When substituting, there will be times when students complete all their work with time to spare. The free time that this creates can involve risks, one of which is losing control of the classroom.
Keeping students busy is a proactive way to prevent them from finding their own diversions. We recommend using educational activities to maximize student learning during free time. It’s helpful for substitutes to come to the classroom with backup plans for when free time occurs to ensure this time is both productive and safe. Here are some ideas:
Consult the lesson plan for extra activities.
As a substitute, it’s essential that you follow any lesson plans left for you before going “off-script.” Many teachers will leave extra activities for you to do with the class in case you run into some free time.
Ask students to reflect on what they learned.
Reflecting on a lesson is a great opportunity to check the students’ understanding of the material. It will allow you to identify areas that students may need additional help with. Reflecting on the lesson is also a great way for students to develop their critical thinking skills.
Create a chart to reinforce the lesson.
Creating a chart as a class is a simple activity to promote student interaction and boost their understanding of the content. It’s a great way to reach both visual and auditory learners.
Read aloud to the class.
Reading aloud to students is a great way to develop their reading skills. It gives them a reading role model, improves their vocabulary, and creates a sense of community within the classroom. When choosing a book from the classroom library or bringing one with you from home, make sure it’s age and school appropriate!
Have students draw a picture.
Younger students will enjoy drawing a picture to go with the lesson, and it’s a fun way to reinforce their learning. Some students may enjoy showing their masterpieces to the rest of the class.
Pair students up to work through a lesson together.
Students teaching students makes them more familiar with the lesson, and it can also help improve their confidence. Working with a buddy is an excellent way to improve speaking skills without the intimidation of speaking in front of the whole class. This activity works best with older students.
Play an educational game that pertains to the lesson.
Educational games can improve student focus, present the information in a new and interactive way, and give the class the opportunity to know each other better. Check out this article for 21 Classroom Games to Boost Teacher Effectiveness and Student Learning.
We hope these creative ways to fill free time in the classroom come in handy next time you find yourself in this situation!