Thursday, August 16, 2012

Subs, Never Fear... Back to School Is Here

Or is coming soon. It can be a really long summer when you are a sub, and there is no income... only outcome. But, don't worry! Classrooms will soon be (or possibly already are) humming. And with that humming comes the need for subs.


I used to think back-to-school time would be slow for subs. But that is not necessarily the case. While I have never met a teacher who really wants to be out as school starts (at least seriously... lots joke about it), those unforeseen absences have no idea that it is just the start of school. Emergencies don't know teachers are trying their best to build relationships with students, establish procedures and routines, and overcome the summer slide so they can get to work as quickly as possible helping those students grow, learn, and reach this year's potential.

So, teachers, make sure your emergency sub plans are ready and that a teammate knows where they are. And, be ready as a sub! One year I even got a call for the first day of school! And this year I have already been asked to cover a day in the first week of school even though school doesn't even start for my district until August 27.

If you are an established sub, just make sure you have done what your district requires to renew your subbing status.

Check your wardrobe. If you are like me, your weight may not have stayed the same over the summer, so double check that you have professional, school-appropriate clothing ready that fits.

If you are a new sub or a sub wanting to expand your schools or jobs, then you may want to print up some business cards and visit your target schools. Check in at the office to see if they will distribute them for you, or better yet, ask if you could visit classrooms to introduce yourself to teachers. If a teacher has met you and has your business card, they will be much more likely to call on you.

Finally, make sure you have your sub bag ready with all your necessities. You can see what I normally take in my sub bag in this post. One thing I am going to add this year is a pencil sharpener. One of my biggest challenges each day is students' broken pencils. And it seems that every classroom I am in has a pencil sharpener that doesn't work. I broke down last year and bought a $70 electric sharpener from an office supply store. That works great when I have long-term jobs (although it is not quiet by any means), but there is no way I can haul "the big mama pencil sharpener" on a daily basis. I have found one that is small enough to be portable for a sub to tote, works great, and is so much cheaper than those other fancy sharpeners! You may have seen it on other blogs because lots of teachers love it.


It's the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener. It sets up easily, although it took me a minute to figure out how to set it up. But you don't even have to set it with the provided clamp. Because of the nifty pull-out, pencil-holding contraption, you don't even need to hold the pencil while it sharpens. You can use that hand to hold the sharpener steady while turning the handle with the other. And, let me tell you, it sharpens the pencils perfectly! None of that caddywampus, one-sided sharpening like so many others do. It even comes in a sturdy, reuseable plastic box that makes it easy to transport without making a mess.

It's not totally silent, but it is one of the quietest sharpeners I've ever heard. And I know you've been in the middle of teaching and heard that annoying whir or grinding or traditional pencil sharpeners. I think it's possible for a student to sharpen a pencil during a lesson and not being overly distracting with this one!

It would be nice if it came with instructions, but like I said, it wasn't terribly hard to figure out. One other possible downside is that there is only a one-size hole for the pencils. So, if you sub in classrooms where they use the thicker chunky pencils, this wouldn't work.

But overall, I feel this sharpener is definitely worth the money. I will most certainly be carrying mine every day that I sub since the pencil issue is a huge pet peeve of mine. There's one subbing problem easily solved!

1 comment:

  1. I'll be carrying my penicl sharpener too! And my bag is already packed and loaded though school doesn't start for 2 more weeks. I've also subbed the first day of school, crazy!
    Journey of a Substitute Teacher

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