Monday, February 13, 2012

When the Art Teacher is Absent... lessons for the sub!

There comes a time in a teacher's career when she has to be absent for some reason, or gets sick and finally gives in, goes home, sees a doctor and finds out the best medicine is rest. We laugh when we hear that recommendation, especially the teachers who have little ones to take care of at home. What we dislike the most about getting sick is not taking the day(s) off, but having to leave plans for the sub. God bless our subs, though, for without them we would be up a creek without a paddle, and without a prayer!

I am mostly speaking from the art teacher's point of view, but I'm certain all teachers have to decide if it's worth the extra stress to go home sick, or to stay home sick, put in for a sub, and often not even getting someone you know in there. There is much work involved in creating sub plans. On the one hand, particularly in relation to the art teacher, you have specific art projects to finish, and you may even have projected completion dates in mind. Several days' absences in one semester could easily set you back, timewise. Add into the time dilemma testing pull-outs, test administration duties, and even professional development days that take an art teacher away from her classroom, and it's quite possible a project won't get finished on time.

Back to the purpose of this entry... sub plans & sick teacher. That's me this week. Fortunately, I had a set of plans for all my classes from preK right through 5th grade, including a couple of EC classes. The plans were not of my own creation, but something I found online, or maybe at my Art Teachers Group (we meet once a month, I thank God for bringing them into my life five years ago!). I used the plans for three different days, same plans, but each day different classes came through. And had three different subs... not my doing, but how it worked out with our online sub system. I had to do some minor modifying to adjust for grade/ability levels, and the EC class, but that took much less time than trying to find something different for each grade level.

I discovered the first time I got a sub, several years ago, to NEVER leave your current art project plans with a sub unless you and she are close friends and she knows exactly what you are thinking and what you want done. There's no way any sub can be you, and do what you would do in any given situation. Oh! the pain the next day I arrived back in class... supplies not put back properly, materials mixed up; class work not filed away properly; and the students of one class had convinced the sub they could use the circle templates (plastic lids) to press into the modelling clay. Ruined for drawing, the lids were. Had to throw them all away. But I learned from that experience, a great deal, about what kind of plans to leave the art teacher sub. 

I found that it is best to leave something the students can do that is interesting for them, and keeps them busy to prevent any behavior problems. I don't want to scare off my subs as they are often hard to come by. But having a good activity reinforces the point of our students coming to school, after all: they come to learn!!
I want them to learn something valuable in the time they are with me, so why would I expect anything less while they are with my sub? And from the sub's point of view, they want to do what they've been trained to do, and that is to teach. 
Generally, I call the sub that is assigned to me before s/he walks into my classroom so I can get to know at least their name, which grade levels they feel most comfortable working with, and if they have children at home. Having a casual chat helps break the ice, eases my mind about the person in my room (if I didn't know her/him to begin with), and probably eases their mind before they enter my classroom for the first time. Some subs will tell me they love art, and can't wait to do my class, while others tell me they don't know how to draw a straight line.  just tell them they won't have to!

So I want to help other art teachers by posting some things I found on the internet, some I have used, and some not, that can be used for a day or two of classes. Most can be done in one session, or taken home and completed. They are for the most part simple, requiring only paper, crayons or color pencils, or markers.

First I will leave some links of the blog entries that addresses this issue, in case you need something right now. Then I'll come back and leave some of my own ideas (with photos) in a follow up entry.
Substitute Art Lessons at The School Arts Room

Animal Art Grids at Teaching Ideas

Feelings Flowers at Teaching Ideas

Kindergarten - The Five Senses at Teacher Vision

Substitute Teacher's Survival Kit at Teacher Vision

A Day in Space (5th-6th grades) at Teacher Vision

Sub Teacher Art Ideas at

Sub lessons for the Art Room by Janet at Mrs. Malone's Art Room

So, if you are sick, please stay home and take care of yourself! A good rest really is often the best medicine for your body to heal and recover. Make your sub plans interesting for the kids, convenient for the sub, and educational for everyone.  Oh, one more thing... leave them some chocolate... for a job well done, they certainly deserve it!

I hope you find something at these links that you can use as they are, or with some minor modifications.

                                                           Be well!!

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