The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.


Today was, hopefully, the last time this year that I will be gone for an extended period of time. I had my final meeting with the Literacy Across Content Areas inquiry group. I called to report the planned professional leave and requested one of my two “go-to” subs that have worked with my class on a regular basis. When I initially made sub plans, I did so with the hope that I would have one or the other.

Unfortunately, it turned out that neither was available, and the sub who was assigned was one I had not worked with in the past, nor did I know very well. So I had to change my plans somewhat.

I remember having substitute teachers as a kid. They were usually days where little work was done and most of the day was spent watching vaguely educational movies and playing outside for extended periods of time. Those days are gone, though. As those who have read this blog since it was “Adventures in Substituting” know, substitutes are expected to be teachers hired by the districts in which they work to teach when regular classroom teachers are unable to be in the room, whether for professional, personal, or sick leave. Of course, not all substitute teachers can be as awesome as I was. (No, really, I am certifiably awesome.)

Because I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect of my substitute teacher this afternoon, I reverted to the old-school stand-by: movies. But I didn’t select ones that were vaguely educational. Instead, I selected ones that were most definitely educational. I had two short science videos about electricity and magnetism, which is what we are studying for our last science unit, and another about Abraham Lincoln and New Salem, which is an important part of our fourth grade social studies standards.

When I came back to the school at the end of the day, I was pleased to see that my room was still in one piece, there were no scorch marks on the floor or walls, no students or teachers duct-taped to a chair, and there was a pile of students’ notes from each of the videos. It seems that the videos worked out, even if they weren’t my most preferred option for having a substitute teacher with my class.

(And no, I don’t ever expect to find my room on fire or people duct-taped to chairs. It is just an irrational fear that I have.)


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