May 20, 2018

Tips for Successful Technology Sub Plans

Tips for Successful Technology Sub Plans when you have to be absent

**This post was written by Science in the City, and previously posted on www.technologytoolsforteachers.com. However, that site has been discontinued, and so my content will gradually be posted here **

Tips for Successful Technology Sub Plans

We’ve all been there – you have to be out for a day, but its nerve-wracking. What to leave for a sub? How to make sure it goes smoothly? You don’t want to waste a day of class, and you don’t want to come back to chaos the next day. Especially at this time of year, there seem to be more field trips, family events, and reasons to be absent.

Here are my suggestions (granted I have mostly taught secondary, but I think these suggestions would work even with upper elementary as well).

You can’t always guarantee who you will get as a sub, or how your students will react, so here are a few suggestions to minimize the stress.

LEAVE THE DIRECTIONS DIRECTLY FOR YOUR STUDENTS

Students are used to receiving direction from you. They are more likely to give a sub a hard time, or the have confusion. Give the directions to the kids. If you use a learning management system such as Google Classroom, Schoology, Edmodo etc this is very easy. they are already used to logging in, and can look for their work there.

If not, I have left the kids a very quick and simple set of directions of what they are to do for the class period, and what is to be handed in at the end of class. I sometimes leave the kids direction in the form of an official looking ‘memo’ with the assignment for the day, when it is due, and what to do if they have extra time. I photocopy either for each student (even a half sheet is plenty), either as a separate handout, or as a cover page with today’s work that explains their directions for the day.

This leaves the sub free to either tell students to login and read the directions, or the pass out directions, as well as take attendance, monitor behavior, and deal with questions and problems, rather than try to teach/lead a lesson that he or she may not be comfortable with. It also takes out the middle man. I don’t know about you, but I have heard some strange stories such as “the sub told us not to hand that in” or the “sub never passed that out, etc”

LEAVE THE SUB PREPARED

Make sure the sub is prepared to do the things that you really need him or her to do. Here are some tips:
  • leave attendance rosters
  • leave a class schedule
  • leave a seating chart, if you use one
  • leave directions and contact information for another teacher to ask in case of questions
  • leave directions or a phone number to call for the main office/security in case of a problem
  • clear directions of what work should be handed in
  • leave some type of feedback form, this helps ensure that you will get feedback on how the day way. There are numerous free versions available by searching for substitute feedback form. Here is a good resource from the National Substitute Teachers Alliance.

HAVE A BACK UP PLAN

As has already been mentioned in many other places, it is important to have a back up plan.

My go to backup plan is either a news article summary or a vocabulary activity. I keep vocabulary lists, and a vocabulary menu of choice activities for students to practice key vocabulary. I also keep a bunch of news articles printed out, with a generic news article response template (I just use the first page). Even if you don’t keep articles, you may be able to get a few copies of the newspaper or of magazines from the school library. Again, there are numerous current events summaries available with a quick search, so I would recommend that you find one appropriate to your students.

These are assignments that students can do for extra credit or early finisher activities but they are also great for emergency sub plans, or if the technology isn’t working. Sometimes there is a sub who isn’t comfortable with the technology or has an issue getting kids logged in. These are a perfect temporary solution.

Tips for Successful Technology Sub Plans when you have to be absent

May 6, 2018

A Financial Secret to Benefit You, Teachers

A Financial Secret to Benefit You, Teachers

As we are just finishing up taxes and tax time, I wanted to share a tax saving or financial tip for teachers that you may not be aware of. I have only become aware in the last few months of a certain type of investment or saving account that is open to teachers and some other public employees. This type of account is called a 457 investment account.

I am not going to claim to be an expert, but I will give you a quick synopsis, and a few more sources of information.

A financial option open to teachers that you may not be aware of
 

I learned about a 457 first on the Choose FI podcast episode entitled The Unfair (FI) Advantage Of Teachers | 457b. Another good source of information is the Millionaire Educator blog, specifically the post “7 Reasons to Love your 457 Plan.”

Definition and Advantages of a 457

A few bullet points about what a 457 is, and what the advantages are:
  • A 457 is pre-tax savings or investment, similar to a 401k (usually in business) or a 403b (often teachers have this as well). That means your money is going in before it's taxed so you are able to put more in and you're able to reduce your taxable income (lower your tax bracket)
  • The rules or a 457 state that you can withdraw when you leave your teaching position, or at age 59.5. This means, if you leave your teaching position, you can withdraw from your 457. 
However, you may need to do some research and work with your HR department. My district did not really seem to publicize the 457 well. I had to do some digging to find out about it. I have heard the same from others as well. However it may be worth the work as it may be a good alternative for you to improve your tax situation and your savings for later.

More information

Here are a few 457 links with some more information
Definitely do your research, they won’t be for everyone, but this has potential to be important enough that I wanted to pass it along. I have been teaching for 12 years, and thought I was relatively on top of my finances, but I had never heard of a 457, and didn’t know it was available. As such, I’m assuming I’m not the only one. This could be a huge advantage if you are teaching but plan to leave your job and stay home with young kids for a while, go back to school, or simply leave the teaching field and pursue a different line of work, but maybe you need some money to tide you over after you leave the position. There is no early withdrawal penalty. You still pay taxes on the money that you withdraw but you don't pay a penalty like you would from any other retirement accounts.

I'd love to hear your comments below. 
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