Be the best educator of the year – even when unavoidable circumstances make teacher absences necessary.

It seems there aren’t enough hours in the school day – or year – to teach the lessons necessary for students to progress in their educational careers. While this is a common concern for educators, occasional teacher absences are unavoidable. Working with kids leaves teachers vulnerable to all the school season’s germ-launched attacks on health and becoming ill is inevitable, regardless of how much Airborne is locked away in a private reserve at home.

Remain in control when teacher absences become unavoidable during this year’s flu, cold, and icky-feeling-filled season by using the following methods of teaching students while away from the classroom.

Prepare for the Sub in Advance

Yes, this seems obvious, yet many teachers only prepare for scheduled absences and forget to have a plan in place for when the unexpected happens. Prepare for teacher absences in advance by arranging a cache of lesson plans to guide a substitute through the day.

teacher absencesRemember Logistics

Leave instructions regarding where to find materials and designate responsible student helpers to assist with keeping class running smoothly. The devil is in the details, so don’t be afraid of providing too much information (there’s no such thing). Remember to provide a schedule and clearly outline the morning routine for attendance, lunch count, etc. so that a substitute can start the day with confidence.

Think Outside the Text Book

By assigning projects that cover alternative energy, protecting the environment, and STEM career planning, educators can be sure that the foundation will be set for ongoing conversations following teacher absences. Project-based learning options are perfect opportunities for students to explore concepts independently and prepare for discussions that can occur upon their teacher’s return.

Most importantly, these lessons can be implemented at any time during the school year – regardless of what unit or lesson you were teaching before your unexpected absence. This means you can just gather the necessary materials for these lesson plans and put them somewhere safe for the entire year instead of feeling obligated to constantly update substitute plans according to what you’re teaching.

Everyone Can Learn Something New

teacher absencesInvite substitute teachers to incorporate their own methods, tools, or lessons, if time permits. This will allow the substitute to practice his or her own approach to teaching and potentially allow students to benefit from a fresh perspective.

Request that a substitute teacher include notes regarding any lessons or tools they incorporate, such as the specific approach, student response, and outcome. If students seem to enjoy the fresh method, it could be worth incorporating into class.

Ask for Feedback

Though receiving feedback from a substitute teacher should be expected, be certain to include a personalized note, or form, requesting specific information: Was the entire lesson covered? Did any students struggle or excel with material? Did behavioral issues arise?

Don’t forget that the most important people in the class are the students and their opinions also matter. Following teacher absences, distribute a survey to students on the first day back. Were they comfortable receiving a lesson from this particular teacher? What was their favorite part of the lesson? Would they enjoy having this teacher cover class during future teacher absences – and what are their reasons?

All educators have those days that require teacher absences, but students should not miss out on learning just because the head of the class is out for the day. When substitute teachers and educators develop a relationship built on mutual respect, students will benefit greatly. Educators who prepare in advance for teacher absences by supporting their substitutes will make an impression on school administration, maintain student momentum, and earn the gratitude of the person who is covering their class.

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