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. 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.

3 Tips To Better Communication With The Classroom Teacher

Communication with the classroom teacher you are filling in for is one of the most important parts of being a substitute. When I was a full time teacher I remember many times coming back from an absence to find nothing from the substitute letting me know how their day went. This can be very frustrating for the classroom teacher and there is a good possibility they will request that you not work in their classroom again. Of course the teacher will always try to ask students for as much feedback as they can but we all know how reliable that can be. Here are three ways to better communicate with the classroom teacher.

1. Leave a note. Not just Bill and Nancy were absent, we had a good day. Use detail, break the day down into sections and give a few notes on the details of each section. Be sure to let them know any students who were not behaving properly, as well as a list of students who worked well or were extra helpful.

2. If they leave you their phone number, send them a short text message at the end of the day. Don’t be too detailed with this but make sure to give them a brief run down of the day, thank them for allowing you to work in their classroom and let them know there is a detailed note on their desk.

3. Follow up. The next time you are in the building, make time to swing by and visit with the classroom teacher you worked for. Thank them for having you, ask if your performance was satisfactory, and ask for any feedback they have for you. Reassure them that you know there is always room for improvement and you are open to constructive criticism.

Teachers prefer substitutes that are approachable and open minded. Also if they can put a face with a name they become familiar with you and will probably ask for you again!

For more information, contact us.

Tips for Managing a Teacher’s Schedule

Teaching is a profoundly rewarding career choice, but also one which places a high demand on teachers’ time at school. It can be challenging to manage the myriad of background planning and preparation tasks required on a day to day basis, let alone the actual job of teaching students. Here are a few ideas to help manage your teaching schedule and make efficient use of your time at school:

Set Boundaries for yourself, and stick to them. There are always going to be times when more hours are required to prep that amazing science lesson or to give really meaningful written feedback on a writing assignment, but make those late nights at school the exception rather than the rule. Many teachers find that setting a regular day of the week (say, Monday morning to prepare for the week) to spend an extra hour or two at school helps them feel prepared and better able to stick to regular hours for the rest of the week.

Avoid bringing work home on a regular basis. While any teacher would likely agree that this unavoidable at times, avoid making a habit of bringing work home. Teaching is by nature a job that is truly never complete; while the workload may ebb and flow, the job of teaching children is ongoing and cannot be finished at the end of a day. Give yourself permission to walk away from that half- graded stack of papers – they will be there tomorrow and so will the students.

Really take your lunch break. It’s all too easy to slip into a daily routine of promising students extra help during your lunch break, using the time to make phone calls home, or finishing up planning the afternoon’s math lesson. Teaching is not a profession which affords practitioners the luxury of taking a break on one’s own time or spending a few minutes zoning out on Facebook. Take the whole lunch break (yes, all 30 glorious minutes) to relax – you’ve earned it, and you’ll need it!

Work with your teaching team. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated time block for planning or meeting with your professional learning team, really use that time to discuss with your teaching partners how you could split up your collective workload. If you don’t have a regular time scheduled for meeting with your co-teachers, consider establishing one. Copying, lesson planning, organizing and many tasks can often be much more efficiently accomplished by working together – saving you time and stress.

The fast-paced, high energy environment of a modern classroom is without a doubt a primary factor drawing teachers into the classroom in the first place. Establishing proactive routines around your daily schedule will help you keep a balanced approach to your teaching career and keep your focus on high-quality instruction day in and day out.  For more information on this topic, contact us.

Four Snack Ideas for a Day of Substituting

As a substitute teacher, you will be on the move the entire day. You want to be prepared for when hunger hits, even if it isn’t lunch time. Vending machines and school cafeterias can really disappoint, so here are some snacks to pack for your day with children.

1. Nut mixes: Mixed nuts are the most portable and satisfying snack teachers can bring for a day of kids. Cashews, almonds, macadamia, and pecan are all fuel for hungry teachers. These nut mixes are excellent for a mid-morning snack or an afternoon pick-me-up. They provide the body healthy fats and proteins to keep you full and satisfied while you’re wrangling kids to and from their specials or classes. They are easy to pack, and they fit in your pocket. They keep you away from the vending machine, and you can snack on them all day.

2. Fruit: An apple, banana, bundle of grapes, or a bag of cut up strawberries can satisfy your cravings for sweets. If you’re hungry for chocolate or sugar, tap into nature’s sugar with fresh fruit. In addition, Lara bars or dried fruit are great alternatives to fresh fruit. By choosing these healthy options, your body will thank you, and you’ll feel strong enough to master that math or grammar lesson.

3. Veggies and Hummus: If you know you are going to have a heavy week of subbing, take some time on Sunday to cut up celery, carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli. If you put them in individual bags or use this fruit and veggie bowl to carry them, you’ll be so glad you prepared ahead of time when the 2 o’clock hunger hits. Adding these individual cups of hummus will make this snack even more delicious. Fresh vegetables and hummus won’t weigh you down, and you’ll be hydrated and happy until the day is done.

4. Salsa Rolls: Need something a little more filling for your day? Salsa rolls are easy to make and to pack in your lunch box. You just need these items to make them:

In a bowl, soften the cream cheese. When finished, combine with the salsa. On a tortilla, fill the middle with the salsa/cream cheese concoction. Sprinkle with cayenne and some cheese. Roll up the tortilla into a cigar shape. Slice the tortilla into rolls. Continue until all of the mixture is used. For best results, put in the refrigerator over night. Throw them into a Sestina snack container in the morning, and you’ve got a yummy, bit sized snack for a day of teaching.

Keeping your body fueled and hydrated is essential. You have to feel your best to bring the best out in the students. By planning ahead with these healthy snacks, you’ll be ready to tackle the day’s events. For more information regarding substitute teaching, contact Sub Sidekick.