Raise your hand if you enjoy writing sub plans. What, no hands going up? You mean you don't enjoy the often tedious, time-consuming task of writing lesson plans for a substitute teacher? Me neither. I have yet to meet a teacher who does. While writing sub plans, have you ever thought, I wish I could just tell the teacher and students what I want them to do while I'm gone? Ladies and gentlemen, you can. I want to share with you something magical, something that will change your life. Okay, it won't change your life, but it will save you time. I introduce to you...audio sub plans.
Like life, substitute teachers are like a box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get sometimes. There are some incredible substitute teachers out there and, unfortunately, there are some not-so-incredible ones. What if you spend two or three hours writing really detailed sub plans, but the substitute doesn't read them or misinterprets what you wrote? All that time spent was wasted. Enter audio sub plans. Instead of writing it all out, record a short message for the guest teacher and students. Then place the audio file on your classroom computer's desktop or burn it to a CD. Now, all the teacher has to do is double-click the file or play the CD and...Bingo -- your message, spoken with your own voice, will be heard as you intended. All you need to include in your written plans is a short sentence telling the guest teacher to play the audio file for the students. And don't underestimate the power of your voice when you're not there. I teach fifth grade, and the ability to insert a reminder in an audio message about classroom behavior is extremely powerful.
Click here to listen to a message I created for my students explaining what they were going to do during a math lesson when I was out of the classroom one day.
So, how can one record audio sub plans? There are many ways to easily record your voice, but three tools I would recommend are Audacity, GarageBand, or your smartphone. Audacity is a free download for PC and Mac, and GarageBand comes preinstalled on all Macs. Both are incredibly easy to use. If you're not familiar with these programs, you can watch some short tutorial videos I created that will show you just how easy it is to create an audio file using these pieces of software. Since you're not looking to create a polished work of art, there isn't a need for editing or adding music, so the process consists of simply clicking the red record button, speaking your message, clicking the stop button, and saving the message as an MP3 file. That's it. If you prefer, you can also use the recording feature of your smartphone. Just a few days ago, I recorded a message for a substitute teacher and my students using my iPhone. Using the Voice Memos app, I recorded my message, emailed it to my classroom's computer, and saved the file on the desktop. Quick, painless, and my message, in my exact words, made it to my students (and my substitute loved it).If you haven't yet tried creating audio sub plans, I highly encourage you to give it a try. You, your students, and your substitute teacher will be glad you did.
Brent has worked in the field of education as a teacher and administrator for 25 years. He is currently Principal of Alta Murrieta Elementary School in Murrieta, California. Read more about Brent here.
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