What to do when There is a Fight in the Classroom

Having spent most of the last 20 years serving as an English teacher in various behavioral alternative schools, I can tell you first hand, the short answer is there is no short answer! There are many variables that play a part in what a teacher or substitute teacher should do if a fight breaks out under their supervision. There are a lot of moving parts and often split second decisions have to be made in these situations.  There’s no need to sugarcoat this subject; we all watch the news and are well aware of how fast things can spiral out of control in a matter of seconds in a school setting. Some classroom or school fights are mediocre at best and some can be aggressive and violent. What you do in the first seconds of a fight could prevent more serve injuries to those in fight and also to those student spectators that will try to gather around to watch. So here are just a few thoughts and ideas to take into consideration as a substitute teacher.

Send a Student to get Help.

You can always quickly send a kid to go get help as soon as a fight starts; in my experience, I’ve never had this backfire on me. By doing that one thing you can at least count on some adult backup in minutes. Now keep in mind, many times those minutes can seem like hours when something violent in going on, just mentally talk to yourself to stay calm and remember that help’s on the way.

Use your Classroom Phone

If you’ve got a desk phone in your classroom, think fast and use it! Call the front office and let them know you need help because there’s a fight in your room. In five seconds or less, you can pick your phone up and call someone in the building, and if all you can do is yell into the receiver “There’s a fight,” then do that!

Distance Between Fighters and Student Spectators

Often if two kids don’t have a student audience, it’s easier to talk to them and get them to weigh the pros and cons of a school fight. Now getting some distance between the classroom and the two or more involved in a fight depends on age group of students, size of class, and where the fighters are in relation to the exit. You’ve got to think on your feet! If you’ve got a small class of high school kids and they’re sitting close to the exit door and the fight is on the other side of the class, tell those students that aren’t involved to get out in the hall and send one to go get help. Normally in these situations, you can depend on a student to go get help in the form of another teacher or a nearby administrator.

Keep a Whistle on You

This might sound funny but it helps! If you don’t have a phone in your room and when all else fails, open your classroom door, blow your whistle as loud as you can and scream “I’ve got a Fight!” Believe me when I say this, it works! Depending on where your classroom is in relation to the rest of the campus, you could be in a wing out in the middle of nowhere, so you want to be able to get someone’s attention. A whistle will do just that, especially the bright orange marine safety whistles! And as I write this post I can say that I just spoke with a substitute teacher last week that said she had to use her whistle during a fight; she keeps it in her pocket.

Extra Thoughts

I can promise you that fights among elementary age kids are not going to be near as frightening as seeing older kids fight. When you get to senior guys that play football level, they can destroy a classroom and the only thing you and everyone else can do is get out of the way; you’re outnumbered an undersized. And boy fight are usually not near as fast and scary to watch as those fights between girls. Those boy fights usually involve having fists up in the air like boxers and those girls fight like wildcats, pulling hair, biting, you name it. I tell you all of this because if you can de-escalate a fight before it even starts, it’s definitely to your advantage! If you know two girls, for example, are using threatening words toward each other and are just about to tie into it, get one of them in the hallway as fast as you can. It’s those little things that help the most.

School Policy

Many ISD school policies now have rules that instruct teachers and substitute teachers to not get physically involved in a fight. In otherwords, don’t try to break it up. This looks and sounds great on paper but often times it’s not realistic or morally the right thing to do. That’s going to be your personal judgement call on what you feel comfortable doing. As a human being, I would have a hard time not helping someone that’s getting serioulsly hurt, and as a teacher I’ve been in situations like that before.

The Good News

What I’ve mentioned about classroom fights might sound extreme, but they are by for not at all unrealistic. The good news is that most of your days will be fight free. In fact, you may go a whole school year or more without a classroom fight. But as my Dad always told me, “It’s better to be safe than sorry!” So be aware and stay on your toes and thank you for your service to the next generation of minds. And please don’t forget to contact us with any of you subsitute teaching questions are concerns!

“Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest is being a good teacher.” ~ Maggie Gallagher

5 Education Conferences to Attend in 2020

As an educator, you know the importance of taking advantage of learning opportunities. Chances are if you’re a substitute teacher, it’s because you care about the education system and those students in it. That’s where education conferences come in. Education conferences are not only for permanent educators or board members—they are a great way for substitute teachers to connect, learn, and stay informed on the latest education trends.

Below are five education conferences happening in 2020:

SXSW Edu 2020

The SXSW Edu Conference and Festival is a four-day event that will take place March 9-12 in Austin, Texas. SXSW Edu is an annual education conference that focuses on professional growth, networking, and collaborating with one another regarding current trends in the world of education.

The conference website boasts “more than 400 sessions,” and “an estimated 1,200+ speakers.” The conference will also host competitions and challenges, pop-up events, and networking opportunities.

Read more about SXSW Edu 2020 here.

AMLE

AMLE is the Annual Conference for Middle Level Education. This conference is geared specifically towards educators who specialize in middle-level education and holds hundreds of sessions and workshops discussing the best methods for working with students of that age.

Although no date has yet been scheduled for the 2020 conference, AMLE19 takes place November 7-9 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Click here for more information about AMLE.

PL Summit

The PL Summit—or Personalized Learning Summit—took place in May 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. No official date has been set for PL Summit 2020, but the website has a sign-up option to stay informed regarding all updates.

Personalized Learning Summit focuses on promoting and exploring what it means to offer personalized learning to students. The conference hosts several keynote speakers,  networking events, and has a number of sessions and professional opportunities.

Click here to read more about PL Summit.

DL2020

DL2020 will be held March 25-27 in San Diego, California. DL stands for Deeper Learning. According to the website, the 2020 conference will address questions like, “how can we help students engage in deeper learning?” and “how can we create and advance equitable learning environments?”

Click here to learn more about DL2020’s deeper learning initiative and conference details.

ASCD Empower20: The Conference of Learning, Teaching, and Leading Together

Empower20 is a conference headed by The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. The conference is geared towards connecting and empowering educators in order to grow and “learn from one another.”

Empower20 will begin March 13, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. Click here to learn more.

With so many options—many not listed—you are sure to find a conference that suits your interests and passions as a substitute teacher. Contact us or visit our website to learn about other opportunities for substitute teachers.

How to Find Long-Term Sub Jobs

Most substitute assignments are short term. Usually when a teacher or their children are sick, they call-in requesting a sub for a day or two at the most. Sometimes teachers are required to attend specialized training during the school year and a day or two is needed. On occasion there is a need for a long-term substitute. When this happens school administrators will try to find a substitute with the highest level of qualifications (most often a teacher’s license in the applicable state.) There are a few things you can do to find long-term substitute positions if that is your goal. 

Personal Resume Delivery

We at Sub Sidekick understand that every district handles their substitute teachers differently. Some use SubFinder, SmartFindExpress or other agencies, while others prefer to handle the hiring of their subs in-house. Every school administrator will be able to have some direction over who is filling long-term roles however. Administrators will look forward to meeting and getting your information if you are interested in a long-term role. They are more hands-on in this area because the sub will be with the students for an extended period of time. Think of it like a mini job interview. 

Get to Know Local Teachers

Getting to know the local teachers and making sure they know that you are willing to do substitute work can be a huge boost. Teachers want their classes left in the most capable hands possible because they don’t want chaos upon their return. Maternity leaves, extended illness and just life’s unforeseen circumstances can cause a teacher to be out for several weeks. If they know you’re available for long-term assignments then they’ll pass that on to their administrators. 

Attend Professional Development

Attending local professional development can be a good way to show that you are committed to education and teaching. It’s also a great way to make professional contacts and build your skills as a classroom manager. Make sure you reach out to local school administrators to ask if you can sit-in on some of these meetings. 

Once you’ve done a few successful long-term sub positions word will spread quickly and you’ll be getting called frequently. Whether you intend to substitute teach periodically or as your long-term career Sub Sidekick can be a trusted partner. Contact us for more information about how we can work with you to make you successful. 

How to Be the Best Substitute Teacher

If you want to be the best substitute teacher you can, there are two realizations that have to be made: First, remind yourself that you are a teacher. Being a substitute doesn’t mean you’re less than a normal teacher–although some would have you think so–; it means that you’re a suitable stand-in for the students’ normal teacher, with all the rights and privileges therein. Second, remember that as a teaching professional, what you do in the classroom is impactful. The actions you take, the words you say, and the way you teach should show kids they’re valuable and cared for, which in turn will show their teachers that you’re the right candidate for any absent day. Once these two vital realizations have been made, check out the two educational resources below because they will help you start making professional decisions that not only get you one job, but keep the phone ringing.

Substitute teaching starts off simply, as the Education World Online Substitute Survival Kit would tell you. Yes, follow the plan. Yes, be prepared and keep your composure. And when the heart you have shines is when you let the kids see who you are. “Sing! Play! Read! Write! Homework! Manage!” are some of the tips Education World provides, and what they’re really getting at is that it’s okay to be yourself. You don’t have to be mean or harsh; you can be a courteous, exciting, and playful teacher (because that’s what you are). You chose to be a substitute for only a handful out of so many reasons, but you love kids! You might even possibly want to make a career out of being with them. The plan the absent teacher leaves is only a frame that you fill out, and you have the professional skills and tricks to make it through the day (and the others, if you have more). 

Also visit Teacher Created Resources’ Tips for Being a Successful Substitute Teacher page to understand more about the ins and outs of excelling in any classroom. Then remind yourself that you’re a teaching professional who has all the capabilities of instruction and will impact every curious set of eyes in attendance that day. Becoming the most desirable substitute teacher takes time and practice, but if you have a heart to really get students to learn material, and so much more beyond it, follow these simple yet professional tips so that you’ll already be on your way to success.

For more posts on professional development as a substitute teacher all year round, contact us over at Sub Sidekick to learn more.

Three Tips for Having a Flexible Schedule as a Substitute Teacher

For many substitute teachers, one of the biggest benefits of their job is that they have a lot more flexibility with their schedule than they would have with most other jobs. How, though, do you take full advantage of your flexible job schedule?

Don’t Overschedule Yourself

Let’s face it. Substitute teaching can be a difficult job. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you won’t get the same level of respect that the students would show their regular teacher. One of the great things about substitute teaching is that you can take a day or two off occasionally without having to clear your time off with anyone else. Make your days off into what you want them to be, even if that means going grocery shopping or catching up on cleaning your house.

Take Those Short Jobs

While many subs scoop up those full-day jobs right away, many school districts have a harder time filling the shorter jobs. Teachers who are also coaches often leave an hour or two early for competitions. Although they may not pay as much as the longer jobs, these jobs are great. You can sleep-in, maybe go out to lunch with a friend, and then still get in a few hours of work in the afternoon.   

Be Ready on Short Notice

As a substitute teacher, you will often know only a few hours beforehand that you are teaching. Be flexible with this. If you are the sort of sub who is always ready on short notice, teachers and school administrators will likely notice. Being ready on short notice shows your dedication to the job and demonstrates a strong work ethic, both of which are likely to make you someone teachers will want on their list of preferred subs.

Be sure to contact us to learn more about taking full advantage of your flexible schedule as a substitute teacher.

3 Apps That Make Learning A New Language Easy

Let’s face it, learning a new language is difficult and time-consuming. A second language is always a good tool to have in your repertoire. Even if you are not fluent, it is a skill that will open up numerous employment opportunities. Read on to discover three amazing apps that will make learning a new language fun and easy.

1. Duolingo

Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps. Duolingo makes learning fun by using matching games, fill in the blanks, and example conversations. The app has an extensive list of languages to learn, from Spanish to High Valyrian. Duolingo tracks your success through modules. There is no moving backward in Duolingo, only forwards. Of course, you can easily go back to review each module when you need to brush up on a certain skill. With over 100 million users, Duolingo is a good option. 

2. Memrise

Memrise is a lot like Duolingo, but focuses more on the memorization of a certain skill or vocabulary. The app uses flashcards and games to improve memorization. It is a great app to use hand in hand with Duolingo. Memrise has a larger selection of languages than Duolingo, since all lessons are member created. There are many lessons that were created to compliment popular language learning books, so the app is a good option to consider before spending money on an expensive language book.

3. HelloTalk

HelloTalk is a wonderful app that helps you to improve your conversation skills. The app gives you the ability to talk to a native speaker in the language you wish to learn. Usually, they will help you in exchange for help with their English. This is a great opportunity to try different conversation activities that could help English language learners in a class. Conversation practice with this app comes in the form of voice and text chats. Users are able to correct each other’s messages using a built-in correction tool within each chat. HelloTalk is a great way to meet new friends overseas while learning a new language.

These three apps are free to use. They will provide a fun and easy way to learn a new language so that you can assist in foreign language classes. Sub SideKick is dedicated to connecting substitute teachers with the perfect job. Are you ready to be a substitute teacher in foreign language classes? Then contact us to create an account and stay alert. 

Looking for a Flexible Profession?  Consider Substitute Teaching!

Are you in the middle of a career transition and in need of an income to bolster you without getting in the way? Are you supporting a loved one who is suffering from health issues and who may need your care at a moment’s notice? Are you driven by creativity and seeking the freedom to pursue your passions? Whatever your unique needs for flexibility are, substitute teaching might be just the profession for you.

As a substitute teacher, you will enjoy many dimensions of flexibility, such as the following.

When to Work—By setting dates and times in an online account or mobile app, you can guarantee that your teaching assignments fit conveniently within your availability, whether that be every Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM, or just this upcoming Tuesday afternoon.  

Assignment Length—You can also determine the length of your assignments. For example, if you want to build rapport with students and faculty at a single campus, you can choose assignments ranging from a week to a whole semester; or, if you prefer a constant change of environment, you can opt for single-day assignments, moving from campus to campus each day.

Where to Work—Maybe you have a favorite cafe on the Northwest side of town whose breakfast sandwich you would love to enjoy each morning with a hot cup; or perhaps you have an evening meeting with a potential investor in your startup on the Southeast side. You can easily update your substitute teaching account to suggest only those assignments in school districts that are conveniently located where your business or leisure require you to be.    

Subject Matter—Perhaps you’re a retired engineer and would enjoy sharing your mathematical and scientific expertise with the next generation; or maybe the Civil War film you just watched has piqued your curiosity about American history. Whatever they are, you can choose teaching assignments that best align with your current interests or strengths.

Whereas many highly flexible jobs have the drawback of being financially uncertain, substitute teaching is known to be a dependable source of income. There is a constant demand for substitutes, and the daily compensation rate is averaging around $105.00. Also, depending on the school district, you may be eligible for health and retirement benefits.  

If you are interested in building a flexible schedule around your current lifestyle while earning a steady income and making a positive impact on today’s youth, feel free to contact us for more information about becoming a substitute teacher today. 

Eating Lunch with Other Teachers in the Breakroom Comes with Many Benefits

If you’ve made the decision to pursue the professional and rewarding career of substitute teaching, they’re are a number of things that you can do along the way to not only make new contacts, but also to increase your earning potential. You can look at it as serving as your very own PR manager, but make no mistake about it, meeting new friends in the education field definitely opens doors!

As far a substitute teaching is concerned, one place to meet new professional contacts is the teachers breakroom. If you’re new to a particular campus, just look for the friendliest face and ask them if it would be ok for you to use the staff refrigerator or microwave for lunch purposes.  They’re not going to say No, and now you have a way not only to enjoy a warm lunch but to also sit down and talk and visit with coworkers.

When you work as a substitute teacher I cannot stress enough the fact that you are like a walking billboard as far as the campus contract teachers are concerned.  Make a good impression on them, and they’ll have a big hand in you receiving phone calls or texts to continue substitute teaching at their campus in the future.  Believe me, contract teachers “put the word out” for you when they know you on a more personal level and see that you are professional and dependable. Additionally, meeting new teachers will enable you to have friends that can answer questions for you,  or direct you to the supply closet or to the restrooms, for example; it’s just good all the way around to know people when you substitute teach so that you’ll have people to help you with simple questions, should you have any.

So after you’ve figured out where the breakroom is and managed to meet a few of the staff, try to find things in common with one of them or some. Whether it be music concerts, ballgames, an upcoming holiday, the summer, your children if you have any, or anything else interesting that you can think of; find something to talk about and make a positive impression!

My trick was always food and humor! On a busy and hectic school day, nothing makes a bigger impact than a funny story that brings a teacher to a belly laugh, or a big plate of homemade peanut butter cookies! Or both! Teaching can be stressful at times, so when you can lighten up the mood by making someone laugh, they’ll remember you for that! And teachers love snacks, so it never hurts to bring candy, cookies, or donuts and leave them on the table in the teachers breakroom; it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something that serves as a nice gesture that tells them that you want to be part of the group.

So keep these simple tips in mind as you pursue your new substitute teaching career. And remember that SubSidekick can help you with any of your substitute teaching questions or concerns. Keep up the good work and contact us should you need any help or assistance in this rewarding field!

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National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)

When you’re in the substitute teaching profession, being a member of a professional organization not only gives you access to important education related information, but it also looks great on a resume. If you’re trying to gain substitute teaching assignments at a particular campus, submitting a resume that states your involved with a particular professional teachers organization will demonstrate to the principal that you’re not only involved in the education, but up to date on new and important teaching news, methods and ideas. 

One particular teaching organization that you can join, if you’re interested in science and mainly choose to substitute teach science related subjects is the National Science Teachers Association or NSTA. You do not have to hold a professional teachers certification to become a member; the NTSA’s open to anyone, including non-certified substitute teachers, or substitute teacher’s that are working toward their teaching certification. Basically, anyone that is simply interested in learning more about the field of science is eligible to become a member.

The National Science Teachers Association was formed in 1944 and currently has around 57,000 members. Additionally, although it is a national organization  it strives to connect like minded science teachers around the world through international conferences.  One international conference that focuses on world issues in particular is The Global Conversations Conference For Science Educators.

Becoming an NSTA member gives you access to science curriculum planning which can assist in selecting teaching material and designing units and lessons. Additionally, it offers classroom resources for physical science, life science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology and the application of science.

If you’re planning on staying in the education profession, and if you’re interested in learning more about science and having teaching resources at your fingertips, becoming an NSTA member is an excellent idea to not only strengthen your resume, stay connected with fellow science teachers, and to be current with science curriculum.

We at SubSidekick encourage you to continue to learn as a substitute teacher, join professional teachers groups and organizations, and try to gain as much knowledge as you can. As a teacher, learning new things not only helps you do your job better, but it also helps the students! Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

“The Science of today is the technology of tomorrow” -Edward Teller-

How Subs Can Help Stop Bullying

Substitute teachers may only be running the classroom for a short time, but they can also be some of the best people to help in the effort to stop bullying in schools! Consider that everyone (adults and children) tend to get more comfortable and relaxed around people they see routinely. When this happens their manners can sometimes fall by the wayside as well. Substitute teachers are guests in the classroom and by nature these students will be more attuned to their presence and expectations. 

Much like when kids “show out” a bit when company is at the house they will do the same thing at school. What some may take as behaving badly for a sub is in actuality an opportunity for the sub to have teachable moments. Being aware of when students are not being a good friend to others is the first step. When a sub sees this, turning a blind eye and chalking it up to bad behavior for the day is the worst thing to do. 

Taking the time as a sub to have a talk about not being a good friend can be very helpful. Even more important than continuing their instruction, helping to impart good character with the children is vital! Substitute teachers would be well served to do research on characteristics of bullying behavior in classrooms as well as tips for how to respond when they see this behavior. Remember that as the adult guest in their classroom they are more aware of what you say and do than you realize. 

Sub Sidekick always supports the concept of communicating with the school before you do anything as a substitute teacher. Because of this, knowing the school’s bullying policy and what efforts they have going on in the school to combat bullying is extremely important. Remember to do your homework on this before working in a school. Contact us for more information about substitute teaching resources and to find out how we can support you in your efforts as a phenomenal substitute teacher!