Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Contingency plans

Recently, my coworker was suddenly taken ill and sent me an email with lesson plans for the day. The plans were basic, and a bit sketchy, so I dipped into my bag of tricks. My own contingency plans.
A few years ago (it feels like it was just last month), we lost a teaching colleague to bacterial meningitis. It was sudden and heartbreaking. It was also a wake-up call to the rest of us.
All teachers keep a Sub Folder. It has basic information such as attendance routines, a class list, schedule, other teachers who can provide support, and where to find the coffeepot. With our friend's death, many of us started a new emergency sub folder. We thought, what if we had a car accident on the way to work? What if there was a family emergency? A tornado or fire? How about the possibility of getting stuck with a cancelled flight or being on the other side of a storm front, unable to drive? A sudden unpredictable illness?The possibilities were endless, even frightening, given what we'd just experienced.
Well, a kindred spirit (and companion in grief) suggested we come up with a set of alternate plans that a sub could teach on short notice. I saw the value in her suggestion and grabbed the bull by the horns. Hence was born my Emergency Sub Folder, subtitled "Activities with value for filling time." One folder has 30 copies of several activities: word searches, spelling practice games, and basic math facts. The other has a collection of master copies; the sub would have to make copies, but there is enough to do that he or she could fill a day and keep the kids busy.
The last part of my plan is this: these folders are on top of my file cabinet, next to my desk, labelled in large letters "Mrs. Flowers' Sub folder." An substitute worth his/her salt could walk into my room, find the folders, and teach the day.
I've had these folders for four years (out of thirteen years teaching). It's a little like carrying an umbrella, snow brush, or ice scraper; I hope no one needs to use them, but they're ready.

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Blogger Cheryl said...

I hope your sub folder is a big waste of time. :)

12/18/2007 4:23 PM  
Blogger Not Hannah said...

In our county, teachers are required to have these dealios. (Actually, three of them!) I hated doing it, but it was worth it when I had to go on maternity leave early.

Also, what mammacheryl said!

12/18/2007 4:48 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

As a newly minted substitute teacher, I applaud your substitute folder. Brava!

12/18/2007 9:28 PM  
Blogger Nicole Pelton said...

What a great idea. I remember working with high school students as a mentor, and every time they had a sub they pretty much watched movies or went to the library, pretty depressing considering many of the kids were not doing that well to begin with.

12/19/2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

What a cool idea! Yeay you and like cheryl, I hope no one ever has to use those too!

12/19/2007 12:56 PM  
Blogger Tania said...

I don't think my teachers ever had such a plan. I have a vague recollection of playing Simon Says in grade 8 math class with a sub once.

12/19/2007 7:27 PM  
Blogger Amy W said...

Good to know, hopefully I will get to be a teacher next year and use this idea!

12/20/2007 7:10 AM  

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