Many schools go to great lengths to ensure their teachers and staff are prepared for an emergency situation. How informed and well trained are the substitute teachers that enter the schools everyday? In some cases you, as a substitute teacher, are entering a new classroom on a daily basis. While delivering lesson plans that aren’t your own are probably your biggest concern, the safety of the children and yourself trump academics. There should be at least 4 safety measures you take upon entering the classroom.
1.) Locate the fire and tornado drill policies. Schools are required by law to run a certain number of fire and tornado drills each year. If you avidly sub in any school district or area, chances are you’re going to experience a drill. Read their policies and know which exits to use or where to move the children in the event of a drill. Different areas of the building use different exits. Know how to navigate your surroundings. Some drills may require you to close the door and turn the lights off before exiting or opening the windows. Not understanding the correct way to perform a drill can cause problems for the principal and school staff.
2.) Read and understand the school’s lockdown policy. Every school has different procedures to follow, however most include shutting the blinds, turning the lights off, locking the door, and covering the window on the door. Taping paper over the door window is the easiest way to cover it. Know where to find these items. Some schools are now giving subs the keys to the classrooms in the event of a lockdown. If you’re not given a key know where to find the closest teacher. Locking the door is important. You need to do this!
3.) Locate the phone and phone list. A phone is essential to communication with others if an emergency situation arises. Chances are the office secretary will be calling the classroom during a lockdown drill for attendance. You’ll need to know where the phone is located in order to answer it! This might sound silly but there are cases of classroom phones being located in strange places. Ask the students if necessary. They know the room better than you do. A phone is no good without a list of important numbers. If you can’t find one ask for the office or neighboring teacher phone numbers. Chances are they’ll be glad to give it to you.
4.) Take attendance!! You’d be surprised how many substitute teachers, and even full-time teachers, skip out on attendance. Check the absence list and make sure you know each child on your class list is there. If not, report the names to the office immediately. When the children are at school they are the school’s responsibility.
Substitute teaching can be a fun experience. It can also be stressful if you feel unprepared or that your students’ safety is being compromised. Remember these substitute teacher tips and you’re mind will be at ease!
Photo © Dane.Gre87