Friday, February 26, 2016
I only had to leave 2 weeks and I fully trusted Katie with my students, as she has a music degree and seems very organized as well as receptive to my teaching style. I do know that others have to write plans for their entire leave but hopefully this post can at least help you get started with a few tips!
-Write them early! I had to finish writing plans the week after Henry was born because I wasn't finished. I had one week done, thank goodness, but still had to write the 2nd week. Everyone had been telling me to get them done but I didn't think Henry would decide to come at 38 weeks and thought I had plenty of time!
-Make your plans as similar to the way you teach as possible while still leaving room for your sub to make them their own. This can help ease the transition for students. I was also able to use a combination of the plans I left for Katie my first week back to see where kids were and then I didn't have to worry as much about finding time at home to plan for my 1st week back- I just had to adjust what I had already written. This made my first week back in my classroom much less stressful.
-Give time limits for each activity as a guide, but also make it clear that timing is flexible. Especially the first week, when Katie was introducing herself, outlining her expectations, etc. I aired on the side of over-planning and figured whatever she didn't get to in the first 2 weeks she could use later!
-Link all needed files directly to the plans document. Because I was leaving Katie my school computer I was able to link SMARTboard games, youtube videos of dances, etc. directly into my plans so she didn't have to go searching through my computer (though I did leave an explanation of how to navigate my folders as well).
-Be very clear about what students know and what they need to know so that your sequence and year plan can stay as close to on track as possible. I made sure to always mention what we were calling rhythm patterns and unknown solfa in every place possible in the plans as a reminder.
-Leave a lot of easy review games to get the sub started. This way students can get used to the sub, but the sub can get a feel for what my students knew and how successful they would be with each concept at the same time. SMARTboard games or matching games (like Stacks Of Love or Do You Wanna Build A Snowman from my TPT Store) are a great way for the substitute to informally assess the students. Some concepts had just been presented a week or two before I left because baby boy came early so the review games gave her an opportunity to see what aspects of these concepts really needed to be worked on. They can branch off as they learn more about your students and use their own musical background to help. I am hoping to learn a few new songs when I return.
-Leave information on where things are located directly in the plans so your substitute doesn't have to search all over the room!
-Give access to all your favorite lesson planning materials. I made sure that all my favorite books- like 150 American Folk Songs, American Methodology, my Susan Brumfield and Jill Trinka books, Game Plan and more- were all at school so Katie could use them as needed.
One final tip with your plans- be okay with letting go. It is hard for a lot of us music teachers to let go of our classes and be gone for 2 months- worrying about the pacing of the curriculum, etc. While I was in contact with Katie my whole leave, I also had to just let her teach (and she did great)!
She was able to focus on what she is really good at teaching, like instruments of the orchestra, rhythms, and vocab and my students did not suffer one bit from her different teaching style. My students had so much fun with her and are always really excited when she is subbing in the building for another teacher! If nothing else, you want students to LOVE music so that when you come back they are still excited about learning to read, write, play and move- and finding JOY in it all!
I hope these tips help!