Take Out the Substitute with This Camera+YouTube Trick

I read an article lately by Nancy Flanagan called, “Let’s Get Rid of Subs.”  Of course she’s talking about substitute teachers and not sub sandwiches.  But for me, her article only reiterated feelings that I already had.

The Frustrations…

Have you ever labored past midnight, or even woken up an hour earlier to piece together a day of sub-proof plans?  Teachers don’t like taking days off from school.  We’ll deny the fact that we’re sick, because planning for a sub takes more time and effort than being in the classroom ourselves.  And for what?  A day where the students can stay busy with something meaningful while the sub provides the mandatory supervision?  
I won’t lie.  It was kind of satisfying when the sub wrote very little notes and said, “Thanks for the great plans.  Everything went well.”  The extra hours seem to have paid off…until you get to school the next day and the students bum-rush you with questions, because they’re more confused than when you left.  Talk about frustrated!

Take Out the Middle Man…Or Woman

In Flanagan’s article, she offers some recommended changes to the substitute teacher process/role in schools.  I don’t really see these changes happening soon, especially when one suggestion is hiring more full-time teachers.  I know my school district can’t afford that.  So here’s something I did last April when I was gone for a week…that’s right…A WEEK!

Camera App + YouTube: Take 2

In my previous post, I shared how the Camera App and a class YouTube account can be used for some powerful self-analysis.  Now with the same setup, I can provide my students (and sub) with direct, explicit instructions for the day.
  1. Use the Camera App to record your instructions for the day…one video per class.
  2. Upload videos to YouTube, making them available to those with the link. Don’t make them public.
  3. Email sub (get email address ahead of time) the class schedule with the links to the videos.  Be sure to attach any handouts that may need to be printed as well (unless you already did this).
That’s it!  Uploading the videos is what takes the most time.  
If you’re in a school that is not 1:1, not a problem.  Make sure your sub has a computer and projector, and your students should be able to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

Sub Participation


My sub would email me back everyday on how things went, and I was able to adjust my plans accordingly for the next day and make new videos.  I would like to add that my substitute’s notes where the most in-depth I have seen yet…and I’ve had her as a sub before.  

In the end, my sub said she found this process to much more beneficial for her.  Oh…and the students found it more useful too.
Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!

P.S. You could essentially do the same process with a laptop that has a webcam, but how have you tried to take out the substitute?
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2 responses to “Take Out the Substitute with This Camera+YouTube Trick

  1. My [current] principal and I discussed getting rid of subs and using methods like this. I think it just takes more prep but would be totally worth it! Last year, I skyped with a class while I was out of state..obviously couldn't do it all day, but was readily available if needed. Hmmmm

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  2. I would have been available too, but this particular week off was the birth of my newest son, and the hospital didn't have wireless. The sad thing about the whole thing is we still paid the sub $110 a day. I figured since she was getting paid, she could make the copies.

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