Mineral Sunscreens: No Substitute for Safer Sun Protection

One of the many perks of the summer season, more time to spend outdoors with your family and friends. You know you want to avoid a sunburn, but when you consider the risks of slathering your skin in potentially hazardous chemicals and skin irritants, you may wonder if you were better off in the safety of the classroom.

Your concerns are justified. Many sunscreen products rely on the use of synthetic, UV absorbing compounds. Chemical sunscreens convert light energy to heat energy and disburse the heat through your skin. While these chemicals will help protect your skin from burning, there are potential risks associated with their use. The health risks associated with just a few of the commonly used chemicals include:

  • Retinyl Palmitate-potentially speeds the growth of cancer cells
  • Octinoxate– shown to cause reproductive issues and thyroid alteration in animal testing
  • Avobenzone- chemical changes during product breakdown is known to cause allergic skin reactions.
  • Oxybenzone- shown to reduce testosterone levels in adolescent boys and shorten the duration of pregnancy
  • Fragrances- many components are linked to multiple health concerns

Protect Your Skin with a Mineral Sunscreen

You can protect your skin from the potential health risks associated with chemical sunscreen use by selecting a mineral sunscreen. The active ingredients in mineral sunscreen, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide, provide natural sun protection without the risk of chemical absorption or hormone disruption. There is little risk of a mineral based sunscreen causing an allergic skin reaction.

How Mineral Sunscreens Protect Your Skin

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide skin protection by deflecting and reflecting UV radiation away from the surface of your skin. Mineral sunscreens are not absorbed the way that chemical sunscreens are. Some of the benefits of mineral sunscreens include:

  • Protecting skin from premature aging
  • Reducing the risk of skin cancer
  • Not absorbing into skin
  • Protecting against UVA and UVB rays (full-spectrum)
  • Minerals do not degrade from sun exposure

Reducing Residue with Micronization

The biggest drawback to mineral sunscreens is the white residue they leave behind. Today, many manufacturers have eliminated that concern with a process called micronization. The mineral particles are broken down into nanoparticles. These smaller particles result in a product with a lighter consistency that does not leave a visible residue.

Sunscreen Scout Provides Product Recommendations 

You won’t need to spend all your valuable time away from the classroom searching for the best sunscreen for your needs. Sunscreen Scout helps you make informed decisions by providing product reviews, pricing evaluations, and listing product ingredients, so you can get back to enjoying your time in the sun. Just a few of the products recommended by Sunscreen Scout include:

ThinkSport Kids Safe Sunscreen– a broad- spectrum product free of oxybenzone and other chemical UV absorbers. ThinkSport kids has an orange creamsicle-like fragrance and is manufactured in the US.

Bare Republic– a reef-safe, broad-spectrum product free of chemical additives and synthetic fragrances. Bare republic contains skin-soothing ingredients including shea butter, aloe and chamomile extract.

Badger– a broad-spectrum sun protection product that contains only six simple ingredients. Badger provides broad-spectrum UV protection and is gentle to sensitive skin.

Take advantage of your time in the sun, without worrying about the potential health risks associated with chemical sunscreens by selecting a mineral sunscreen product. For best results, reapply your sunscreen every two hours. For more information on the benefits of mineral sunscreens, product reviews, and sunscreen recommendations, visit Sunscreen Scout.

To stay up to date with timely alerts of job openings for substitute teachers, visit Sub Sidekick.



Podcasts for Every Teacher

A podcast, as a review, is a series of audio files available online. If you have a device, whether it’s a tablet, laptop, or smartphone, you have access to an unlimited amount of podcasts, providing you have internet service. The difference between online internet radio and podcasts is that online radio involves streaming and podcasts require downloading. Some extra trivia is the term “pod” is an acronym for portable on demand.”

For those of you that use Apple MacBooks, iTunes Store allows you to browse through hundreds of thousands of free podcasts. If you don’t already know this, Apple iPhone and iPads have a preset podcast app that you should be able to quickly locate on your phone. And for Android and PC users, Google Play makes podcasts easily accessible.

Now what makes podcasts so cool is that you can listen to them on your schedule. Whether it be in the house as you’re doing chores or cooking, or even on the drive home from work. Podcasts can be both entertaining and educational, in addition to being motivational. It seems that the vast majority of podcasts are free, but there are some that charge.

The subject matter and categories for podcasts range from Arts, to Business, to Comedy, Health, Games & Hobbies, and many more. There’s something for everyone. For teachers and those working in the field of education, there’s even a category devoted exclusively to Education topics.

Here’s just a few examples of popular podcasts available for substitute teachers, career teachers, and those in the education field:

Education Innovation – This podcast offers a lot of short, 20 to 30 minute episodes in its series ranging from topics such as – “How to Achieve Deeper Learning in the Classroom” to “Reinventing Learning Using Games.”

Talks With Teachers – Another popular podcast that focuses on “Inspiring Interviews with America’s Great Educators.” They have guests on their shows that include National Teachers Of The Year, and various other well recognized names and leaders of the field in education.

Teacher Tactics – This podcast is geared more toward high school teachers and discusses things such as classroom management techniques, tips for dealing with difficult students, parents, and self-care.

These are just a few of the many different podcasts available; the list is almost endless. There are new podcasts being added every day.

And one last thing, don’t forget that teachers can use podcasts in class, whether it’s for a lesson, a bell-ringer, or winding down the day. 18 Best Podcasts For Kids in Elementary, Middle, and High School. You can find stories for the kids to listen to, podcasts about Science, History, and many other subjects. The podcasts geared toward students are also educational and entertaining.  Additionally, when the students have to actually listen, as opposed to watching a screen, they seem to sit still and listen better than usual!

So look into these podcasts and see if you can find something to help you or your class. Remember that SubSidekick is here for any other your substitute teaching management needs and please contact us should you have any questions about our services. We look forward to hearing from you!

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Teach English Over the Summer at VIPKIDS

If you’re a substitute teacher that’s looking for summer employment, one company to consider submitting an application to is VIPKID. At VIPKID, you teach English online to Chinese children and earn anywhere from $14 to $22 an hour. Additionally, you’re able to set your own schedule, choose your hours and work as many or as few hours that you want. Some teachers are making as much as $2,000 a month working as little as 20 hours per week!

No Lesson Plans or Grading!

As a teacher working for VIPKID, you’re not responsible for any lesson plans or grading; the lesson plans are provided for you. So there’s no rushing around on Friday afternoon or Monday morning to get your lessons plans in order and turned in! VIPKID supplies all of the lesson plans for you, all you have to do is report to your computer! As one teacher was quoted as saying…..“I get to teach, but I don’t spend hours planning.” So in addition to no lesson plans, there’s no papers to grade and no parents to deal with!

What are the Requirements to Work at VIPKID?

To be eligible for employment at VIPKID, applicants must:

  • You must have a Bachelor’s degree.
  • You need to be experienced in teaching students between ages 5-12.
  • You must pass a criminal background check.
  • You must be a native English speaker.
  • You’ll need a reliable computer with high speed internet access.
  • And you’ll need a headset and camera. (Most laptops now all have cameras on them.) The headset and camera is for seeing and communicating with your Chinese students overseas.

Are There any Specific Teaching Hours?

Once you’re hired, you’re the one who chooses the times that you want to teach; generally, the times are between 9:00am – 9:30pm Beijing time. On average, teachers teach between 15 and 20 hours a week, but you can teach more, or less, depending on what your personal schedule permits.

VIPKIDS has been ranked #1 on its 2018 “Top 100 Work from Home Companies”

VIPKID was founded in 2013 by former teacher Cindy Mi and it’s now turned into a multibillion-dollar startup business. Additionally, it has a great online community and it employs thousands of teachers. Some full-time contract teachers have left their public school teaching jobs to work full-time for VIPKID, and some full-time teachers are earning incredible extra income working for VIPKID as a second job.

If you’re interested in learning more about VIPKID, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d love to hear from you!

Tutoring Opportunities for Substitute Teachers Over the Summer

In addition to substitute teaching, tutoring students after hours and during the summer can also be an enjoyable, flexible and financially lucrative addition to your work schedule and professional resume. With spring already here, and summer on its way, if you’re interested in tutoring, now is the time to plan, search for future students and build a clientele.

If you’ve never tutored before, it would probably be a good transition to start out with a small load and then build upon that as you get used to the new routine. There’s a few things to consider and keep in mind as you start this new adventure. One thing to think about is what subjects and grade levels do you want to work with?

If you just want to be a general tutor for lower grade level students, you’re probably familiar enough to help them with multiple subjects.  On the other hand, you may have, for example, an expertise in a particular secondary math subject and feel that you only want to teach that one subject. That choice is yours to make depending on what you’re comfortable with and what subjects you enjoy teaching.

The next thing to tackle is getting your message out there to the parents. You can do this through social media, word of mouth, an online ad targeting your individual community or any other creative method that you may come up with. Make a catchy little business name, sell yourself!… and you will find students that need your help. Additionally, the schools that you substitute teach for could supply you with some leads and those campuses may also offer student summer services that require tutors.

If you’re freelancing and working for yourself as a tutor, I suggest that when you conduct your tutor sessions, do so at the student’s home with a parent present! Unfortunately, in this day and time, this must be mentioned just for liability purposes. I’m sure you’ll probably never encounter any unwanted situations but it’s better to stay on the safe side!

If you’re working with a senior, for example, he or she may feel more comfortable meeting at a coffee house, but if you choose this option, I’d have the parent attend and they can sit on the other side of the coffee shop, read, enjoy a cup of coffee and wait.  I only add this “coffee shop” idea for the older kids who are more mature, and who would more likely agree to tutoring in a trendy atmosphere.

These points about having the parent present are not meant to alarm you; it’s just a matter of professionalism in your field, and it’s no different than a doctor or dentist having a nurse or assistant in the room with a patient. It’s just a safety precaution. And additionally, having the parent present allows them to ask questions, and know what the assignment is, should you give one.

A last point to mention is maybe a small group “Arts and Craft” session, for you art enthusiasts! With things as simple as some small river rocks, inexpensive paints and brushes, and a can of Mod Podge spray, you could design an art class. A perfect place to do this would be in a city park where there’s plenty of parking and picnic tables. The parents could bring their kids and you could show them how to decorate their rocks with the different colors of paints. They could paint bugs, flowers, rainbows, or whatever else they choose. You could teach them about how these rocks got so smooth over the years and the paints drying, and soon they’ll be ready to be sprayed with the Mod Podge spray sealant which will preserve their rock paintings and make the rocks shiny. Lastly, the kids will have their own rock to take home with them. Parents love this kind of stuff, and plus, it gives the moms and dads a chance to sit in a chair and have to down time for an hour or so! You can be creative and think of plenty of different ideas for these Arts and Crafts lessons and do a different one each week!

So these are a just a few ideas to help you with a tutoring job/business that can put cash in your pocket, to the tune of $15 to $25 an hour per student, or more, in addition to, strengthening your professional resume and boosting your confidence as a teacher!

By tutoring, you’re not only gaining experience but you’re also meeting parents that could be positive references for you for future resume purposes.

Good luck with your new tutoring business and keep SubSidekick in mind for all your substitute teaching needs and feel free to contact us should you have any questions about our services.  We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Fantastic Books to Inspire Your Students During Great Outdoors Month

Keeping students’ attention can be quite a challenge sometimes, especially when the bright June sun is shining through the window and a fresh summer breeze winds its way through the classroom. Your kiddos are itching to get outside, and there’s nothing wrong with that! After all, June is Great Outdoors Month–so why not embrace their love of the outdoors and help them make the most of it? Share these awesome reads with your students and their outdoor adventures are sure to be imaginative and unforgettable.

1. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen). Kids love dirt. Why? No one really knows. We do know, however, that their favorite thing to do in the dirt is to dig. Digging holes seems to be a cherished, timeless activity, no matter how many fantastic video games or apps the world comes up with. So it makes sense that children are fascinated by this story about a pair of adventurous boys on a mission. The pair is sure that the hole they’re digging holds something quite marvelous–it’s just going to take some patience to find it. This story will have your kids giggling and exclaiming at each twist and turn of the boys’ incredible adventure.

2. The Camping Trip that Changed America (Barb Rosenstock). Chances are, a few of your students will enjoy a camping trip or two this summer. This book will show them how a very important camping trip from long ago inspired the creation of our country’s delightful national parks. Your students will enjoy following Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir through the impressive, uncharted Yosemite area on a historical adventure. The back of the book includes extra information about the pair’s love of the great outdoors and the important steps they took to preserve natural areas throughout our country.

3. 101 Things for Kids to Do Outside (Dawn Isaac). This incredible book will get even the most stubborn couch potatoes and gamers moving this summer. The book is packed full of fun, interesting, and adventurous outdoor activities that are perfect for those long summer days (and even a few winter ones!). From weaving bird’s nests to hosting mini Olympics to flying homemade kites, these activities are sure to make any kid appreciate nature. You can encourage your students to find the book in their local library, or make photocopies of a few of the best activities and hand them out for the kids to take home.

4. A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play (Marilyn Singer). The fun, lyrical poems in this collection are perfect for read-aloud time in your classroom. Watch as your students’ imaginations soar as they listen to delightfully charming rhymes about some of the best things to do outside. Endearing illustrations are bright, colorful, and sure to capture kids’ attention.

5. The Tea Party in the Woods (Akiko Miyakoshi). The woods are a magical place filled with curious creatures and fantastical sights. This fairy tale will encourage your students to embark on their own imaginative outings. Kids will get lost in the story of Kikko’s journey through the woods and her fascinating find–a whimsical cottage filled with talking animals. Not only do the animals talk, but they are also dressed to the nines and invite Kikko to join them at their enchanting tea party. Beautiful black-and-white illustrations boast pops of bright colors throughout the pages to add a special touch to the story.

Nature is truly a spectacular place. The month of June is a wonderful time to celebrate the great outdoors. Encourage your students to cherish the beauty of nature and use their imaginations to create their own incredible adventures. These books are a fantastic way to share the magic of the outdoors. Please feel free to contact us to learn about more ways to encourage your students to play outside.

Being a Better Substitute Teacher- Find a Mentor

When a person first starts as a substitute teacher it can be scary. You are walking into a new place with little information on what you will be doing until you get there. Every day is a new experience and every day is a little different. Many times a new substitute teacher may not know the staff at the school or the other teachers they will be working with. A key to being a better substitute teacher is to find a mentor. If you are working in multiple schools or buildings you may want to find a mentor in each place.

When choosing a mentor, you should look for someone who has been around a while. Someone who is friendly, willing to help, and has a general knowledge of all things within that school. It may take a few trips to that particular school before you find the right person.

A substitute should first talk to every staff member they come into contact with in a school. If you are open and friendly, most of the staff will be too. This will allow you to get a feel for who can be the most helpful.

Once you choose the right mentor, ask them if they will be willing to help you and give you some pointers. After they have agreed to be a mentor, use that person as your go to for any questions you may have.

A mentor does not have to be a classroom teacher. You may find it easier to talk to an aide who works in multiple classrooms, a specials teacher who deals with several different classes, or even the building secretary who knows just about everything about what goes on in a building. The key is to find a go to person to help you out when you are unsure.

For more information, contact us.

Thank a Teacher with Personal Creations




As we approach the end of the school year, it ’s the perfect opportunity to send teachers a thank you card for all they have done. From creating lesson plans and activities, to grading papers and tests, teachers and staff deserve recognition for their hard work. That’s why we love Personal Creations’ guide on how to make a pop up card. In six simple steps, students can create a fun, 3D card for their teachers that they can keep on their desk for years to come. Create a pet pop up card for the dog lover, or a add a few succulents to your pop up card for the green thumb teacher. Teachers will love how their students personalized a special card, and their extra effort deserves an A+!


The Many Benefits of Being Notified of Jobs on your Cell Phone

The education field has come a long way in the last several years due to advancement in technology, user friendly device apps, and the widespread use of cell phones, tablets, and iPads in both the classroom and at home. Contract teachers and substitute teachers alike, incorporate technology into their instruction and personal life.  Included in this modern technology is the advanced services of SubSidekick offered for those working in the professional field of substitute teaching.

SubSidekick is an innovative new approach to offering substitute teachers a way to stay ahead of the competition through the use of an advanced website and convenient job alerts.  One of their many benefits is that of being notified of future teaching assignments via their exclusive SubSidekick App, text messages, email notifications, or desktop alerts.

There are many advantages to having real time alerts regarding potential new assignments. One is that you could have the instant opportunity to accept the assignment before someone else does.  Others who do not subscribe to SubSidekick, may for example, have to wait until the days end to check an overlooked voicemail or return a phone call, and by then someone else could have already agreed to take the assignment.  Additionally, if you’re receiving assignment alerts, you also enjoy the convenience and privacy of easily and instantly accepting or decline the job.

Also, if a certain office staff get in the rhythm of easily making contact with you using this method, that office staff is much more likely to continue making contact that way, as opposed to calling various other substitute teachers and leaving voice mails and waiting on return calls in order to fill the position.

Consider using the services of SubSidekick to make your earning potential as a professional in the field of substitute teaching the very best that it can be. This dynamic company offers a wide array of services, video tutorials, in addition to, a very user friendly website. Contact  them and learn how you too can be notified of jobs via text message or email!

Annual NEA Conference 2018

Each year the NEA (National Education Association) hosts an annual national meeting and representative assembly in a preselected location. This year, the 2018 NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly will be held from June 30 to July 5 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over 8,000 NEA members are expected to attend and the agenda involves a variety of meetings relating to racial and social justice, women’s issues and student leadership.

Annual Meeting takes place during the final week of June and/or the first week of July and it is generally devoted to delegate registration and a wide range of pre-RA meetings, conferences, and exhibits. And on the other hand, the Representative Assembly, the highest decision-making body within the over 3 million-member NEA, gathers and participates in debates and discussions regarding vital issues that are impacting our public school systems.

Additionally, there is a list of speeches and speakers including featured speaker, Lily Eskelsen García and NEA President of the nation’s largest labor union. Ms. Eskelsen García is an inspiration to so many teachers too; after beginning her career as a school lunch lady, she now leads some three million NEA members and… “is the first Latina to lead the NEA and one of the country’s most influential Hispanic educators.” Other speakers include:

  • Sydney Chaffee National Teacher of the Year Codman Academy Charter Public School
  • LeVar Burton Author, actor, literacy advocate and recipient of NEA’s 2017 Friend of Education Award.
  • John C. Stocks Executive Director of the National Education Association.
  • Saul Ramos National Education Support Professional of the Year Worcester Public Schools.

So, remember to mark your calendar for June 30 through July 5 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You could make a vacation out of it. Not only will you be able to meet important people, make contacts, and learn valuable information about the direction public education is going, but you’ll also have something to add to your resume.

We wish you luck and hope you can attend. Please contact us should you have any questions or concerns.

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-11 2018

When you think of some of your earliest childhood memories, it usually almost always involves a teacher. After years and sometimes decades have long passed and transformed us into adults, even then, when we stop and reflect on some of those early years in elementary school we can always remember one of our favorite teachers. Whether is was out on the dusty, sweaty playground, or in class on that special day of “show and tell,” when you brought your beloved hamster to school to introduce him to the class, we usually always remember that favorite teacher, and for a brief moment, as those nostalgic thoughts dance around in our head, we’re for a brief moment a child once again.

I can close my eyes and vividly remember my fourth grade teacher who took the time to come to school dressed in a plaid prairie dress and show us how to churn butter after our class have finished our multi-week activity of reading aloud, Little House On The Prairie. It was magical. It made an impact on me. And even though this occurred sometime around 1974, I can still remember it just like it was yesterday.

My fourth grade teacher didn’t have to go that extra mile and do what she did, but she took it upon herself to go above and beyond, as so many teachers do every single day of the school year. They do these things without being asked, and without any recognition, not because they have to, but because they care.

I’m sure as you’re reading this you can relate to a teacher that touched your life as mine did. We all have a special teacher that’s made an impact on us in one way or another.

So as Teacher Appreciation Week 2018 approaches, think about what teacher stands out in your life. Maybe you’re considering a career as a professional contract teacher or possibly you’re just looking into substitute teaching because of that special teacher that taught you; either way, this special Teacher Appreciation Week would be a great time to #ThankATeacher.

And if you’re wanting or needing advice on the professional career of substitute teaching, don’t hesitate to contact us. Possibly you’ll end up touching a life as your favorite teacher did yours!