Teaching, especially if you are a preschool teacher, is not a job. Being a preschool teacher means that every day you are making an impact on and changing the lives of the children that you teach. Nothing can be more rewarding, but it is also a huge responsibility. What happens when the unforeseen occurs and you have to take time off? Surely a substitute teacher will be brought in, but will he or she be able to provide the continuity in the learning process that is so important when dealing with young minds? Or will the whole system be disrupted, leaving the kids at a loss and you with a mess to clean up when you return? It’s not the substitute’s fault – if no guidance is given, he or she will have to use his or her instincts and hope for the best.
Guiding the Substitute
So how do you do this, if you are not at school and cannot meet the substitute? The answer is to prepare a Substitute Teacher Starter Pack. This should be available with the school administration and given to the person who is filling in for you.
Creating a Starter Pack
So what is a starter pack and how do you make one? The pack could be just a folder where all the documents that you need to explain what you want are kept. Or you could go high tech and create a CD. It’s up to you. The pack should contain:
- A list of all the documents that are in the pack
- A class list with as much information as you can give / as is relevant about the children in the class. Even a few sentences is often enough to provide the substitute with the base for dealing with a child.
- A list of contacts – parents, emergency numbers, other teachers who can give guidance / advice, and so on. The school administration will probably give this anyway, but your doing it is a gesture that will boost the substitute’s confidence.
- Details of the kind of discipline you maintain in the class and the methods you use. Provide information on the type of behavior you expect. This is critical because if the kids find that in your absences they can get away with more than normal, pulling them back inline on your return will be tough.
- Details of class rules
- A dismissal list
- Either details of emergency procedures or information on where these can be found.
- Anything else you can think of to make life easier for the kids and the substitute.
This kind of pack will keep the effects of your absence to a minimum. But do not expect to find on your return that it is as if you had not been away. The substitute is not you and even with the best of intensions, things will be different in your absence. And would you be happy if your children did not miss you?