Episode 19: A New Approach to Sub Plans

sub plans Sep 13, 2022
sub plans

Excited to share my FAVE way to do sub plans with you this week!

Here is an example of one of these "recorded lessons" (LOTS OF ENGLISH) because it is the start of the year.
They did Classroom Jobs last week! 

Here is another example.
(using SnapChat) You can read a blog about this here.

One more for you

I think I'll be recording more "stories" that would be usable by other Spanish teachers this year so stay tuned and subscribe to my YouTube channel!

This is Dreaming Spanish which I mentioned.

This is Señor Wooly which I mentioned.

This is Alice Ayel's channel for French teachers that I mentioned.

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Welcome to Teaching La vida loca, a podcast for World Language Teachers seeking inspiration, unapologetic authenticity, and guidance in centering joy and facilitating language acquisition for the people who matter most our students, I'm your host, Annabelle. Most people call me La maestra loca. And I'm an educator just like you, and inspiring teachers is what I do. 

Sub Plans 

Hey there and welcome to episode 19 of teaching la vida loca. I'm super excited about this episode. And it wasn't one that I had planned out. I've tried to map out the next couple month’s worth of podcasts. And I'm realizing maybe that's a bad idea because I get inspired to share something and then I pull y'all on Instagram. And people are like, yes, do this and do it now. So, this is inspired by a story I shared last week on my Instagram. Because I was recording my sub plans and talking to people about how I do that, and then said, would you like to learn more about this?? So, this is the result of that conversation. 

Recording Lessons  

Let's start with the obvious. And that is that sub plans suck, I hate them! I hate them with all of my being it is almost better to just go into the freaking building, and be present when you're not feeling well, because sub plans are the worst. So now that we've got that out, I was unexpectedly out of work. Last week, I was really sick in the middle of one of my classes, had to go home. And then later that evening, after resting for a while I woke up realized there was no way I was going to be able to attend school the next day, and immediately went to thinking about how awful it was that I was going to have to write sub plans. Then I remembered that a couple of years ago, I started rethinking this process altogether. And I decided that I would record my sub plans instead, because I knew that my classroom has a computer already hooked up to the promethium board, it would be easy peasy for somebody to log in and click on a link to a prerecorded video for me. And it would be much easier for me to record that video than sit up and try and type these plans and hope and pray that printers were working at school the next day, which by the way, I wouldn't be there to print a colleague would have to do it, or an admin that does doesn't have time, and then they'd end up doing something else anyways. And I'm just not spending the time I'm not dealing with paper copies; I'm not dealing with having somebody else do it for me. So, when I have the time to record and I'm feeling well enough to record, that is what I do now. And these recordings look like an actual lesson. It feels like an actual lesson to kids. I've received incredible feedback from administration, from the substitutes themselves and from students about doing this process. I started this a few years ago with middle schoolers. And I did it the other day with elementary and students were like, this is amazing. You felt like you were there teaching us and that's the feedback I get consistently from substitutes, and from Admin is that the classroom management is phenomenal, and so easy on a song, because kids feel like I am there. 


One thing I will say that was easier, in a way with elementary is that they were able to play one video for the whole class. I do prefer it that way. When I had Middle School, oftentimes they would say Hey, can you just record one video and then just like that, but then kids will watch it on their individual Chromebooks. I think that's okay. But I think that that if you know that in advance, you would record it a little bit differently knowing that kids are individually watching a video. And if you have the option of them doing something individually on Chromebooks, then I don't think you even need to go the video route. Like, go Señor Wooly route or if you're a French teacher, then have a sign them videos by Alice Ayel on YouTube, or you could also use Dreaming Spanish, their YouTube and have students watch videos. And I think there's a million ways to get around that if you actually have students have access to individual Chromebooks. 

How I Begin 

But if you're going this way of recording your sub plans, I want to talk to you about exactly what that looks like. And sounds like for me, first and foremost, when I'm recording for the whole group, I like to explain why I'm out because oftentimes when I'm doing this, it's because I'm sick or because my kid is sick. And I'm just explaining Hey, I'm really sorry, I'm not there. You know, just a quick explanation in English, especially because I'm teaching lower levels. Quick explanation for why I'm not there. And then I say Okay, thank you to whoever is covering for me today, please remember to keep treat them with respect, they will be letting me know which class does best for them, and that class will get a bonus 50 points towards their class point P Yes, that points. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll link a blog about that management system, because it's my favorite. So that's a huge incentive for them. If they know that their class could get a bonus 50 points. If they do their best, then that's a huge win. 

What’s Next   

Next, I go through our classroom norms, which is something I'm doing every day at the beginning of the year. Anyways, these are norms that they created, and you can listen to a podcast or read a blog on that that's linked in the show notes if you want to do that with your students. But I remind them of what those norms are because I really want them following those norms. Even though I'm not there. I present them with the agenda for the day and let them know that they'll be doing a task by themselves after the video is finished. And then we go from there. And I jump into the actual lesson. I have my SEL check in like always, they tell me how they're feeling. They basically tell the sob how they're feeling. Using the meme that's posted on the screen. When I'm recording myself, I'm also recording my slides, I like to use loom to do this. I've also used and recorded it on Zoom to upload to YouTube. But that process takes longer. For me since I was sick. This time, it felt better just to record it on loom and to send the loom link or a tiny URL version of the loom link to the substitute and to my administration to be able to use. But you can record however you want. I just strongly advise using your slides. And then you go into your lesson. So, I've done this before with a clip Chat, where I've literally gone through a clip chat, and pause the video talk about it. Ask them to answer yes or no questions and ask them treat it as if I am teaching them. When you know there's things like there's gonna be kids calling out instead of waiting to answer questions, because I've built in wait time, like if I say class, I call in English. Uni dos tres. And then I'll say, oh, some of you answer too early. Wait until that three, if you know that there's going to be kids answering early, say it? Oh, don't answer early.

Using Paper & Pencil  

Those moments are magical. Those are the moments that I have students substitutes and administration commenting on like, it's amazing. When you say we're gonna get up to do a brain break. And you say wait, not yet wait until I say go. Three of the students were already standing. And they were like, shocked that you knew that even though you weren't there. And this was a recording. And like, I am a teacher. And I know, my students, and I know when they're going to do things. So I while I'm recording. If I say something that I know it's going to cause some of my more ready kids or my bigger personalities to do something, I'm going to make a comment on it and say, Wait, don't get up yet. I didn't say go. I build in brain breaks to the lesson. I I'll do a regular clip chat. The other day, I introduce all of my classroom jobs. And then after I introduce all of my classroom jobs with Brain Breaks sprinkled in, I said OKAY, Class A, now you're going to vote on what jobs you want to do. They could do this on a Google Form. Since my students didn't have computers, I told them to get out a piece of paper. They know where that paper is. They know where the pencils are, they know the classroom job, people who pass those out, I reminded them of all those things. And I said, When I say go, the classroom, job helpers are going to pass out the papers. And they're going to pass out the pencils because that's one classroom job we already had in place. And you're going to write down your top three jobs. And you're going to tell me why you think you would be good at that job. You can do this by writing why you think you would be good at it. Or you can draw me a picture, which I think is important because I don't have all of my students aren't able to write at that capacity. So, it's important that they're able to draw me a picture of why they think they would be excellent at caring for our unicorns, or why they think they'd be excellent as class ambassador. So, I usually have some sort of activity built in where they're going to do something on paper. But again, because I don't want any printing involved. The paper is usually like, Okay, grab your piece of paper next to the number two, you already answered Number One, Question number two is Qualis do a lot of fireball Ito because we're doing in the middle of this random clip chat. There's a person eating ice cream. I'm gonna pause and do personalization even though I'm not there. And I'm gonna say class a while is to follow Ito. So, I'm using all have the skills I learned as a virtual teacher with my word wall background and asking them questions. I'm building in the personalization; I'm checking for comprehension. I'm treating it as a regular lesson, just with me recording it in advance, and asking those comprehension questions and giving them think time and building in the brain breaks. 

How Long Does It Take?  

I'm even saying, you know, if you didn't have enough time to read that back to me, go ahead and pause me now. And then they're doing a choral read, while the substitute or a classroom leader that I choose is going up and pointing to the words as they read Coralie. It's an amazing system, it really, really is totally transforming the way that I do sub plans. And if it takes me a half hour to record a video, and then I know that for the last 15 minutes, they're doing a coloring page that I've already included in my classroom, or that's already there, or they're finishing the rest of the assignment that I told them to do, or whatever. If I'm recording for 30 minutes, that's so much easier than spending sometimes an hour or more, creating worksheets, printing off these crazy plans. It doesn't make sense. It just doesn't, doesn't make sense. time wise, emotion wise, like I cannot, I can't do sub plans. And I know you can't either. I know it's so frustrating. If this feels like a viable opportunity for you to change, I encourage you to give it a try. Also, if you're recording those individuals, then record an individual, you could totally do that, and then build it into a Google forum, have students do a Google form that you post to Google Classroom. That's an awesome option. I think there's lots of different ways you could do this. 

Another Tip 

Another sub plan hack that I just want to share with you that you may or may not already do is have a sub plan binder that's already printed. The sub plan binder includes just day to day stuff that they're going to need to know your schedule. If you're an elementary teacher, where you pick kids up from where you drop them off at, or who and what time, it's picking up where, where they're picking up kids from you who is picking up the kids etc. The sub plan binder also includes rosters, it also includes a way for students are for the substitute to leave you feedback on your classes. Your sub plan binder can also include important contact information. For the culture team members, you might need a text if you have a major classroom management issue. Basically, it's all the information that is going to be reoccurring, whether you're out for an emergency or a planned absence. And then you just have an extra tab in that binder where you put that day's lesson. It's an amazing system and makes it super easy for you. It makes it so you don't have to reprint those things every time. They're already there. And then the one pager can just be added, then what's beautiful if you're doing this recording, is you can literally just say, follow this bitly link or this tiny URL to watch the classroom video and watch a video of me guiding the class. All you have to do is supervise. Subs will thank you. Students will thank you. And you'll be amazed at how much better those sub report is. Just because students feel like you're there. Also, students will say things like, kind of sucks, because Sunday's are always nice, we can always kind of do what we want to do. That's like, No, actually you couldn't, could you. So, my middle schoolers sometimes asked me about leaving those videos, but I always found them wildly successful. And I think that you will too. 

Thank You! 

And that's all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed this. I hope that it helps you rethink your own sub plans. I will link any relevant resources in the show notes, and I look forward to talking to you next time. If this was useful to you. Do me a favor and share it with somebody or if you have extra time. Could you go ahead and write me a review on Spotify or, or Apple podcasts or Google wherever you're listening. It really helps me more than you know and I'm really grateful I went through some of the reviews the other day and it really made me smile and also just reminds me that recording these is totally worth it. So send it to somebody, spread it around, make sure people who need it can hear it. And take a second to leave me a review. If you have some time. It would really make my day. I appreciate you. And until next time, I'll be teaching la vida loca and I'm sure you will need to take care teacher.

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