October 21, 2014

Accountability with a Subsitute

Now that I'm back on this day-to-day subbing thing, I've been keeping my eye out for tips and tricks to share with you guys from the many classrooms I visit.

Those of you who teach in middle and high school settings (okay... this probably applies to some upper elementary students too) understand the frustration of leaving work with a sub only to return and find that there was little accountability for your students. Nothing is more annoying than spending all that time putting together sub plans and return to a class full of students who didn't complete them.

Sometimes, this is because you get a bad substitute who doesn't really manage the classroom, but other times this is simply because your students see a sub and decide they're taking the day off from work. When I was out for a week with a double ear-infection, I was SO DISAPPOINTED to learn that my students literally did NOTHING the entire time I was gone.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who's been there!

A science teacher I've subbed for a couple time recently uses a classroom management strategy that I think is pretty fail-proof. It requires very little work from the substitute and holds students accountable for the work they're supposed to complete in your absence.

He simply breaks the assignment (usually reading independently and taking guided notes) into sections. As students finish each section, they come check in with me (the sub). I simply initialed the completed page with a highlighter and then gave them an answer key to check their work. Then, I gave them the next part of the assignment.

The greatest part is that the classroom teacher is able to see how far students got based on the substitute initials. This could easily translate into classroom points for participation if you use such things in your gradebook.

Because of this accountability factor, I've noticed that students in this classroom are much more likely to work productively than in similar classrooms where they don't have this check-in. Of course, the same idea applies for any assignment that is submitted at the end of class, but this also relieves your substitute of having to collect any papers from students and reduces the risk of papers being lost.

Or... you can just do this...

Happy teaching! :)


  1. I appreciate your ideas because I definitely have the problem of nothing being done when I am absent! I will seriously consider these for next week when I must take a 1/2 day. Thanks!


  2. I don't usually have this problem with my subs, but I think I'll use your idea of "checking-in" with my math class. I have a few students who could benefit from "chunking" the work & feeling successful when they finish a bit at a time. I LOVE the "hidden quiz" idea, too!