Lesson Idea: Origami Bookmarks

Looking for a quick craft project for your class? Personal Creations has created printable templates for making simple origami bookmarks! These little bookmarks are so much fun to make –– they’re also a great way to get kids excited about reading!

With 8 different templates to choose from, there’s an origami bookmark for readers of all ages! Whether you have a superhero-in-training or a classroom full of animal lovers, these bookmarks make the perfect project for substitute teachers, moms, and kids!

For more information on how SubSidekick can help you acheive success as a substitute teacher, please contact us!

Should Substitute Teachers Get Training From The NAEA?

Education in visual arts such as pottery and painting are integral to student growth. It expands the human potential and promotes understanding across cultural divides. And I am not the only one saying this. It is the position of the National Arts Education Association. So, as a substitute teacher, should you check out this organization? Consider the following.

What Is It?

The National Arts Education Association was formed as an advocacy group for visual arts education. The group was created by teachers of the visual arts and its membership is formed of art educators. And they include all types of visual arts educators, from the preschool teacher using finger paints to the university professor teaching theater arts. They are also open to researchers and scholars in the field of arts education and students looking to become art teachers. So long as you are in the territorial US and have something to do teaching the visual arts, this is your professional organization. The organization works hard to ensure that great teachers bring high-quality art education to anyone who wants it. They provide support people in the field through training, networking opportunities, and keeping art education standards high.


The most obvious benefit of getting training by the NAEA in visual arts teaching is that you will expand the number of jobs you will be eligible for. Teaching visual arts can be one of the most rewarding gigs around, and principals will prefer substitutes with specific training in the arts. Some states have mandatory standards that art education for pre-K through high school has to meet, and there is a national standard for art education that is voluntary but influential. Being able to identify these standards and how you achieve them in your work makes you more attractive for teaching positions that involve the visual arts. The NAEA also provides mentoring opportunities, art education conferences, and peer-reviewed magazine articles about pedagogical approaches to that end.

There are more holistic benefits though. You can bring the specific approaches learned in their virtual and face-to-face training to other classes and maybe, when you teach at an elementary class with some free time, add some new art projects to their day. As a substitute teacher, you know that learning can be extrapolated into many fields and it is always good to know more.

Members of the NAEA have other benefits of a practical nature, too. They get free one-time large printings of NAEA publications for school-related functions.

And while you are expanding your professional capabilities, feel free to contact us. We help substitute teachers find positions and grow as teachers.

Bell to Bell: Best Practices for Managing Time in the Classroom

Whether you take over a classroom for a day or for the long haul, your best bet at a rewarding experience is making sure that your time management is on point; keeping these tips in mind will help you make it from morning bell until afternoon dismissal without a hitch!

1. Show up early. You want to arrive at your post at least an hour before the students. This may sound excessive but copy machines break, staff have morning meetings, or you might arrive at a classroom only to find that the teacher did not leave any sort of plan for you and now you have to figure out what to do with your students all day! By arriving early instead of showing up right before the bell, you build in time for yourself to have some coffee, prep any handouts for the kids, and get yourself situated so that you are ready to welcome your class and have a great day- you’ve got this! 

2. Always, always, always over-plan! As a general rule of thumb, you should always have more for your students to do than you think you will need. If you’re substituting, chances are that the classroom teacher will have left you some sort of sub plan- but keep in mind that these plans are not going to be super in-depth and you may find yourself with more time than prepared activity. Get through the work as requested, but come armed with back up! Even if you don’t end up needing it, the extra time you put in up front will help you avoid a room full of students staring at you with nothing to do and 20 minutes left in the period! If you’re looking for ideas of fun and enriching activities, check this page from TeacherVision out to get you started!

3. Break your time up into short increments. Students get distracted- you’ll get their best attention by breaking up the class period into chunks of no more than 20 minutes a piece. This way, you can tier activities that that incorporate group work, individual assignments, and full class discussions and you can better guarantee that they will remain focused instead of asking that they put an entire hour into one activity that may not even strike a chord with all the varied types of learners in your room! As explained by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching Remember, it is important to remember that when planning your classroom assessments, you want to touch on multiple levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy in order to successfully engage your classroom.

4. Organize your space to help you organize your time. Have a place for everything to help ensure that by the end of the day you aren’t facing a room that it is total ruins. Establish a spot to collect student work, have place for the kids to return borrowed supplies; hold the class accountable by allowing them two minutes to clean up before dismissal. By working as a team with your students and by establishing a system of organization, you do the classroom teacher a favor by leaving everything where they can clearly find it upon their return and you do yourself a favor because if you stay on top of things during the day, you get to go home with no added work or clean up at the end of the school day instead of having to stay even five minutes late! 

5. Establish rules with your students. Don’t waste time disciplining- make your expectations well known and clear from the start. Write them on the board, project them on the screen- and read through them with the kids. You’re the stranger in the room but it’s still up to you -not the students- to set the tone for the day. Give them boundaries that they can respect and you won’t have to lose out on teaching minutes to redirect throughout your time with the kids.

It’s hard to be a classroom teacher and even harder to step in as a substitute- but if you keep these tips in mind and properly manage your time, you’ll have an experience that’s truly rewarding and you’ll be sure to be asked back for repeat visits! 

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How to Build Work-Life Balance

You’ve probably heard or read about the term “work-life balance.” If you’re consumed by work, the term is likely to sound like a carnival act. If you don’t have enough work, it’s likely to sound like an insult, and if you’re professionally unmotivated, it’s likely to sound like a moot point.

The key to how to build work-life balance is understanding that balance means different things to and for different people. Articles written about work-life balance often come from the perspective that the person reading the article devotes too much time to work. This article, on the other hand, comes from the perspective that attaining balance is an individual path, yet regardless of the path, there are important factors for building work-life balance for all paths.

Relationship Health

If you’re constantly cleaning house, you’re not spending much time with your friends and family. If you’re constantly working, you’re not spending much time with your friends and family. Keeping your relationships healthy requires time, energy, and attention, and all work, whether it’s housework or employment, takes away from that time, energy, and attention.

If you don’t feel you spend enough time with your friends and family, you probably don’t, and it means that some area of your work or work outside of work needs adjustment.


Your body and your mind need and depend on you to take care of you. In order to stay healthy, you must take time to stretch, exercise, and embrace the calmness within, whether you meditate, pray, or simply practice quiet time. Self-care also includes other aspects of mental and emotional health, such as expressing yourself creatively.

Self-care also involves fun time and laughing. Laughter is one of the best therapies and remedies for your entire body, from the inside-out. Laughter increases all of the positive, happy chemicals inside of your body that in turn help the mind focus and build work-life balance.

Values & Success

Establishing and maintaining your values is an extremely important component of building work-life balance. Your parents, your employer, or even your spouse does not have the right to dictate your values to or for you.

If, for example, the price of financial success includes an unhealthy lifestyle or marriage conflict, the money is likely not worth the personal cost no matter how much society labels financial success as the ultimate success. Additionally, if the price of marriage success includes giving-up a career that you love, it’s likely not worth the long-term price to give-up your career.

For more information about building work-life balance while substitute teaching, contact us

National Art Education Association (NAEA)

If you’re in the teaching field, joining one or more professional teachers organizations not only helps you as a teacher, but it can assist your students too by giving you quick access to news and information in the education field. One organization, in particular, is the National Art Education Association, or NAEA. 

The NAEA was organized and formed in 1947 and is the largest professional art association in the world. This group is very active in voicing their concerns about the increased funding needed in our public schools for art programs and the overall need to keep art classes and art teachers in our schools.

There are a lot of perks for those that become NAEA members, one in particular is a downloadable app called Art Standards Toolbox. This app was designed to give you assistance with art curriculum and instant help with lessons and planning around that curriculum.

Other great membership benefits include various ways to connect with fellow teachers in the art community, whether it be on a local, state, or national level. Additionally, you will have instant access to events pertaining to the arts that are scheduled throughout the year.

Current featured NAEA events include:

Another great benefit for members is being able to shop on the NAEA website for art books, teaching material, and art advocacy items such as art posters and NAEA t-shirts. 

If you’re interested in art education, if you often time substitute teach art classes, or if you’re wanting to become more informed about art education in the public school systems, becoming a NAEA member is simple and you can join in several different ways: online, fax, u.s. mail, telephone, and email.

As always, we at SubSidekick are always just a phone call away. We look forward to hearing you and feel free to contact us should you have any questions or concerns.

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry

Long-Term Sub Plans for March

March is a long month in the world of education. Weather is often unpredictable, students are preparing for standardized testing and, in many schools, there are no scheduled days off. Providing themes for your students that are both fun and brain stimulating will help hold off the sillies and keep them focused on learning. The following are four themes to incorporate into your classroom complete with free activities for your students.

National Nutrition Month

March is national nutrition month. Incorporate nutrition lessons into your classroom using ideas from the National Education Association‘s website. The NEA provides links to activities for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  The Teacher’s Corner offers a free thematic unit on health and nutrition for upper elementary grades. There are activities for every grade level. You can also gather resources from the NFL’s Fuel to Play 60.

Women’s History Month

March is also Women’s History Month. International Women’s Day is March 8. The NEA offers activities for elementarymiddle and high school students on their website. Another great place to find free resources for Women’s History Month is the Education World website. Education World has complete lesson plans for a wide range of grade levels. Time for Kids and the Library of Congress provide even more resources for planning lessons on the history of women in the United States.

First Day of Spring

The first day of spring is March 20th. This is the perfect time to focus on things like flowers, butterflies and rainbows. A to Z Teacher Stuff offers plenty of printable sheets and activities for spring including a unit on butterflies and caterpillars. Spring is a great theme for your youngest students during a month when weather is variable and bringing the outdoors inside is needed.

There are so many great options for thematic units in March that will help any long-term substitute. What will your classroom be learning about?

Retail discounts for teachers in a pinch!

Are you strapped for cash? In this day and age, sometimes the stuff we need can be a bit expensive, and no one knows that more than a teacher. Between supplies, rewards, and everything in between it can really add up fast. As a teacher you strive to educate our future leaders of the world, and you deserve to be rewarded. I am hoping you find some great discounts for items you need, to help make your focus on teaching and not breaking the bank. The list below is current at time of posting for discounts/ and or rewards programs.

Are you an NEA Member? If so make sure you are registered for their click & save program.  This is an exclusive shopping service, for NEA members only that offers savings on a variety of brand name items from clothing, and electronics, to restaurants, jewelry and more!

Barnes & Noble  Here educators can receive 20% off all publishers list price for all classroom purchases. 25% on Educator Appreciation Days, and valuable emails filled with events, and deals.

The Container Store offers an Organized Teacher discount program that gives special discounts throughout the year to help keep your class and supplies organized.

Lakeshore Learning provides more than 1,000 free resources for use in the classroom or home, including lesson plans, printable worksheets and an award maker to name a few.

A.C. Moore has a rewards program where you earn points for every purchase. Use rewards to earn rewards certificates.

PBS LearningMedia gives free access to digital content and professional development opportunities that are designed to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Content includes quiz makers, puzzle builders, storyboard tools and much more!

Half Price Books offers discounted books, textbooks and a variety of educational materials at half the publishers price or less! Not to mention teachers can receive an additional 10% off with their Educators Discount Card. BONUS TIP: If you buy a Half Priced Books Gift Cards to use for your purchases you can save even more, as these gift cards are discounted by up to 35%. Gift Cards can be bought for a variety of retailers Half Priced Books included, make sure to check back often to find your faves.

Pencils.com has 10% off everything, every day. Save on pencils, notebooks and other classroom supplies.

Loft Loves Teachers and gives major perks on clothing including 15% off full priced purchases every day. Exclusive teachers only sweepstakes, seasonal style guides and special Teacher Appreciation events.

As you can see there is a variety of discounts out there just for you, sometimes you just have to know where to find them, and hopefully this list will make your saving less stressful and teaching that much easier.

 To find out more about Sub Sidekick and our services:

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Top 3 Podcasts for Productivity

We all want to be more efficient and effective, in our work, and in our lives. Fortunately, productivity is a skill that anyone can learn. There is no shortage of information available to help in this endeavor. It can be challenging to navigate through all the books, videos, blogs, and podcasts that address this topic. So, here we have gathered the top three productivity podcasts for you.

#1, Beyond the To-do List by Erik Fisher

On this podcast, the host interviews various productivity masters. These guests reveal their habits, routines and tips. Erik is also a speaker and coach. Additionally, he has written several best-selling books. These titles include “Focus Booster: Have More Clarity Make Better Decisions Live A Better Life” and “Ready Aim Fire! A Practical Guide To Setting And Achieving Goals.”

#2. Productivityist by Mike Vardy

This podcast examines the most significant productivity-related topics. Mike speaks with a different special guest on each episode. The guest experts give advice on a variety of subjects, including time management tips, apps and much more.

#3. The Tim Ferris Show

Tim is an entrepreneur and well-known author. He is famous for writing the best-selling book “The 4-Hour Work Week,” which is aimed at helping people escape the typical 9 to 5 workday. The podcast is #1 in the business podcasts category on iTunes.

Listening to audio books and podcasts is a great way to feed your brain. You can easily listen to them in the car, or when you are doing your house chores. The best thing about podcasts is that most of them are free! The above listed are three of the top productivity shows that can help you become more efficient in your life and work. Check out podcasts in other areas of interest as well. There is something for everyone. No matter how unique your hobbies and interest may be, someone is likely creating a podcast about it.

 For more information and assistance, contact us.

How to Start the Year As a Preferred Sub

You have your certification and approval to substitute teach in your district, and you are ready for the school year to begin. How do you make sure you are a preferred substitute from the start? 

Teachers and Staff: if the teachers and staff enjoy working with you, they will call you back as often as they can.  

  • Leave detailed notes for the teacher you are substituting for. Teachers greatly appreciate knowing how the day went. 
  • If a child is disruptive, include that in your notes, but make sure to also focus on the students who did well. Teachers love to hear that their class was well-behaved, or that their students did a great job showing you how to work the projector, for example. 
  • If you have a free period, ask if other teachers need help with anything. In a school setting, team players are highly valued. 
  • Keep your classroom clean. If there is a bit of a mess at the end of the day, try to clean up as best you can, so that the teacher returns and finds a tidy classroom. 

Students: building a strong relationship with your students can make your job as a substitute much easier. Students are very vocal about their experiences and often pass on their opinions to teachers and staff, so being a preferred sub with the students can translate to being a preferred sub with the staff as well.  

  • Tell the students a little about yourself so that they can relate to you. A great game to play with a new classroom is “Two Truths and a Lie.” 
  • Learn the names of your students. This goes a long way towards building a relationship with them. 
  • Praise students with personal, specific language, such as, “Stephanie, thank you for working quietly on your poster and putting the scraps in the recycling bin.” 

Most importantly, being able to respond quickly when there are unexpected teacher absences is a must for being a preferred substitute. Please contact us to stay updated about substitute teaching jobs! 

What Can a Substitute Teacher Learn from Dead Poets Society?

There have been many movies about teachers who have changed the lives of their students. From the classic To Sir, With Love, starring Sidney Poitier to the more recent Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts, this is a well-known and powerful genre. After all, who else has the power to change a person’s life as much as a teacher?

Teachers Who Inspire Their Students

Dead Poets Society is one of the most compelling movies about teachers who have changed the lives of their students. Starring Robin Williams as a charismatic teacher who teaches his students to love poetry and an equally absorbing caste of students, including Ethan Hawke in an early role, this is a movie you’ll cry with, laugh with and be completely inspired by.

Teaching Students to Think for Themselves

Robin Williams comes to the Welton Academy where he takes a unique approach to teaching poetry. He instructs his students to rip out the introduction to their textbooks which tells them how to judge whether a poem is any good. After all, this is no way to learn poetry. Poetry cannot be analyzed and deconstructed; it must be felt from deep within. In order to read poetry, you also have to write poetry. You have to find that spring of creativity deep within yourself.

Teaching Students to Express Themselves

Williams’ teachings inspire the students to start the Dead Poets Society, a secret group which meets to discuss poetry and life. The group is seen as subversive by school officials but it’s really just a way for boys whose lives are so structured to have a space where they can do what they want. Not everything has to be done with a certain aim in mind. Not everything is about securing your future or living up to the family name.

Teaching Students to Trust Their Instincts

Williams’ teaching and this secret club help the students to understand themselves better. One of them wins over a girl’s heart with his poetry. Another takes part in a school play because he wants to become an actor. A third finds the courage to suggest that Welton Academy should also admit girls.

Teaching Students to Face Difficult Situations

In Dead Poets Society, everything does not go as smoothly as planned. When tragedy strikes, it’s Williams’ character who has to take the blame. Still, the movie ends on a poignant and positive note where the students acknowledge just how much Williams’ character has changed them for the better.

Contact us for more tips on making the best of your time as a substitute teacher. Like Robin Williams’ character, you too can inspire your students to follow their hearts and become better individuals.