Sunday, August 30, 2015

Substitute Angst

I have been a substitute teacher. Memories of those days still have me cringing. Doors were closed in my face. Students made fun of me. And bad behavior was always at an all time high. Students dancing on tables required me to get help from the teacher across the hall. I NEVER subbed in middle school after that day.

OH and let's not forget the directions to get the textbooks out of the cabinet, that was LOCKED and there was NO key. OH AND trying to figure out the gizmos to show a movie, back in the '90's. It was a nightmare....... It got to the point where I made sure I had with me a variety of easy lessons that I could do with students.

It is with having had those experiences that I plan lessons for my substitutes. The advantage of being an elementary art teacher who sees students once a week, is that the same sub plans will last for 5 days. So the plans I am writing for Tuesday I can use in October when I am out for the FAEA conference on a Thursday and Friday. AND I will still have a Monday and Wednesday to use those lessons.

For my primary students I like to leave a book for the sub to read which can jump off to an open ended drawing/coloring experience.
The book above is still available on Amazon. Is about a cat trying to find inspiration for his next painting. The illustrations are very bright and beautiful. Many discussions about what the students are looking at, feeling or how they get inspiration can be had during the reading of this book. Afterwards students are given paper and crayons or markers to make some art.

Another book I've used is Sylvie. Sylvie is tired of eating the same thing everyday and decides to try new foods, which turns her into different colors. I put together step by step directions for drawing a flamingo for the students to follow. And then they decide what she has had to eat and color her accordingly.
Also, this book where all the neighbors decide to make their house "The home of their dreams". Students can then make their own dream house.

I will be out on Tuesday to be trained as the PLC facilitator for the singletons on campus. In other words the liaison/team leader for Music, P.E. and Art. Should be interesting, perhaps a future post?

I decided to leave plans for the sub to read the book Matthew's Dream. It is about a mouse who wants to be an artist. I think it will be perfect for the beginning of the school year because of all the colors and shapes used in the artwork. You know connecting to the Elements of Art.

Now, while the books work for the k to 2nd grade set. It won't cut it for the older kids. Some of those projects need to be more of a follow the steps type of deal. What's in the Box? (Check out the resource page for a photo of the directions.)  Is fun, students draw things inside and then can decorate the outside (back of the paper) as if it was wrapping paper.
 Making up or using a ready made glyph works really well.
I have had these plans for so long that I have no idea where they came from. Or if I made them up? I also like to leave a copy of Shel Silverstein's poem "What's in the Sack?" Students can then draw a sack and fill it up with anything they want. Or fold their paper, book style, draw a sack on the front. Then draw a special item inside. AND to add a writing component have students write clues as to what's inside. They can then partner up and share.

There are many wonderful resources just a few clicks away! Gotta show you all what I found to leave for my older students. A Lego Person! Check out the link to download your copy.

Not sure how rolling a die will work with this, I really think students will want to draw the Lego person their own way. However, this will fit in nicely with  the self portraits we are working on.

Being in a new room and doing a few things a little differently then before I have had to write up new directions for the sub as to how to manage the classes. It will include where to find things, who to contact for help, seating charts, schedule and how to use Mona Lisa to get student's attention. Which by the way worked really well last week. With the exception of one class where a student called out "There is NO Mona in this class!" With a little more practice..........
It's really great when I find a person who follows my plans and everyone is happy. It doesn't always work out that way. It was a nightmare last November when I took a week off for my son's surgery. He is fine and when I returned I certainly felt appreciated.

I learned from my subbing experience to make sure my plans are written clearly, I use images if possible. I over plan for students to have options if they finish early. And I try really hard not to worry about it. It's awesome our profession has a sub system in place, so let's try to make sure our sub is successful in our art room!

Tell me about the lessons you leave for your subs!  Thanks for reading!!


  1. Love these sub ideas. I am having a hard time looking at the directions for "what's in the box?" Is there any way you can post the lesson/directions for this plan. thanks Stacey

  2. I'm at the NAEA conference and will post it to my resource page next week. Thanks.