A few days ago
Steven B

How do I maintain their attention? I’m a substitute teacher doing the early grades (K-4) for the first time.

I’ve been subbing for quite a few years. But have always done Junior High and High School. Those students, although sometimes not caring, understand what “that’s not acceptable” means and that there is a price to pay for inattention.

Top 4 Answers
A few days ago
Cat Loves Her Sabres

Favorite Answer

Make sure to do lots of small group work and involve the kids in what they’re learning. With the K-2 kids especially, a TON of learning can be achieved based around one book the class reads together. Read the class a short chapter book such as Hoot, then base all you lessons for the month off of the book. I just read this and worked with lesson planning for it, so I’ll give you some ideas. Discuss bullying and bad behavior and solutions to these things, do a current events unit in social studies and have the kids learn about things going on in their area, do a unit on endangered species or predatory birds or the habitats of different animals in science, and work with applying math by working in different elements of the story (be creative and adapt this one to grade level the most.) It’s not up to the kids to interest themselves; it’s up to you to interest them.

A few days ago
Maybe I can help. This is a complex and demanding area of expertise. If you are good at it, the rewards from those regular teachers you sub for will be great and they will call you again and again. The kids can also make or break you. Especially the special ed kids.

Take it easy when you walk into the room.

Check out who is where. If they want to chat you up for a few minutes, it is worth the while because you get more done later. These kids know they are

capable of making your day hell. You don’t have to be their friend, in fact they will disrespect you if you try that one. Have a briefcase chock full of things for them to do. Call it busy work if you want, they can still learn from it. Have the papers in your hand so that when a student is finished with one, you slap another into their hand.

Don’t give them 20 seconds to start chatting up their friends.

No complicated rules on the board, they will try to “beat” the system and you will spend half your time listening to how unfair it all is. No swearing, No shouting, No touching.

I never argue with students. I call them mr. and ms. I don’t ever touch a student, for any reason. And I very seldom raise my voice, choosing to ignore the usual cursing, retorts, and in your face blabber. I also refuse to discuss my personal life, and never talk about religion, sex, or politics, unless it’s a social studies class. If you have a class leader who controls the other kids, they can help you pass out papers. You will

almost always want these types on your side.

I tolerate a certain level of noise when the kids are working, once in a while a teacher will drop in to see what the fuss is all about.

In three years I had to call the principal in once. I sent maybe a half dozen kids to the vice principal or dean.

I never lost my temper. If i’M not calm and in control of the class who is?

Always leave a nice note for the teacher

and try to play down the discipline problems. The kids will appreciate and respect that and remember the next time you come in. So will the deans. The more you work in the same class, the easier it gets. They respect seeing you regularly at the same school.

I remember when kids would see me coming down the hall and I would observe them taking pencils out of backpacks. Then greet me as they got prepared to work.

Most times I give the kids a few minutes

to chat among themselves, listen to music quietly, or work on homework..Only as a reward for doing good work during the class, not automatic.

Special ed kids are just that. If you choose to, you can spend the class disciplining and struggling to maintain control. Relax. Use the same formula you use in a regular class. Lots of papers to connect dots, little math things and even coloring. Also kids in special-ed respond to treats, maybe that has changed. I used to bring things with no sugar, you have to be creative. They also demand to be heard. I give them a few minutes to get it out of their system.

Wouldn’t you know it. I became a licensed psychologist. I ended up working for the government and teaching at the university level. I learned more about negotiation and my own weaknesses

and strengths as a sub, than anywhere.

The truly easy classes are the students

who are self directed and these kids can teach us alot. Of course for these and other advanced classes, forget the bz work. The teacher will have a plan and wants it followed. These classes, too are a delight.

I wish you luck. Much of what i learned was from a one day workshop for substitutes. It was well worth the Saturday and $80.00. Feel free to keep lines of communications open.


A few days ago
It’s called Hands-On!!! You need to be creative and develop ways to integrate games into your teaching so that students are kept busy.

A few days ago
I’m in the same boat… i’ll be reading your answers! Good luck!