While the Math Teacher Is Out
December 07, 2005
As a secondary math teacher and the new teacher advisor in our school district, I understand very well that math teachers can sometimes be frustrated when they miss class and need a substitute. Oftentimes subs are not able to teach the math, and the teachers don't want to waste any days they are gone, especially if they have to be out more than one day.
At the middle school level, with detailed lesson plans, it is totally reasonable to expect the substitute to present new material.
The only time I think that it would be difficult to present new material at the high school level is when a substitute is in an Algebra 2 or higher-level class. In those cases, the students are usually motivated enough that you could encourage them to read a section, take notes on the section, and try some of the problems independently.
Then, when the regular teacher returns, he/she can present the material and spend time going over questions that the students had. This is also a great time to have the students spend some time working in small groups.
As the regular teacher, your new teachers should be able to decide which problems the students should be able to complete without their assistance and expect the students to have at least that much work completed when they return to the classroom.
I have done all of these things, and they have always worked well. I have also had students write word problems related to the current chapter we are covering, create and define vocabulary for a chapter or unit, and of course, throwing some extra review worksheets that go clear back to the beginning of the semester or year never hurts anyone.