Monday, January 31, 2011

Substitutes Without a Seating Chart

A quick tip I learned about how to handle not having a seating chart left by the teacher:

I know it's one of substitutes' top annoyances.  I also understand many teachers move students around a lot, rearrange desks, and sometimes have trouble remembering to add or change seating charts.  So what do you do?

I got a tip (I can't remember where) that seemed to solve the problem:

  • Get to class early enough to grab a blank sheet of paper and sketch a makeshift seating chart based on the desk arrangement.  Doesn't have to be fancy, just some little boxes on notebook paper.  It should go without saying to get to work early.  You don't want to have to bother with this as students are walking in the door.
  • As you take attendance, quickly jot down the position of the students who are present.  This helps you to covertly make a seating chart and learn students' real names.  Sometimes, you have crafty kids who don't want to reveal their real names but,  9 times out of 10, they want to be counted present and so they'll tell the truth while calling roll.  Make the seating chart as you're taking attendance without calling too much attention to what you're doing, if you think the class is being sneaky.
  • Once attendance is done, your seating chart should be ready!  Walk around with it, look at the names written in your little boxes, and surprise students that you know their names already!  It's delightful to see how much this throws them off.  If you want them to get in their real seats, just let them know you've already made a seating chart that you'll leave for their teacher at the end of the day, which means the teacher will know who lied to the sub and sat where they wanted.  I'd give them a chance to go to their actual seats without penalty.

Honestly, I'm no longer a big stickler about seating charts.  I used to feel like it was very important to have students exactly where the teacher has placed them, but I feel like if the teacher thought it was really important, I'd have a seating chart!  So, maybe it's really not a big deal.  Another factor is I often feel like the teacher has students sitting in the WRONG seats, with the most talkative kids sitting in within too close a proximity for me to be comfortable.  I move talkative/troublesome kids around all the time, whether it's their assigned seat or not, so I long ago stopped caring so much about seating charts.

But I do understand many subs like seating charts.  I still have a hard time with student names (I find myself saying, "You... in the red shirt!" far too often), and charts are good for that very reason.  Maybe I shouldn't discount them completely!


image credit: microsoft

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