First I'm linking up with Tiffani over at Time 4 Kindergarten to talk about substitutes!
I have to say, that after being horribly, constantly sick my first year of teaching, my immune system is now like titanium - I rarely get sick - in fact, I think I took only 1 sick day for myself this year and that was because of a migraine.
On the other hand, I'm the mom of 5 kiddos - and my youngest has severe food allergies to pretty much everything AND severe eczema. Between the 5 of them, they manage to make me use up my sick days every year - and that's with my husband splitting the load and taking his own share of days off to ferry kids to doctor's appointments or stay home with the youngest ones.
At our house, when someone gets sick it goes like this:
Thankfully, I don't have any personal stories of bad substitutes. In past years I always maanged to luck out and get the retired teachers or teachers who had just moved to the district and were subbing to get a foot in the door. This year my assistant was awesome and usually had the class running smoothly - the subs loved her lol! She would take pictures to text to me, and the kids always wanted me to be proud of them, so the pictures worked like a charm at keeping behavior in check :)
My first year of teaching though, the sub in the class next to mine decided not to read the Bus List and just ask the students who rode the bus. There was one little guy who saw this as his shining opportunity to get a free bus ride and lined right up even though his mother picked him up each day! He sauntered right down the hall and onto a bus and meanwhile his mother showed up looking for him. The sub couldn't remember if he had gone a bus, walked home with someone else or was abducted by aliens - and didn't seem to care. Meanwhile mama was getting frantic.
I noticed something was wrong so I walked over and realized we had an emergency situation on our hands - missing 5 year olds are no joking matter! So we called Transportation to contact all the bus drivers to see if any had an extra kiddo. We got all the teachers to start combing the neighborhood - enlisting the older students to help us search. The police were called and it was turning into a BIG DEAL. Meanwhile, that sub packed up her bag and drove off in her car - totally unconcerned that she had lost a child!
We're talking wailing mother, frantic grandparents, police officers starting to set up a command center to coordinate a search, phone trees activated to call all of the other parents in the class to see if he went home with a friend. Nearly every teacher was in tears, praying desperately.
Suddenly, a 5th grader ran up - the daycare down the street had an extra child! Turns out the little guy HAD been on a bus, but didn't answer when the driver called his name for fear of getting in trouble! Luckily he got off the bus at the daycare and not on the street somewhere. I have never been so relieved!
Needless to say, that sub was never hired for our building again!
I did learn a valuable lesson from that experience though - it's not enough to have a bus list in your sub plans or have a sign by your classroom door - you have to make sure that your students know that taking the bus is not okay! Each year I make sure to talk with my students about how the bus drivers take kids home - but only the kids who have signed up for it. If another kid gets on the bus, the driver won't know where to take him and will end up driving him to the wrong home and it will be a very scary situation. Since I explain the bus system explicitly to the children in this way I've never had a case of a child wanting to ride the bus when he isn't supposed to!
So that's my tip for "Wonderful Idea Wednesday" over at Freebielicious today! Make sure your students know how they're supposed to get home - and why it's important not to go home any other way! I always make time for this sometime during the first week of school and I try to do it in a fun way that gets the point across without being scary.
First, I read a book about being lost. There are several wonderful books that tell about being lost in a way that children can relate to with being too scared:
Beaver is Lost is a picture book detailing a beaver's journey after being separated from his family. He eventually finds his way home after several adventures!
Carl and the Baby Duck is about a mother duck asking Carl to help her find her missing duckling. I love the Carl picture books, and this easy reader has great illustrations!
Lost! is about a Bear who gets lost in the city and the boy that helps him find his way home - but when the bear gets home they soon realize that now the little boy is lost!
When Lyla Got Lost (and Found!) is a new story that I just ordered! I ordered this one because it talks about what a child should do if they become lost.
Little Owl Lost is a good one for teaching important details! Little Owl falls out of his nest and his new friend Squirrel tries to help him find his mother. Unfortunately, every time Owl describes his mother, it leads them to the wrong animal - "large" leads to a bear for example. This is great for teaching children they need to know their parents' names and their own full name to help them if they get lost.
I also play this Learning Station video of "5 Little Ducks". My own little guy, Sullivan, loves this video - he always gets sad with the Mother Duck, and cheers when the ducks come back! I pause the video when all of the ducklings are gone and the Mother Duck looks so sad so we can talk about how parents would feel if a child was a lost and how the ducklings might be feeling. Then I play the ending and the children are relieved!
We have a discussion about getting lost, how to avoid it (hint: Don't go home on a bus if you're not a bus rider!) and what to do if you do get lost! I usually do an anchor chart with all of our ideas and discussion points to serve as a visual for a few days too - you'll find the children want to reread the stories again most likely - there's something so relieving about reading about someone being found!
So there you have it - a Wonderful Idea to help you avoid the most horrible feeling in the world - losing a student! Head over to the two linky parties for more great posts!