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Journey to MAT – Boot Camp for New Teachers!

Title – Journey to MAT – Boot Camp for New Teachers!

By – Fran Wilson

I decided to enter a MAT program after substitute teaching for six months. I have been called the “Terminator Sub” and was usually (not always) placed in the tough classrooms. After a few assignments, I started bringing a large tote filled to the brim with items that would work for various age groups. My mentor principal called it my Mary Poppins bag.

In my bag, I have copies of the Hieroglyphic Alphabet and brown paper to create our own ancient stories. These work well for grades 3-5. I always look for fun items at the dollar stores for my traveling treasure box. For younger grades, they become upset when their teacher is unexpectedly absent. I always begin class with my speech that I am firm, but fair. We follow classroom/school rules. We will complete work, but will also have fun. Depending on the length of the assignment, I give students several ways to earn special items like homework tickets, extra recess, treasure box trip or treats. If I am only in class one day, younger classes earn a smiley face – half a circle, half a circle, eye, eye, then smile :) – 5 good deeds. This applies to the whole class not individuals. I also give younger students “magic beads” for the bathroom monitors to wear. I have many other props that change depending on the grade level.

One of my last assignments involved a kindergarten class that obviously loved their teacher and was very upset to see that she was missing one morning. I got their attention by telling them that if they were too loud they would wake JoJo. They begged and pleaded for me to tell them about JoJo, but I would only share if they received a smiley face. That afternoon, they earned the smiley face and we sat on the carpet and I brought out my bag with a book. They looked disappointed. I then asked them to say “Wake up, JoJo.” JoJo was a hand puppet and they were so excited. I read the story with JoJo making funny movements. On my last day as a substitute, I still had children ask if JoJo was sleeping.

Never underestimate the power of your subs. Many of us are entering teaching careers and thank you for your mentoring. I have found working long-term sub assignments was my boot camp for teaching. It gave me much more experience than student teaching.


Fran Wilson

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