“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
- Thomas Elva Edison
I’ve had a few posts, where I’ve complained about the quality of the plans or lack thereof. This is not one of those posts. Last Monday I worked for the third time for a Biology Teacher who always leaves me flawless plans.
When I checked the office mailbox, there was the familiar folder, entitled, “Sub Plans”. On the left side, was a letter from the teacher. On the right, were all the materials I would need.
I reached the classroom from the adjoining one because (of course) the door was locked. On the board, as usual, all of the instructions, almost word for word from my letter, were left for the students. All I had to write was my name. Both desks had copies of the letter that was in my folder.
Here’s the letter (Note: it was a planned absence and she’s very pregnant):
Monday, February 8th
Thanks for filling in for me. I teach AP Biology periods 1, 2, and 4.
Please reassure students that I will be back in class tomorrow.
1) Students can hand in their transpiration lab packets and extra credit objectives into the IN basket.
2) Please administer this test.
- Blue side of scantron should be used
- Remind them to use the restroom BEFORE the test begins; no bathroom breaks or other trips out of the room are allowed while they are taking the test. Once they hand it in, they can go.
- They can sit anywhere, but there should be no talking, use of notes/book, or sharing of answers.
The test is no times…they may take as long as they need. As it is a short test, I do not expect most students to need more than 20 or 30 minutes. The room should remain quiet until all tests are handed in.
3) Please collect scantrons AND test questions (no test credit if test questions are missing)- remind them to put their name on BOTH. Please save these for me in the sub folder and return to my mailbox or leave on my desk at the end of the day.
4) Students can have free study time after the test. Possible options:
- Objectives, if they have not done them
- Get on a computer and research their plant topic (5 computers in classroom; could send 2 additional students to the library and a couple more to the computer labs) or start constructing their powerpoint
- Start reviewing labs 2-5 using the lab study packet
- Other classwork
I reopened the folder. Inside was a pile of scantrons fastened by paperclip; underneath, the tests secured in a paperclip; below that, lab study packets held together by a paperclip; and just under those packets were hall passes.
It was all so organized, with no time without students having something to do; it almost brought a tear to my eye.
Now I know that each time I’ve subbed for this teacher, she’s planned her absence. When a teacher wakes up at 6:00am with a fever, this isn’t always possible. But even when the teacher has been vomiting all night, an e-mailed plan that’s as detailed as possible goes a LLLLOOOOONNNNGGGG way in making sure that the day goes smoothly.
If I don’t know where to look for materials, that homework needs to get collected, what to direct students to work on when students are done… Let’s just say, if I appear disorganized, the students pick up on that, and it’s more likely that there will be DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS. And if I’m not sure what to do, then I’m probably not going to do it right. But I doubt the teacher thinks about the little direction I received, and will be more likely to complain about what I didn’t do. And I won’t be there the next day to set the record straight.
I have tricks up my sleeve (handouts, games), but on the high school level, it’s harder to have appropriate alternatives. Students know when the work isn’t closely related to what they’re doing in class. If they think it’s busy work, they won’t do it.
So I appreciate this dream absent teacher and her dream classes.
*This is the post from last week when I used these plans. At the bottom of this post, I give links to other times I’ve subbed for this teacher: