Dear Barbara ...
I've created the Dear Barbara column as a way for subs to get answers to questions about any subbing topic or suggestions that may help you solve a specific problem in substitute teaching.

If you'd like to submit a question, please click here and be sure to include your name and home town. Answers to the best questions will be published here.

What's the best way to “warm up” the class for learning?

Dear Barbara,

In your book, Substitute Teaching from A to Z, you talk about the importance of introducing yourself to the class as a warm up. I have no trouble in the lower grades. But when I teach High School students, I feel uncomfortable with my personal introduction. Are there any other tricks? I need some help!

Eric, from Detroit

Dear Eric,

Many High School classes begin with “bell ringer” activities. These are simple questions, posted on the board for students to answer in their notebooks. They serve as a way to get the class settled down and focus. If you are lucky, the classroom teacher will have provided a “bell ringer” activity for you.

If not, a good sub will have a back up plan. Keep some special “bell ringers” of your own in your Bag of Tricks. There are many wonderful resources on line to help you.

My favorite is The History Channel website. It gives you a great way to start your class. Choose an event that occurred to coincide with today's date. You will have a choice. Choose one that's appropriate for the content area. Write it on the board. Have students write what they know about the event. Let it be a topic for class discussion.
Students will look forward to this activity each time you sub. Everybody learns something when you start your day with a fun fact from This Day in History.

Substitute Teaching from A to Z

How to Use this Book

Subbing Resources

Interesting Subbing Facts

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