Though everyone looks forward to the end of the school year, the time is not without challenges. Grades are due, and records must be finalized and filed. Evaluation meetings are scheduled in between school ceremonies and end-of-year picnics. Classrooms must be packed up to facilitate the deep summer cleaning. Not to mention, students are at high energy and low attention levels in anticipation of the approaching summer vacation.
In the midst of all this chaos, a teacher absence during the final weeks of school can really throw off the already tenuous balance. What happens during teacher absences at the end of the term, and what can be done to minimize the negative effects? What survival tips do substitute teachers need to manage these end-of-year placements effectively?
The Most Hectic Time of the School Year
Without a doubt, those last few weeks of the school year are the most hectic. Academically, things are winding to a close with final exams in process, cumulative grades being calculated, and promotion/retention decisions being made. Students are feeling the pressure, and parents often have questions and concerns.
Administrators are busy too, as the school year draws to a close and teacher evaluations are due. Appointments are often lined up back to back, and the stress can be overwhelming. In addition, there are speeches to write, ceremonies to attend, and awards to present during students’ last few days of school.
If that wasn’t enough, nearly everyone has reached the end of their rapidly fraying rope. Summer is so close, students can taste the freedom. Teachers have so much on their plates that it often takes a personal toll. And though probably the most difficult time to be away from the classroom, sometimes a teacher absence is necessary and a daily substitute must step in.
Keeping the Peace and Pace During an End-of-the-Year Teacher Absence
When a teacher absence is unavoidable during the last week of school, keeping students engaged may present a challenge. If a lesson plan is available, it is important to follow it. But due to a lack of resources and variable circumstances, having an end-of-the-year toolkit and some “go-to” activities can be a lifesaver for a substitute teacher. Here are a few suggestions:
- Keep your cool. With so much going on at this busy time, things can quickly become stressful and out of hand. Substitute teachers should approach an end-of-year placement with a calm head and a sense of humor.
- Plan for active engagement. The days of quiet and focused concentration are probably behind you for this school year. In addition, by this time of year, many teachers have begun to pack up their classrooms for the summer. Planning for some active projects that require minimal supplies will engage even those students most distracted by the coming summer vacation.
- Tapping students’ expertise. For a quiet paper and pencil activity, ask students to write a letter of advice to an incoming student in their grade level. Explain that you would like to share their expertise as veterans of the current grade level with new students entering in the fall. Expect heartfelt reflections as well as some funny advice once students pour out their reflections and recommendations on paper.
Seeking Capable Substitutes
Teacher absences that occur late in the school year can be extra challenging at an already chaotic time of year. For resourceful, professional substitute teachers capable of handling these last-week-of-term absences, look no further than a substitute teacher staffing agency.
With widespread resources, staffing agencies recruit and hire top-notch candidates, who can handle even end-of-year challenges. Since they are trained in a variety of instructional strategies, developmentally appropriate classroom management techniques, and a range of special needs interventions, professional substitute teachers are ready to tackle these challenging placements. With passion and energy for teaching, high-quality substitutes will add value to your school year, even as it winds to a close.
Contact ESS for help finding professional daily substitute teachers who will passionately and capably staff your schools from the first day of the school year until the last. With genuine caring and unmatched skills, they will implement safe and appropriate lessons that engage students and keep them learning through teacher absences, regardless of when they occur.
Phil has been supporting school districts across the country for more than 12 years. He works hands-on with districts implementing customized solutions to improve their substitute teacher and support staff programs. When he’s not increasing districts’ fill rates, Phil can be found swinging his clubs on a golf course.