle this situation. Senegal, for
example, uses the French system. Teachers who were absent in my high
school had their names and dates of absences listed on a blackboard
outside for all to see; the students simply didn't go to that class. I
would tell my students ahead of time if I knew I would not be in school
so they wouldn't have to come for nothing. I wish there were a way to
implement this here because the whole subbing thing seems like such a
waste of time. Of course I realize that it will never happen due to
legal problems, etc. But I am curious: What do other countries do when
the teacher is absent?
James C. May

James, in Germany it is done the same way it is done in France. The
office announces that a teacher is out, and the students have the hour
off. Most of the time this is used to do homework, but the can go off
campus if they desire. Just so they are back in time for their next
class. It saves the school systems a lot of money, but also, as you
said, there are no legal ramifications for the school administration.

Ines Lormand


98/04 -->  From: Judy  <>
Subject: James May's question re-subs in other countries

In France the classes are generally cancelled. At least that's the way
it works with a school that participates in an an exchange with our
district. When possible, students know ahead of time.

Judith Speiller


98/04 -->  From: Petra Hobrecht <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes in other countries

In our school in Germany we tell kids to stay home or go home early if
it's their first or last period and if the school knows at least a day
in advance.

For all other periods another teacher has to sub (unless it's senior
high school in American terms), but we would only get paid extra if it
happened more than four times a month to the same teacher. So the school
makes sure that it doesn't :-)). Sometimes we try to send a teacher to
sub who teaches the class in the first or last period on another day, so
that we can send the class home early on that day instead. Mind that our
timetables look different from the typical American one.

I make the timetables for our school and I "have orders" to have at
least three teachers without class for every period during the day. For
the first period at least one teacher has to be there just in case.

However, a few years back we decided to mark every hour that a teacher
does on top of his or her own work, and as soon as you have collected
something like 20 or 25 hours you will get to teach one weekly period
less for the next semester.

Does that make sense?

Petra Hobrecht ;-)


99/01 -->  From: Mary-Anne Vetterling <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>My sub is a junior in a university.




98/04 -->  From: DTLWFL <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes in other countries

When I taught in a private Colombian school for girls in Bogota,
Colombia, we had to sub for each other. The "directora" of the high
school section would go into the teacher workroom and write who was
absent on the board, and then who was to sub for her during that hour.
Sometimes that made for a long day if you had a lot of classes that day
anyway....... That was in the mid 80s. It may be different now.

Diane Taylor


98/04 -->  From: Kerstin Franzen <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes in other countries

Here in Sweden, you are paid if you have to sub for another teacher and
that payment is based on the level of your monthly salary. Since a few
years back we are suffering severe cuts in our school budgets and one of
the consequences is that classes at middle school or high school
sometimes do not get a sub when their teacher is absent. The class then
has that period off.

I have also heard from some elementary schools that when a teacher is
sick another teacher has to supervise that teacher's class while having
his/her own. This year it is election year so naturally more money has
been promised to the schools and the care fo the elderly. Remains to be
seen how these promises are fulfilled.

Thanks for all the interesting postings on various subjects. I learn a
lot and I have used many of the URLs (French) that have been included.

Kerstin Franzen


98/04 -->  From: Lewis Johnson <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes in other countries

In the secundarias (junior highs) in Sonora, Mexico, class is cancelled
if the teacher is absent for short term absences (a day or a week?). The
students just hang out on campus until their next class.

For long term absences (a month?), a substitute is provided.

Lewie Johnson

I. Subbing in an unknown language

98/02 -->  From: Judy Pruess <>
Subject: Activities for monolingual sub

I am fortunate enough to have a school district that allows me to
travel with students during the school year. However, they never seem to
see fit to schedule a decent length spring break, so the students and I
miss from 7 to 9 days of class and here in rural Iowa, Spanish speaking
subs are as rare as a snowstorm in Iowa's July weather:-( .

Does anyone have any suggestions for culturally valuable, self-directed,
easy-to-grade activities? I teach all four levels, and have limited
access to internet through the school (the students have no E-mail,

Judy Pruess


96/03 -->  From: Mauricio Cabrera <>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Substituting in other languages..

>Please do not take this wrong, but I am amazed that a school system
would have you substituting for 3 languages which you do not speak.

Great point. IMHO, nobody who is not certified and PREPARED to teach a
class should be allowed to teach...

>What does this tell us about the attitudes of school systems toward languages?

I believe it tells us that the teaching profession is so looked down
upon that some believe that any warm body can be a teacher.

>One thing is to step in for history or English literature, but another is to do
this for a language or even for math. If we do not know certain subject areas,
we cannot fake it.


Mauricio Cabrera


96/03-->  From: Dianne Butler <>
Subject: Substituting in other languages..

Hello! I am a recent graduate who holds French certification who
currently subs for French, Spanish, German and Latin. I am looking for
activities, ideas, etc for the students for the languages that I do not
speak. I have found that the teachers often leave plans for the classes,
but there are times when incomplete plans are left. I would just like to
know what I could do with these classes that are not French. Thanks

Dianne Butler


96/03-->  From: Richard Boswell <>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Substituting in other languages..

Ask the students to teach you a little Span., Ger., or Lat. Bring in
some props, esp. children's toys that would break the ice and make the
students feel at ease. Do a little lesson in French using the props and
then invite the bright-eyed kid sitting in the front row to do the same
in Spanish, and you are the student. Eventually you could make some
comparisons between French and Spanish, showing that the languages have
a lot of features in common.

R Boswell


96/03 -->  From: Christy Hargesheimer <>
Subject: Re: Substituting in other languages..

My husband was subbing once in a French classroom, and his second
language is Spanish. Among the suggestions I gave him, the one he found
most successful was to ask the students to teach _him_ what they had
been learning in French. The students loved it, they in effect had a
good review of the previous few days' material, and then went on to
complete the work in the lesson plans. My husband came away with a few
new expressions in French which he was then able to use the next time he
subbed in French.

Christy Hargesheimer


96/03 -->  From: Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Substituting in other languages..

Unfortunately, the substitute situation described in the original post
is a reality for us in our district. We do have foreign language subs
but rarely enough to meet the demand.

Bob Hall


96/03 -->  From: "Erwin A. Petri" <>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Substituting in other languages..

Hi, I would be delighted to have a certified French teacher as a
substitute for any language teacher who is absent. Try to find language
teachers for substituting. They are next to impossible to find. And in
the public schools where there must be coverage, we usually have no
choice. We had an in-service meeting during the day a week ago and only
one of the subs for about 10 teachers had any language training. Even if
the French teacher does teach in another language class, at least she
will have some idea as to how to help students who are working at their
seats. Besides, I would rather have Dianne doing a little in a Spanish
class than to have students sit there for 45 minutes to do page after
page of mindless workbook exercises that many a teacher will dump when
she returns.

Erwin Petri


96/03 -->  From: Deby Doloff <>
Subject: Re: substituing in other languages..

Dianne :
After having read your post on FLTEACH, I would suggest to you to not
try to do work in the other language but instead prepare some cultural

In French, explore French art and artists--have some books from the
library with the art and talk about what colors are used and style and
how it makes you feel, then have the kids create something (on the
board, poster paper, etc.) trying to copy the style of the original. Or
maybe study French fashion and bring in readings about the major
couturiers and pictures of their fashions. You could even go so far as
perfume and read about the industry and bring in some samples to smell.
You could create your own fashion show if you want to get into using the
language ( if they know the vocabulary). If you wanted, you could even
separate them into groups and give them each newspaper and tape and have
them design something and then describe it in French.

In Spanish, you could study bullfighting and matadors. Again bring
readings about them and at the end have a discussion about it -- brutal
or not. You could bring in tapes of Latin music and talk about rhythms
or even listen to Flamenco music and read a little about its background.
I like to take students on an imagination trip. First I play some
flamenco and have them picture what I describe to them which is a smoky
bar with flamenco dancers in Spain. Then I play some mariachi music and
have them fly to Mexico in a plaza with a mariachi band during some
festival. Then I might have them stroll the streets of Madrid behind the
tuna who are going to serenade a señorita, ....etc.

In German I find the music also to be inspiring... Beethoven, Bach,
Mozart, etc. You could read about their lives and listen to some music.
You could read a Grimm fairy tale and have them reenact it in German or
with some German words.

In Latin you could have each kid read about a Latin god or goddess or
myth and then retell it to the rest of the class as if they were the god
or goddess involved. Or you could do a dictionary search for as many
words of Latin origin and their English meaning as they can find. You
could have a competition or prizes for attaining different levels.

I also search the multicultural books for games and have found different
cultural games to play. Some of them are board games and some are more
active ones.
I hope this helps you out.

Deby Doloff


96/03 -->  From: Kathleen March <>
Subject: Fwd: Re: Fwd: Substituting in other languages..

It's not always easy for a district to find substitute teachers who are
certified in the language. I teach Latin and there are some people who
are willing to substitute for Latin because they took Latin for a couple
years in high school, but most Latin teachers with certification have
jobs. (One nice thing about having certification in Latin is that there
are more jobs than there are Latin teachers.) Typically, my subs have
had a couple years of high school Latin, but I would dare to say most do
not have secondary certification in Latin. Several years ago, I know
that there WAS a former Latin teacher who substituted in the district,
but she has retired and moved to another state.

>One thing is to step in for history or English literature, but another is to
do this for a language or even for math. If we do not know certain subject
areas, we cannot fake it.

I also teach ninth grade government and I have to say that I resent this
assertion. I don't think that it is necessarily easy for someone to step
into a social studies or English classroom. I work very hard to develop
my plans for my social studies students. I spent just as much time
preparing for my certification in social studies as I did for my Latin

>I would commend you for being concerned for your students, but I
would give the school an F for its knowledge of what languages are all about.

I don't think you are being very fair at all. Unless she is a French
teacher who is being asked to sub for six to eight weeks for a German
teacher, I don't see anything wrong with her covering one or two days for
a teacher who is at a conference or ill -- even if she is not certified in that
language. I have covered classes for French and Spanish teachers and
French and Spanish and English teachers have covered for me.

By the way, I have substituted for many different disciplines. Last
year, I worked most of the day as a Latin teacher, but had the last two
periods of the day off as a part-time teacher. I subbed for classes as diverse
as Business Ed, Computer Keyboarding, Social Studies, English, Science
and other foreign languages in the afternoon.

>The solution I offer is the one the school has: if I am not available due
to my own work at the university, they do not have Spanish. I may ask
that they go on in their workbook, or they finish making up a set of cards
for verbs or vocabulary, but that is all.

There are other more imaginative things that a person can do --
particularly if that person has had training as a foreign language
teacher. It may not be possible for that person to lead a sophisticated
lesson, but I am sure that the kids could do something more interesting
than that. How about a game of Vocabulary Pictionary?

You don't need to even SAY the words. Get out their textbook, go to a
page with a list of vocabulary -- say in a chapter review -- and let the
kids go at it. You can POINT to a word. The student can draw clues on
the board and teams can guess the word. Higher level classes would
probably do this in the target language. It would probably be more
stimulating than making a set of flashcards. I certainly would not
instruct kids to work ahead in a
workbook if I weren't left specific instructions to do so by the
classroom teacher.

I wouldn't attempt to try to carry on a conversation with a French
class, having had no French. But I would trust if I were covering a
French class taught by one of my colleagues that I could do a simple
activity like Pictionary with them.

The main thing a sub needs to be able to do is continue with classroom
control so that the kids can do something meaningful until their regular
teacher returns.

When someone substitutes for me, I ask mostly that they maintain
classroom control and follow the directions I have left them. If they do
that, I feel that they have done their job. If they are imaginative
enough to fill in with an activity such as the one I have described
above to fill in the time left AFTER doing the sub plans I have left,
then I would consider them a great substitute teacher.

What bothers me when I have a sub is someone who ignores my instructions
-- for example, one sub I had permitted the kids to chew gum and eat
candy in class, despite my specific directions that they not be allowed
to do so.

A good short term sub can follow directions.

Long term subs SHOULD be certified in the language. Any good long term
sub will probably end up getting snapped up by a school system, though.

Kathleen March


96/09 -->  From: Laura Long <>
Subject: material for substitute teacher

Do you have any special lessons that you leave for a substitute to do
when you have to be absent? It is so hard to find activities for
students to do when often the substitute doesn't speak a foreign

Laura Long

J. Materials for the Substitute Teacher

96/03 -->  From: Nancy Frumkin <>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Substituting in other languages..

In our district, we are thrilled to have a real live substitute
teacher!! On bad days, our colleagues are pulled out of their conference
hours to "cover".  On really bad days, no one shows up to cover or sub.
Teach them Spanish? I'm not always sure that that the administration
thinks that is MY primary function.

We bought the PBS "Americas" series, and I have subs show those. I love
it, and there are 10 videos. They complain that it's hard, and my
response is, "Good, I'm glad you were challenged. If I can benefit from
seeing it more than once, so can you." My sub plans include my standard
instructions to the students: "I expect you to watch TV and take notes.
Do not sleep, do not do other schoolwork, do not talk. Watch TV and take
notes. I will collect them at the end of the hour. Any questions?"

Nancy Frumkin


96/09 -->  From: Kent Noland <>
Subject: Re: material for substitute teacher

Spanish-speaking subs here on the reservation are a distinct rarity. In
nine years, I have had one. I usually just prepare a word search puzzle
with Spanish terms and vocabulary relating to the most recent lesson,
and they earn points by finding and interpreting the words. Plenty of
word search puzzle games around.

Pancho Noland


96/09 -->  From: Clifton <>
Subject: Re: material for substitute teacher

One thing I do is a dictionary exercise. Since many of my students have
trouble using an English dictionary I feel it's a valuable exercise in
any language.

I made up a list of items to be "found" in the dictionary, sort of like
a scavenger hunt. I try to help them find the difference between "je"
and "un oeil", "aimer" and "comme". It's in English so the sub can help
them, yet it does address a specific skill needed in FL.

Jennie Clifton


96/09 -->  From: Judy Frumkin <>
Subject: Re: material for substitute teacher

I would also like to know what material to leave for the substitute
teacher on a block schedule. It's bad enough and hard enough for the students
to be in class for 80 minutes when the teacher is there! What could we
leave for the substitute to do? The only thing we can come up with is a
video with a worksheet but that is assuming that the substitute doesn't
mind operating a VCR and that we have one available!!!
Thank you for any suggestions.

Judy Frumkin


96/09 -->  From: "Novela 3525@AOL.Com" <>
Subject: Re: material for substitute teacher


Some ideas for your substitute are:
1. Tape youself "teaching" a class. You can give a cue where the
substitute would pause the tape and give students handouts to complete
on the "lesson".
I have done this several times due to my having breast cancer. I needed
to get my chemo treatment and I didn't want my students to lose out on
too much.
The first time I did this, my substitute told me the kids couldn't
believe it! :-) Of course you will need a hubby like mine that only
taped my "good" side!!!!

2. I also prepare generic lesson plans for those emergency days. I
prepare "culture packets" with exercises, drawings, projects, etc. that
the students need to complete.

3. Show a movie and leave a good activity for the students to complete.
For example--The Lion King in Spanish (or your target language). This
particular one came with a puzzle and different level activities .

4. My students do a lot of hands on projects. For example a poster
showing what they like or don't like. So sometimes I'll plan the initial
introduction and allow them to finish their projects the day the sub is
(I have invested in my "creative boxes" that my students use for their
creative talents!!) These boxes (rubber made type) have crayons, color
pencils, markers, rulers, glue and tape. I always keep the scissors. :-)

One very IMPORTANT thing to remember: Students are to turn in their work
and teachers are to grade them!!!! That way they know that this isn't
just busy work!!

Hasta la proxima,
Nilsa Sotomayor


96/09 -->  From: vaughn williams <>
Subject: Re: material for substitute teacher

In '88 I was out of the room a lot, sometimes for days at a time. None
of my substitutes spoke Spanish and many times I didn't have the same
teacher consecutively. One of the things I did was to have myself
videotaped (and videotaped myself). By doing this I was able to pretty
much continue lessons, although the activities in some cases were
passive. I did demonstrations, began discussions and had them continue
them in groups on cassette tapes, had them work on essays, read,
practice group presentations, and work in centers. Sometimes when I
couldn't videotape, I managed to audiotape myself. It wasn't the same,
but it went over well, since the students realize that I was making an
effort to leave them "busy work" and since they understood the

Jean Carolyn Williams


96/09 -->  From: Alla Pavlovna Zakharova <>
Subject: Re: material for substitute teacher

What about going to the computer lab and working there with language
CD's? Provided the students are already familiar with that kind of work
and the lab is available. The substitute teacher can facilitate the
activities without any knowledge of the target language.

Alla Zakharova.


96/09 -->  From: Jean Bodle <>
Subject: substitute lesson plans

I have the same problem, and often leave a film with a worksheet
questions that the students are to answer as they watch. I have also put
together a worksheet about the currency and exchange rates between
different countries that can be used by subs.

Jean Bodle


98/08 -->  From: Don Elliott <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Material

I have found using videos to be very successful. To use a video well,
there should be some form of accountability. I have several for Spanish
that deal with specific regions of the world. I have made worksheets
with a series of questions related to the video. The student must answer
the questions while watching the video. I then count the worksheet as a
test grade. I use an electronic grade book, mine is "e-class" which is
part of a larger system "Winschools" that will soon be networked into
our entire school. I can thus give a grade of one point for each answer
on the sheet. That way even the dullard subs we get can handle the work.

Don Elliott,


98/08 -->  From: "Virginia L. Moore" <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Material

Our department chair suggests that we do culture worksheets. She said
what ever we do needs to be in English because there are not enough subs
who can do foreign languages. I go to Amsco's first year Spanish and
copy pages from the back of the book and leave it for the sub. If it is
not used because I am not absent I incorporate it into a culture lesson
and test the students over the material on their final exam.

Virginia moore


98/08 -->  From: "Helen V. Jones" <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Material

A crossword puzzle or word search prepared with the vocabulary for the
chapter they are currently studying is always a good thing to have on
hand for subs. I have used the www puzzle site for these. The students
like puzzles and vocabulary review is always helpful.
My students also love Spanish Scrabble. We don't play often, but that is
a treat on the rare occasions I have a substitute. Lower level classes
are permitted to use the glossary in the back of their book to find

Helen V. Jones


98/08 -->  From: "Charles F. Edwards" <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Material

Another possibility would be to make up a culture lesson on a specific
country using "Culturgrams" from BYU. They are fairly detailed (at least
in relation to what the books typically offer), short (4 pages) papers
on specific countries. There are a total of 160 of them; you can also
buy them in packs which include all Spanish- and French-speaking
countries. They're either 3 or 4 bucks a piece, with a discount when you
buy the package deals. You can get information about them at
800.528.6279, or their web site:

Chuck Edwards


99/02 -->  From: Carol Gaab <>
Subject: Sub plans- How does one do TPRS...

The following are some sub ideas that I sent to another listera who
asked for TPRS sub plans. I am forwarding them to the list this time in
case there are others who are interested.


 I have a whole set of TPRS lesson plans for a sub or for when I'm "out
To lunch" or have a headache.  I'm going to list them briefly and then if
you have questions, please ask.

• I keep all the vocab that has been covered in a hat. The sub pulls 10
to 12 words out of the hat and students have to write and illustrate a
complete story using all of those words. This usually takes the whole
hour and can be altered by using words in random order, in the order
they were drawn, reverse order or alphabetical order.

• I have story illustrations on hand in a file. Pull out Illust. #4.
Have students write a narration to correspond to the pictures. They must
include title, character names and descriptions, plot, conclusion. Write
and illustrate a prequel or sequel to the story you wrote

• Using the vocab. from the last chapter, write and illustrate an
original story using as many words as you can.

• I keep files of illustrations that-- have a start pic. and nothing
else, have an end pic. and nothing else, have an end and a start pic.
Students must fill in the rest of the story with illustrations and
written narration.

If you have LD students, pair them up with a stronger student. Have one
work on illustrations and the other on the written narration. They must
prepare the story to present to the class.

There are lots of paired/group communication activities that you can do
with the class once you return. I usually only have the BEST stories
presented to the class.

I keep a tape recorded story on hand. (I use the vocab from the
beginning of the year.) The sub (or you in your sickly state) play the
story for the class. (2x) The students must retell the story they heard
and illustrate it.

(I do all my sub plans during the first week of school. Of course, after
a few years of preparing, I have a pretty big file. :)

Hope this helps!

Carol Gaab

K. Preparing Your Class for a Substitute

96/09 -->  From: Madeline Bishop <>
Subject: Substitutes

About substitute teachers... I have used non-French speaking subs very
effectively and really not lost much momentum in my regular program. I
go to France with students in March so I have had to develop effective
sub plans for five levels. Here's what I do:

I train my kids to work without me before the sub ever has to come. Just
for a break, and to remind them that it really is their responsibility to
learn, not just my responsibility to teach, sometimes I'll take a lesson
(which should last three or four days and cover maybe 6 pages in the
text) and write out every activity which a group of two or three
students could do together to practise this material. (See example
below) Then when the sub comes, the kids are already trained to take
this responsibility..

EXAMPLE of check off list students get.

1.____Pronounce aloud the new vocabulary on page 42. (Help each other if
someone has difficulty.)

2.____Exercises 1, 2., page 43 Play the separate roles. Do it orally

3.____Excercise 3. Write out sentences 1 and 2, then check with me or
the monitor (usually one of the best students in the class, or an
exchange student) to make sure you are on the right track.

4.____Write the rest of exercise 3.

5.___ Draw a picture and label it using the new vocabulary you have
learned so far.

6.____Give each other a spelling quiz based on the new vocab. If you
miss any words, write them below three times correctly.

7.____Summarize in less than 15 words, the cultural information about
French bakeries found on page 44.

etc., etc.

The last item on the list is usually an assignment of communicative
writing activities they have in a workbook and should be finished at
home. This keeps everyone busy, even those who finish first.

Students love to check off each activity as they do it. The sub collects
these each day and redistributes them the next. If I am gone a long
time, their might be several lessons done this way, or some of them
might include a long story.

For advanced classes, these check off lists are in French with and the
first line says,

1.____Below I have indicated each time I spoke English instead of

You will be surprised at how the students will stay in the language even
if the sub hasn't a clue.

This method has worked for me for years. The subs seem to be impressed
and the kids are super proud they can do this. The key is having a visual
reminder for them (and a record for you) of what they do when the sub is

The sub merely has to circulate in the room and make sure the groups are
on task.

Admittedly, for French I, this works best during second semester.

Hope this helps just a little bit. the sub "thang" (to quote TBob) can
be a problem.

Madeline Bishop


98/03 -->  From: Susan Mitchell <>
Subject: Re: Substitute teaching

I also try to be a specific in my lesson plans to a sub as I can
possibly can. I make sure that the students also know that I do this and
what I expect out of them as far as behavior in the room with a sub.
Last year when my daughter was almost killed in a car accident and was
hospitalized for 2 1/2 months, I was writing sub lesson plans every
other day, along with details of what students can and cannot do in my
class. Since they had the same sub, things in my room did progress
smoothly. I still make it a habit when I know I am going to be out ahead
of time to tell students what I expect them to do in class during my
absence along with behavior. They know that when I return it is too easy
to find out if anyone tried pulling the wool over the subs eyes and if
so we will sit down and discuss the incident. I do not have a problem
with kids misbehaving or asking for passes out of my room during my

Susan Mitchell


99/01 -->  From: "R. Alan Shellhause" <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

Where is the responsibility of the students in the substitute issue? It
is very difficult to get substitutes in our area. The economy is so good
that better paying jobs are easy to find. We are happy if the secretary
tells us that we have a substitute! Therefore, I feel that it is at
least partially the students' responsibility to act appropriately... OR

Early on in the year I let the students know what is expected of them
when I have a sub. I also tell them where they will find their work to
be done and that if it is not done, they will suffer the consequences.
They are not allowed to say that the sub didn't give them their work,
that they didn't know what to do, that the sub did something else or any
of their million tales.

They know where the work is, they know it must be turned in before
leaving the room and where to put it. If it is not there they know there
will be dire consequences for them. I don't threaten them often, so they
take the threat very seriously. I subbed straight out of college having
graduated a quarter early and I know how hard it is. Subs don't mind
coming to my room because everyone knows what the expectations are.

Becky Shellhause


99/01 -->  From: MS JANET R WOODHOUSE <>
Subject: subtitutes again

I have the schedule from hell this year and I am so grateful when a sub
will come in for me; luckily I have the same one who has been in several
times already. I have four different class preparations and teach in two
separate buildings and every other day I have a different schedule of

I gently tell my classes in the beginning of each new term that I may
have to be gone. (I coach golf so it is a given in the spring season. )
I explain that substitutes are guests in our building and I expect them
to be treated in that manner. They do seem to understand this,
especially when I follow up with the next comment. I further explain that
substitutes aren't paid a lot of money and that most do it only because
they enjoy working with young people. Therefore I expect them to be
treated accordingly and any names that are left by the substitute, those
students will have me to deal with when I return. Some have learned the
hard way I follow through.

There is a system at our middle school where the students can earn
ineligible marks. I give them double marks if a sub leaves their name;
one mark from me and one from the sub. That really works for that level.
At the high school they get to spend after school time in my room and I
keep them busy... no sleeping or just sitting. I have not had any

As a former substitute, I appreciate what this person does for education
and my sanity! They could pay them double here and it still wouldn't be
enough! (Presently it's $65 per day.)

Janet Woodhouse


99/01 -->  From: Cherice Montgomery <>
Subject: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

>I feel that it is at least partially the students' responsibility to act
appropriately... OR > ELSE!

The above comment made me wonder . . . what kinds of actions do each of
you take when a substitute leaves the name of a student who has

Cherice Montgomery


99/01 -->  From: Susan Nees Bustos <>
Subject: Re: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

I let my students know that if the sub writes them up on their notes for
poor behavior that they will be assigned 1 hour of "After School
Detention". We have an aide that is in charge of it, so it's pretty
painless for me. I did have one sub this year who I really felt was a
little out of line. My best students requested that I never get her
again--but I did stick to my policy and the students who were assigned
the detention understood.

Sue Nees B.


99/01 -->  From: Mary Young <>
Subject: Re: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

I refer the student for on campus suspension room the following day.
With me being out for accreditation writing about twice a month this
year, It has done wonders in my rowdy after-lunch class.

Mary Young <>


99/01 -->  From: Michael Levine <>
Subject: Re: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

Posted on my syllabus is the consequence for misbehaving for a

an automatic 3 hours detention with me after school-non negotiable. It
seems to have worked so far.

Michael Levine


99/01 -->  From:
Subject: Re: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

In my school, we do not hire substitutes. We teachers act as substitutes
when a fellow teacher is out. So if a teacher who is substituting for me
finds that a student behaves inappropriately, he will deal with it right

Bunny Rubenstein


99/01 -->  From: Madeleine Hiscox <>
Subject: Re: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

In response to Cherice's question: My students know ahead of time that
anytime a sub leaves a student's name for inappropriate behavior that it
will result in an automatic after school detention, no questions asked.
Students will often try to accuse the sub of being unfair, "I wasn't the
only one misbehaving, etc." I explain to them ahead of time that if a
sub has left a name, that person had to stand out. This seems to work
pretty well for me except that there are subs who are reluctant to leave
names. If the kids know this ahead of time, they will take advantage of
the sub, but at least I have offered my sub some leverage.

Madeleine Hiscox


99/01 -->  From: Marianna Ertter <>
Subject: Re: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

>You wrote: Posted on my syllabus is the consequence for misbehaving for
a substitute: an automatic 3 hours detention with me after school-non
negotiable. It seems to have worked so far.

Punishment for the teacher!!!--Don't you think??? Maybe the threat of it
prevents any misbehavior, but knowing mine, I would have one that would
goof off as a test. I don't have any intentions of spending 3 hours
after school with my students.

Marianna Ertter


99/01 -->  From: Kristy Placido <>
Subject: Consequences for students who misbehave for substitutes

My kids know that if their names are left by the sub, they will receive
a phone call home and at least 1 hour of after-school detention. They
also know that the sub's opinion is all I care about even if the sub is
"completely crazy" in the student's opinion. The only way they can
guarantee a good report is by not drawing any attention to themselves

Kristy Placido


99/01 -->  From: "James R. Yoder" <>
Subject: Re: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

Well, I used to be able to say that I have NEVER received a bad report
from a substitute, but last Friday when I attended the AP
Videoconference.  I had four young men who just couldn't resist the
opportunity to misbehave. I always tell my students before-hand that
they are going to have a sub, and that if I find out that they
misbehaved, they will spend time with me after school. The four
wonderful young men got to sit in their assigned seats and do nothing
other than stare at the front board for 20 minutes. (2 Sophomores, 1
Junior, and a Senior.) My Junior said that he couldn't stay because he
had basketball practice, but I assured him that the coach would let him
be late for this time, and I even offered to call the coach and explain
WHY I was keeping him late, but the student didn't think that was
necessary, so he stuck around after school. Hopefully I won't have
anymore problems.

James Yoder


99/01 -->  From: Mimi Lachi <>
Subject: Re: Consequences for Students Who Misbehave for Substitutes?

In the FL department of my school, we have a full time sub. It makes it
easier for the kids to behave if they already know her. Yet, if an
incident happens, I like to have a discussion with the kid and place
him/her in a teaching position for 15 min (they usually give up after 15
min).It is a natural consequence for them, and it helps them realize
that our task is not always as easy as they think it is (especially with
a couple of disruptive students)

Mireille Jones


99/01 -->  From: "John P. Fox" <>
Subject: Re: Consequences for students misbehaving for substitutes

My policy on students misbehaving for subs is very simple. On the lesson
plan I ask the sub to leave the name of any students who misbehave or
refuse to do the assigned work. If I get their name, the detention time
that they normally would have with me for such behavior is doubled.
Since my "base" detention time is two hours, that would mean that they
get four hours total of detention, which can not be used to do homework,
other assignments, etc. Harsh, yes, but so far I haven't had anyone's
name get left for me (and actually I only average about 2 detentions per

It also helps that we only have two subs come in because the students
know them (and IMHO they both do wonderful jobs and deserve more than
the little over $50 per day they receive) and tend to give them a little
more respect. If there are more than two teachers out, other teachers
are assigned to cover the class for half (43 minutes) of their prep
period (coverage is uncompensated and often times distributed
inequitably, but that's another story...), which the admins are allowed
to do according to our contract. This coverage eliminates many of the
potential discipline issues that could develop.

John P. Fox

L. Emergency Lesson Plans for Subs

96/09 -->  From: "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <>
Subject: substitute lesson plans

As a dept. chair for many years, who was often called upon by the
administration to "do something" when a sub didn't show, or a teacher
had an emergency, I know the importance of having something in the way
of emergency plans, that are not unit-specific, on hand. It's nice to
have puzzles, etc., on hand, and most of us do, but if you're in a
school where the Xerox is limited (ah, technology!), etc., it's also
nice to have something that:

1) You don't have to Xerox;
2) Can be an ongoing project in case it's more than one day;
3) That engages the students in some productive learning of culture or
4) That it doesn't matter (and this is a biggie) whether the sub knows
the language or not!
5) That can be used at any level.

Basically, take a look at your textbook. Most texts these days are
replete with illustrations -- realia, photos, etc. What can be done with
them? An example -- the old Churros y Chocolate text/series had a wide
variety of small illustrations; among them, quite a number of stamps
from different countries. The instructions were for the students to make
a stamp" collection" -- (this can be as simple as a list, as elaborate
as an illustrated page) of all the stamps they could find, grouping them
by country. A country's stamps tell a lot about the people and things
that society values (ah, yes, Elvis). For each stamp they were to give
the person/item shown; describe the stamp (simple or elaborate
description, based on their level); how much it cost -- involves
recognizing the monetary units; and any other information you can think
of that is appropriate. Another day could then be spent in the library
finding information about the persons, and telling why they were
probably so honored by their country. Student groups could set up "Who
am I?" quizzes, perhaps in TV game show form, based upon the people.
There are a number of possibilities. More advanced levels can prepare an
oral or written report on one or more people.
This, of course, may not be what your textbook has -- but you get the
idea. (If you like the stamp idea, but your book doesn't have some,
check out a stamp collector's catalog, which has thousands of stamps
illustrated by country -- make a master Xerox of a selection, and go
from there.) But your book surely has tickets, ads, etc. -- collect
tickets to events, tell as much information about the event as possible,
make up a skit based upon two people going to the event, etc.

All books have pictures, and many have people doing something. Have
students select a photo and "become" some of the people in the photo --
what are they saying at the moment the photo was taken? Narration --
tell or write a description of the photo. Obviously at the beginning
levels this is a bit limited, but still do-able. I never cease to be
amazed at the creativity of many kids -- as well as the wild imagination
of some -- in coming up with ideas.

Since many people use the same texts, perhaps some people could post
ideas that you see for particular texts based on activities like these.
What's nice, I think, is that (except for Xeroxing a stamp catalog) it
involves little preparation by the teacher and forces the students to
actually pay attention to the illustrations in the book, which we
presume have some cultural and/or linguistic value.

Marilyn Barrueta


96/09 -->  From: Paul Conley <>
Subject: Re: substitute lesson plans

At my school, every teacher is required to have two days worth of
emergency lesson plans on file with the principal's secretary. This
seems to eliminate the need for last-minute scrambling, especially by
people who have other things they'd rather be doing.

Paul Conley


98/08 -->  From: John Doe <>
Subject: Substitute Material

I'm a first-year high school English I and French I teacher. My campus
requires a folder with pertinent information for substitute teachers.
Material for my English classes is easy, but what activities do you
suggest for days when French classes are covered by a substitute (it's a
VERY slim chance that the substitute will actually know any French)!!


99/01 -->  From: Susan Goldsmith <>
Subject: Substitute Lesson Plans

Do any of you have suggestions for lesson plans for a substitute

Last week I became suddenly sick with the flu in the evening, and I
found myself scrambling for lesson plans for 2 different preps (Spanish
III and IV) for block classes of 100 minutes, knowing the sub would have
no knowledge of foreign languages.

What kind of emergency plans do you usually keep at school? What can
the students do for 100 minutes with a sub?

Susan Goldsmith


99/01 -->  From: "LEPLEY, LINDA" <LEPLEYL@CANON.K12.CO.US>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

When in a panic, I've used the "A Day in...." approach. Students decide
where they want to be, or I give suggestions -- a day in Paris, a day in
the country, a day at the zoo. They then have to prepare a pretty
substantial narration/conversation video. Even though my subs don't
speak French, they all tell me that the students work the entire 90
minutes to produce something of quality that they know I'll be grading.
I've also given them yesterday's newspaper and had them produce a news
video incorporating as much of the news, weather, sports, etc.-- I have
been delighted with the results.

Linda Lepley


99/01 -->  From: Megan Horn <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

I have to miss one day of classes every other week for something in my
district called the Urban Institute (sort of a year long induction
program for new teachers to the district). So when I have spare time
(ha!), I put together packets of practice sheets for my Sp. I/III
classes. I have them do the packets, hand them in, then write dialogues
("dramatizations" from Dime) with partners. It's not the greatest of
lessons, but at least the students are doing something related to my
classes, I don't need a Spanish-speaking sub, and their behavior is
generally fine since I give them so much work to do. It's not much fun,
but at least they look forward to getting their work done because then
they get to work with a partner. I don't check all of the packets--well,
I did the first time, I just give points. Then I review quickly when I
get back and have some of the pairs/groups perform their dramatization
for points.

I try to have the information to complete the assignment on the page

Now I have some of these assignments copied and ready to go just in case
I'm ever sick!

Megan Horn


99/01 -->  From: Allison Flowers <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

The subs I've had lately can't even take roll, let alone supervise an
assignment. I've had the most luck leaving a movie with movie quiz. I
recently tried leaving each child a blank word search puzzle with
instructions to fill in at least 25 vocab words from the current chapter
and highlight them. Then write the English equivalent on a blank sheet
of paper, and finally copy the entire word search to the second blank
puzzle complete with extra letters. When everyone has filled them in,
they exchange unhighlighted puzzles and English word lists. Done
properly, this will take up a full 98 minute block.

Allison (Small) (Shulman) Flowers


99/01 -->  From: "Helen V. Jones" <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

>Do any of you have suggestions for lesson plans for a substitute teacher?

For level III and IV students, I leave a folder with photocopies of a
reading selection and 20 or so questions based on the reading (one
photocopy for each student) in my substitute teacher folder. The
directions are to read the story and answer the questions with complete
sentences on a separate sheet of paper. I usually leave instructions
that the students can work with a partner if they stay on task and work
quietly. Such a reading/writing assignment can fill the block with an
appropriate lesson which a substitute who does not know the language can

Helen V.Jones


99/01 -->  From: "James R. Yoder" <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

When I'm gone for the day, I have several different types of activities
for my students to do. I introduce the activities early in the year so
that when I do have a substitute, my students are trained and know what
to do. Basically, my classes could operate without a substitute, well,
except for my 4th period Spanish 1 class, they're crazy.

One of the best activities I do is give my students sentences to draw. I
always include my students in the sentences. For example, when my 2nd
year class was practicing reflexive verbs, I wrote sentences like:

Jake se pone maquillaje. (Jake puts on make-up.) Matt nunca se pone
desodorante. (Matt never puts on deodorant.)

The kids think it's funny to draw these weird sentences about each
other, when I come back and they comment on the sentences I wrote, I
always tell them that I found them in a book somewhere. I think it lets
them know that I think about them. I always have a sentence about

El Sr. Yoder no se cepilla los dientes. (Mr. Yoder doesn't brush his

They LOVE making fun of me!

I also have given them the assignment to draw pictures and have someone
interpret their drawings. I have had a kid draw a picture of me shaving
my legs, and then another student looks at the picture and says, in
Spanish "El Sr. Yoder se afeita las piernas." (Mr. Yoder shaves his
legs.) They are required to have three other students interpret their

These two assignments can be as long as you want them to be. I also have
some games that they know how to play, and I call up a trustworthy
student and have him/her set the game up and run it. All I need to do is
tell the sub who is responsible for doing what. If you train your
students well, having a sub can be wonderful. In my LONG 2 1/2 year
career, I haven't had a single bad report from a sub.

James Yoder


99/01 -->  From: "J.Williams // J.Snyder" <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

>Do any of you have suggestions for lesson plans for a substitute teacher?

Have the teacher play a tape of a song in the target language where the
words are pretty easy to understand. Give the students a worksheet which
has most, but not all of the words to the song and have them fill in the
blanks. (Cloze exercise). My students usually need 2 or 3 repetitions of
the song in order to do this.

If you have a source of magazines with lots of pictures, and you have
sufficient scissors and glue for the students to share, have the
students work on a picture dictionary. For each word or phrase defined
in their dictionaries, have students supply a picture or drawing, a
definition, a synonym, and use the word in a sentence.

If you have the substitute show a movie, have the students write a
review or a plot summary of that movie.

A reading, in English, about the history or culture of some country
could be prepared, along with a worksheet of questions to be answered
over the reading.

You could prepare a tray of slides of the work of an artist, along with
a script that the substitute would read to introduce the life and times
of the artist. For each slide, have the students write a brief
description of or reaction to the work, in the target language.

With the cooperation of the media specialist, you could take the class
to the library/media center and have them research current events in
selected countries and write a paper describing their findings to be
turned in at the next class period.

When there's a sub in the room, it's a great opportunity for a pop quiz.
It lets the students know that what they do with the sub will really

Janet Snyder


99/01 -->  From: Elma Chapman <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

Generic lesson plans:

Students are to write a complete sentence in the target language using
(x) number of vocab words found at the end of the current chapter.

Review worksheet or cultural worksheet--maybe something you used to use
but don't any more, or something that goes with a different book, but is
close enough that kids can do. Of for a class above first year, have
copies of their final from last year that they can do to show them how
far they've advanced (or how much they've forgotten!).

A puzzle: The kind like "Joe, Tom, Mary, Suzy and Ralph are friends. One
is a baker, one is a bus driver. . . The baker is Suzy's friend. Tom and
Joe don't get along with the bus driver. . ." This would be in the target
language, of course.

A treasure hunt: I get a weekly German newspaper. I have a list of kinds
of articles: the environment, politics, government, fashion, etc. and
each kid gets a newspaper, a pair of scissors and has to find an example
of each kind of article.

Collect proverbs or riddles and have a worksheet of those that can be
pulled out for a sub. They could match the proverb to the English
equivalent, match the beginning of the proverb to the end of the
proverb, pick one or two proverbs and draw an illustration of the
proverb along with the text, make up a dialogue where the last line
would be an appropriate proverb, etc.

It's a lot of work, but once you have a worksheet like that made up,
it's good forever--unless you're absent a lot!

Elma Chapman


99/01 -->  From: Ann Pulley <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

>Do any of you have suggestions for lesson plans for a substitute teacher?

In our department we have what we call "Emergency Plans" that we prepare
for two days of block scheduling (It used to be three days before we
changed to the block schedule).

We have a classroom set of the Amsco workbooks levels I, II and III and
float them around wherever they are needed.

For the true "emergencies" we use the culture sections in English which
are suitable for any level. Otherwise we try to find something that will
reinforce what we are doing.

In the past we have left videos with a cultural or historical theme and
a previously prepared set of questions to accompany the videos. Some
teachers have left graph paper grids and asked the students to make a
crossword puzzle using the vocabulary from the current unit.

In our system we are fortunate to have one substitute who can speak
Spanish and really teach when we are absent. We know that we are
blessed, but we never know whether or not she will be available since
our system is quite large.

Ann Pulley


99/01 -->  From: Susan Ferguson <>
Subject: Re: Substitute Lesson Plans

There probably have been tons of responses to this, but I love James
Yoder's idea. I already do a version of this when I teach reflexive
verbs, and they have to draw or find pictures in magazines to
demonstrate ten reflexive and ten non-reflexive actions during their
day. Once they see my stick figure drawing, they don't feel much
verguenza about their own drawings. They write their captions under each
drawing. We display these in the hall, and the kids love it. We keep
them and use them again with new captions later, when we use the
imperfect and preterite tenses. I've gotten so many good ideas from the
listeros about projects and all the web sites!!! UF!!! Me encantan much.
Anyway, as some of y'all say: mis dos centavos.

Susan Ferguson


M. Real Life and Long-Term Substituting

97/01 -->  From: Irene Moon <>
Subject: Help for my Substitute

Have had a sub for 2 weeks and new one starting Jan 24. They tell me not
to expect to be back until Easter, maybe.

I need some help for sub. Am using Galeria de Arte y Vida (Glencoe) in
Sp. 4 and would like sub to do unit on La Mujer. Do you have suggestions
for Intro, and/or other interesting things kids can do? I wanted to
bridge to movie Evita and pulled some items off internet, bought some
books on Evita and will pull things from there, But I REALLY would
appreciate your ideas, esp if I can just print off for sub. 2 of my Sp
4's also expressed interest in doing something with architecture. I have
some ideas, but would need more esp since sub hasn't taught in a while.
I 'd thought about a mini unit that might inc. looking at acueductos, El
Escorial, A. Gaudi, La Alhambra and a cathedral or two plus a place or 2
in S.A. Like Cuzco, Machuu Pi. Only want to spend about 2-2.5 weeks
kinda of survey. Do you have ideas? references? Activities to suggest?

My Sp 3's will be doing paintings/Sp art (we're O.K.) and Sp legends
which we try to integrate w regions of Sp, geo, bit of history. If you
have activities, ready made, you could email me or send at home: 111
Barkwood Drive, Wadsworth, OH 44281

Sp 2's will be working on reflexives(yeah..see, I haven't totally lost
my sense of humor), Puerto Rico,daily routines w reflexives,Body parts,
environmental issues9reciclar, contaminacion del aire etc. If you have
suggestions I can on to sub, I'll appreciate. WE have a pretty
comprehensive Curriculum guide, but I know I can always improve what
I've done and thanks to many of you. My kids have  had a better teacher
this year.

Abrazos y Gracias

Irene Moon


97/02 -->  From:
Subject: Re: Help for my Substitute

Dear Irene,

I am so sorry that you have been ill. I've been so busy, that I have not
been keeping up with my mail. I will search through my files here at
home this weekend and try to find some "stuff" for you. :-)

One thing you may do with the reflexive is have students outline, write
a rough draft, then a final draft of a video demonstrating the reflexive

I get my students into groups--each one having at least one student with
access to a video camara. They are then to film themselves, friends,
family, etc. performing these actions. Some of them have been soooooo
funny, that I almost cried while laughing. They had so much fun doing
this--I later let them bring popcorn and we saw everyone's video. I also
let students who have not covered the reflexive to watch the video--they
have gotten it very quickly.

If you are doing the imperfect--as a culminating activity--my students
are writing and illustrating Fairy Tale Books. They will also be
required to make visuals to be used on a flaanel board. I have already
spoken to the Elementary School Principal. He will arrange the time and
space so that my students can read and perform their Fairy Tales to the
1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders!!!! My principal has allowed me to use this as
a Field Trip!! As an added feature I will scan the illustration for the
cover and print it on card stock. What do you think about having the
kids create a mini coloring book of their tales--to give to the

Nilsa Sotomayor


98/01 -->  From: "Dr. Paul Garcia" <>
Subject: Help for a Sub due to Illness, Please

Hi Fellow listeros, I have a major favor--it seems to have been my month
for requesting assistance, I apologize. This is a serious and possibly
protracted request. I need help to prepare my classes for one or two
subs for the next 4-6 weeks.

On Wednesday evening, at about 10 p.m., minding my own business and
getting ready for sleep, I had some pains which in fewer than 15 minutes
put me on the ER table at the hospital where after a while it became
apparent to the good folks that I was having a heart attack.

(I'll be 54 on 2/5, eat healthy, exercise regularly, don't smoke, drink
very little, etc., by the way, as a point for you folks, it was my
family history that caught up with me--parents and grandparents died of
heart attacks.)

Anyway, here's the problem: after my stint as FL Supv., I have now been
teaching. I teach German and Spanish, Levels I-IV (yes, that's still a
lot of stress, I know).

I'm to be on the sidelines away from school from 4-6 weeks, let's say
until March 2.

I have a great sub who speaks no languages other than English and a
district in crisis where a sub who could do my work does not exist.

What materials, suggestions, projects, etc., might you offer as your
advice? I don't want the kids to suffer workbook-itis or worksheet-itis.

We're on block schedule (A/B/A/B), which means 90 minutes every other
day, so there are about 15-18 sessions that I will miss.

I would greatly appreciate your suggestions; technology is available,
etc., and this is not the time that I want to be marking loads of papers
every day--that's not my cardiologist's idea of rest.

Think about this, please; if you can't help, fine. If you can, you can
email me (it seems like 250 messages were posted since 1/21!), and, if
you think that what you've got is faxable, the fax at school is
816-418-2300, friends will pick up. My home address, where I'm to be
except for mandatory outings to the rehab unit beginning 2/3/98, is as

5530 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64113-1258

I know that this is a kind of goofy request (such as, well, why don't
you ask people in your district, you hired most of them! or, just give
them a workbook, if you had died --which obviously could have happened,
what the hell would have happened), but while lying in bed at the
hospital this request also seemed like a good idea. Maybe it was the
morphine and--get this, folks, there's a medicine that I have not known
about--it is called "Vedsed" or some such, it keeps you conscious and
you know about the pain, is an "AMNESIAC" medicine--you don't
remember you hurt when they do the angioplasty.....

Take care, and have a super superbowl weekend (about to start watching
tennis on the sidelines for a while....)

Best wishes and vielen Dank im voraus, gracias de antemano!

Paul Garcia


98/01 -->  From: wmrose <>
Subject: Re: Help for a Sub due to Illness, Please

I hope you are feeling much better!! I was just in the hospital for two
days because of my strange heartbeats. (Diagnosis: stress) I know you
must be bored. I can really empathize
One idea: I don't know what textbook you use, or if you use one, but if
you tell us the textbook and where you are at each level, there may be
some of us at the same place or covering the same topics, and we could
e-mail you some plans over the next few weeks.
I also remembered seeing a booklet of Substitute lesson plans in a
catalog. I know that wouldn't help for such a long period, but it could
possibly be of help.
Another idea: I just used a thematic approach and had students in all
levels work various activities about Martin Luther King. Spanish I
students wrote their dream of what is going to happen (voy, vas...),
Spanish II told what will happen (future Todo el mundo vivir· en
paz...), Spanish III told what they hope may happen (subjunctive). They
put them on clouds that we've put on the wall. That was just one
activity. I'm not sure that you could do many themes without a lot of
preparation on your part, but you could use one general idea and design
more specific activities for each level.
I'll keep thinking. I know there are other Listeros out there who are
also ready to help out. You really need to get the rest that your
doctors prescribe.

Chris Rose


98/01 -->  From: "Cecelia D. Stevens" <>
Subject: Re: Help for a Sub due to Illness, Please

Sorry about your dilemma and hope that you have a speedy recovery! One
of my former students and I were discussing, just last week, my
suggestion to you for your Spanish 3 & 4 classes. (This former student
teaches Algebra in my room!) Have them make up a script for a video.
This might sound silly, but it is a good project, and my former student
was reminding me of how much fun it was when his Spanish 3 class did it.
I used the same format for 3 years running, until I didn't have the
class in my schedule, with different scripts and levels of success for
the students.
The most successful video was a newscast. The students (5) divided the
30-minute broadcast into news, sports, weather, etc., and wrote their
own scripts. They also included ads--some were quite funny! They had 3
drafts which I corrected prior to the actual filming. Another group
wrote a murder mystery, part of which took place on a boat! The third
was a fashion/food show (quite funky). We were lucky in our case to live
in an area with easy access to a port and friends with boats, an airport
and friend with a plane we could borrow 1 mile from school, and the
local TV station that allowed us to tape on their premises. (We also had
to contact the local police because we filmed the "kidnapping" of the
"president" off the local golf course.)
It took a lot of time to plan the scripts, divide tasks among the
groups, and to write each draft so that it could be submitted to me on a
Your case might be different, but I 'm sure that if you like the idea,
the students could spend a good bit of time doing research and writing.
After all, my students are still thinking about their "film". Another
one of my former students now works for CNN in Atlanta and has told me
that he wants to refilm his class's project to make it more
professional-looking. I'd say that that is good student confirmation of
a project.
If your school has access to the Internet, they could also do some kind
of project using their computer skills. Our school is participating in
what they call our "Bridge" project because we are in the process of
building a new suspension bridge over our main inner harbor access. My
classes in Spanish and French will spend next week searching the Web for
bridges in Spanish or French countries, and will have to do their
research using the foreign language. This is a rather simple project,
but it could be expanded.
Sorry for the length, but hope that the suggestions might work. You
could correct rough drafts wherever and whenever your doctor allows.
Wish I could think of something for the lower levels--they're tough!
Good luck

Cece Stevens


98/01 -->  From: Deborah Blaz <>
Subject: Re: Help for a Sub due to Illness, Please

-How about that extended research project someone told about last summer
(check archives ?).
The students have to prepare a 'book" on a region of Spain, Central or
South America (or a city in Germany ??) telling about a trip taken. For
each place visited, they had to say what they saw, ate, bought, who they
met and what they talked about....type of included,
etc. It sounded like a really neat project.

- Are you familiar with a technique called Jigsaw? In it, for a new
chapter, students become "experts" on a portion of the chapter, first
learning it themselves, then teaching it to the other students,
preparing practice sheets and quizzes for their students. I have
successfully done this with first-year students, even. If you want more
info on this, let me know. Jigsaw would help them continue in the text
when the sub doesn't speak Spanish or German. However, I'd counsel
sessions for the class as a whole with the tapes associated with the
text, to correct pronunciation !! Otherwise you'll have some really
tough problems to correct when you return.
The other benefit of Jigsaw is the kids would correct the papers (though
I usually pick them up to look them over....)

I'll see if I can think of anything else. Hang in there and think
healing thoughts !! Gezundheit !!

Debbie Blaz


98/01 -->  From: Dee Friel <>
Subject: Re: Help for a Sub due to Illness, Please

Dear Paul,

I am so sorry to hear about your health! If there is something that you
think I could do for you, please let me know. I know that out here in
po-dunk-ville, there probably isn't much, but I would be glad to come by
some weekend and run errands, do laundry, whatever.

I have some suggestions for your German classes. I haven't talked to my
niece(-in-law, if that is a word), who is a native German, but I think
your students could e-mail her and ask her questions in German, about
Germany, food, culture, music, etc. Her name is Ellen Friel and her
e-mail address is

She and my nephew John live in Warrensburg, where he attends college at
CMSU and works about 40 hours per week at a night job. Ellen is a stay
at home mom. At home, she speaks mostly German with John who had 4 years
in high school. With their baby Jonah, she speaks both German and
English and hopes to bring him up bilingually. Students might have
questions about that.

Another idea for both Spanish and German students is to design a web
page with links to various sites of interest for Spanish/German
students. I know that isn't working much with the language, but if they
have to preview each site and write up a little synopsis (in the target
language), it might be helpful.

Do the students have access to Spanish/German language TV programs?
Could they do something with that?

Here are some other, quick, random ideas: 1. Fashion show in target
language (video tape that whole thing) -- work with a partner, each
coordinates his own outfit, partner reads description in target language

2. Design a commercial in target language for a product. Make a printed
(like for newspaper), and audio ad (one for radio, one for TV).
Tape/record the audios.

3. Plan a trip through a target-language country. Include # days,
airfare/airline, budget, hotels to stay in, places to visit (if
possible, include fees), food/meals, various cities (at least 3), etc.
With this students can produce (with the computer) a tri-fold brochure
about the trip that includes color pictures (if you have a color
printer), do a journal entry for each day as though he has taken the
trip, present a power point presentation about the trip, design a
commercial, etc. Students could even have a discussion (like 3 guests on
Oprah or Letterman or whatever) telling why their trip is better than
trip B or C, etc. Many computer related activities here!

4. Research various topics (country, customs, holidays and ways they are
celebrated, foods, sports) or even specifics for info (yerba mate).

5. Have students design and prepare games/learning centers using the
target language then they can utilize these in class. Race through
Germany (a geography/culture/foods/etc. game), prepare a listening
activity for a listening center, etc. I will send you a copy of the
learning centers stuff that Astrid and I did several years ago. It might
give you some ideas.

Hope you get better VERY soon! If there is anything I can do, let me

Best Wishes for a speedy recovery,

Dee Friel


98/01 --> From: Larry Kaatz <>
Subject: Re: Help for a Sub due to Illness, Please

Dr. Paul Garcia..

I think the first thing you should do is concentrate on getting well.
You have contributed so much to the foreign language teaching
profession, that we don't want to see you permanently disabled. True,
your kids right now may lose a bit by your absence, but let me assure
you that having been in your class for at least part of the year puts
them in a better position than many students across the country who have
had their teachers full-time all year. You certainly don't need to be
loading yourself down with a lot of grading. I just retired, so my
materials are in storage, but I could find some lessons I put together
to go with several good movies. I will go to the storage place tomorros
and see if I can come up with some faxable stuff. Hang in there and get

Pam Kaatz


99/01 -->  From: <>
Subject: Help with substitute plans

I have had the great misfortune to become seriously ill with God knows
what.  My problem is that my substitute does not know a lick of Spanish,
although she is a fabulous teacher. I teach Spanish 2, Spanish 3, and
AP. I was wondering if anyone has ever been in this type of situation
and could advise me on what to do. I want the students to continue
learning. They are upset enough as it is thinking I'm going to die
although they've been told it's not a life threatening illness. But to
have to teach themselves on top of that is, I think, unreasonable

I asked to be loaned a video camera to tape lessons, but the
administrative team vetoed the idea because I'm supposed to be resting
and remain calm. If they only knew how stressful worrying about my
students' learning was, they'd give me the blasted camera. Anyway, I've
covered the AP class by giving them a long term research project and
presentation to be made upon my return (which could be video taped if
that's going to be a while).

I'm at a loss what to do with my level 2 and level 3. Level two is just
beginning direct objects, indirect objects, and double objects. Level 3
is just starting the subjunctive (oh, yeah!). I love teaching both those
topics and think I could make up some really good video-taped lessons,
but I'm not being given that option. I would appreciate any ideas
anybody could toss my way. My email is and thanks
in advance!

Billie-Renee Knight


99/01 -->  From: Josy McGinn <>
Subject: Re: Help with substitute plans

Gee, what a bummer. I hope you will be well soon. Would it be possible
to use the AP students to teach the other courses, with the sub in the
room to help with discipline? Perhaps they could work in teams to
develop material? Since nothing forces you to know something as having
to explain it,the AP students might even profit from the experience

Good luck,
Josy McGinn


99/01 -->  From: Elaine Winer <>
Subject: Re: Help with substitute plans

How about a movie. I just saw Julio y su Angel and it would be
wonderful for both Spanish 2 and 3. Students could view it with
subtitles and look for grammar items, next day cover TV subtitles and
listen. It could easily take several weeks and a lot could be gotten
from it. Hope all is well.

Elaine Winer


N. How Substitute Teachers Are Regarded

99/01 -->  From: Richard Lee <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

>I am curious as to why teachers have such a negative attitude about
substitute teachers. They are providing a service to you when you cannot
be there so why are they regarded with such disdain?

I don't believe that all teachers have this feeling. There may be some
criticism of the fact that often a substitute can not be found who is
qualified in a particular area, but in the end, substitutes have an
extremely difficult job because of the transitory nature of their
contact with the class (less clout because the kids know that he/she
will not be there for an extended time). I think that many of us
appreciate the service that they perform and recognize the limitations
under which they labor. I wouldn't want to do the job and I certainly
feel that they are underpaid, and perhaps the contribution which they
make is not properly valued by the system. With some classes, just
keeping the situation from deteriorating into chaos and pandemonium is a
real challenge, and the substitute has to do this without many of the
resources that the regular teacher has at his disposal. Perhaps they do
merit greater recognition and a greater demonstration of gratitude for
what they do.

Richard Lee


99/01 -->  From: Amira Benedict <>
Subject: Re: Substitutes

Richard, you have got it right. I was born in South America, lived there
until I was 12. My foster parents made sure I kept up with my Spanish.
To make a long story short I am fluent in both English and Spanish. In
97 I received my BA in Spanish in KS. This past summer we moved to AZ.
My husband is retired and I am a Sub in both the K-8 and High School. At
the high school there are 2 Spanish teachers who teach 5 blocks of
Spanish with few minutes for lunch and that's it. I love substituting
for them.

One day, one class which according to one of the teachers had a few
problem students lived up to the warning. Next time I subbed I follow
the lesson plan, but there still was going to be time left so I gave
them another assignment and offered extra points for doing both
assignments. I monitored their work etc. When I left the teacher a note
with what I had covered and the extra assignment I asked for her support
in carrying it through. She supported me and also made the students
aware of the discipline problems on my first day.

Whenever I go back and sub in that class and the students are amazingly
well behaved now. They know I expect respect or I send them to office
with work to do. It's very important that the regular teacher let the
students know that she expects the students to behave well and respect
the sub. As some of you teachers have said kids have ears and they know
if the sub is to be respected and expected to be by the regular teacher.
It really helps.

In the two districts I sub I am backed by the teachers if I need to send
someone in to the office. I love substituting, it's challenging to say
the least, but you can turn down the jobs if you don't want to work on
certain days. I entered the school of education and don't lack that many
more hours to be certified. At this time in life I like where I am. I
work part time, I am in teaching, with kids. I recommend it for those
teachers that don't want to teach full-time. I keep very busy. As busy as
I want to be. Most of the time I can work 4 days a week. I am fortunate
to be in such school districts. I am appreciated. Sorry this turned out
to be so looooooong.

Amira Benedict


O. Sub Help on the Web

Just one resource to list here now, but it’s a winner!

99/01 -->  From: Paul Lanciaux <>
Subject: Web site for subs

Here's a site that might be worth checking out if you are (or know of)
an available substitute teacher:

In our school system, we have enough trouble finding PERMANENT teachers
who have a degree in foreign language education, ... SUBS with world
language experience? ... a very rare specimen!

Paul Lanciaux


99/01 -->  From: Amira Benedict <>
Subject: Re: Web site for subs

Thank you very much for the URL for the substitute page. I clicked on it
and it's wonderful.

Amira Benedict


P. My Plan For Substitute Teachers

I always try to get this intro for substitute teachers on one side of a
sheet of paper, because that makes it easier to refer to a particular
item. I hope they bring their glasses with them, because the print size
is tiny.

I Xerox a dozen or so at a time and keep a supply at home as well as at
school. On days that I feel like I’m gonna die, I write up plans on the
back of one sheet (if it will fit), then scoot on up to school, where I
Xerox two copies of the plans. That way I can leave two copies for the
sub and hang on to one myself.  --- Sometimes I fudge and ask a
neighboring teacher to take in the plans, but that’s when I just know
I’m about to croak.

And I just don’t let myself forget to write a fervent “thanks” at the
end of the plans

Fairmont High School       Date:

Substituting for Lee Risley in German and Social Studies

    (Room 329, West Unit)

1. Here in this folder you should find an up-to-date homeroom seating
chart. The attendance sheet  (blue folder) is to be found in my homeroom
mailbox in the outer office here in West Unit located next to the door
in the room behind the copy machines. Just circle the appropriate U for
anyone absent. Anything for the homeroom kids will be placed in this
mail box and should be passed along to them. Someone will be along to
pick up the blue folder shortly after morning announcements first period
begin -- just place it on the chair I use to prop open the door every
day. Anything the kids give you to turn in to the office can be placed
in this blue folder, too.

2. This folder for substitute teachers should contain up-to-date seating
charts for all my classes; sorry if they are a bit messy. Please, leave
them in the folder when you return it to the West Unit office at the end
of the school day. You will find my assertive discipline plan here.
(Potential behavior problems are noted with * on the seating charts. So
far only one student has earned a double star rating.)

3. You’ll find a copy of each textbook on my desk. Student disciplinary
forms are located in the top right drawer of my desk. Chalk is there,
too. You’ll notice that I have the classroom divided into two sections.
This has caused minimal problems and helps deal with 30-some desks in
one room. (The teacher can be much closer to individual students.) Our
pencil sharpener is located on the outside end of the bookcase and it’s
really hard to get to, but the kids manage.

4. I’ve got five pretty good classes of mostly 9th graders and a fine
small group of seniors (5th period). On most days all seven periods are
50 minutes long with 6 minutes between classes. This is called schedule
“A”; it is posted on the wall near the door. Require tardy students to
sign in on a paper.

5. During 1st period you will receive an abbreviated absence list with
the reported absentees from my 1st period class marked. Your task here
is to check this against the kids actually absent from 1st period. If it
matches, just put the date and homeroom number on one section of the
pink sheet (center desk drawer) and mark "ok." If there is any
discrepancy (someone present who is marked as absent), write that
person’s name on the pink sheet. Just leave the pink sheet on a corner
of the desk and a student aide will pick it up 2nd period.

 0.Advisory (homeroom) 4.World History
 1.World History  5.Future Studies (Lunch runs from 12:18 to12:48)
 2.Preparation period  6.German I
 3.World History  7.German I

6. If something special is going on, and an alternate schedule is in use
for the day, you will find it printed on or after pages 46 in the blue
teacher manual located in the bottom right drawer of my disk. The
appropriate lunch period of room 329 is printer there also.

I hope the plans I have furnished work reasonably well for you and the
students. I generally try to keep them simple for days when I’m going to
be absent. If you care to jazz them up, indulge yourself -- but I would
like the students to spend the hour profitably vis-a-vis social studies
and German.

      Hope you have a good day in my classes!

       Lee Risley

         Today’s work is on the
         reverse of this sheet or
         on attached sheets.

  Although some contributions have been summarized into comments, there are 135 contributors on this topic.
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