Long Term Sub Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



14 thoughts on “Long Term Sub Question”

  1. I stressed about this very issue last year, when I had my baby boy in April and took the last month and a half off. I didn’t get a sub pegged down until a couple weeks before I was due, and while she had some teaching experience and was familiar with CI, it was not her bag. I just explained what my students could do, how they were used to me teaching, and then gave her (horror of horrors) the district textbook and a rough outline of what each class should “cover,” i.e. this class should do the food chapter, please teach them the idiomatic expressions for hungry & thirsty. I made sure to point her to the TPRS supplement (we used Realidades), but I didn’t want to dictate how she taught. If I had had classroom sets of novels and accompanying teacher’s guides, like I do this year, I would have strongly suggested she use those instead.

    I know your situation isn’t quite analogous. 6 weeks is nothing compared to 6 months. But I will say, once I went on leave, I did not care what was happening at school. I’m sure my sub did a fine job, since I did not hear any horror stories when I came back. Based on the student projects I saw on display, I’m sure she did things very differently than I would have. But CI is very forgiving when it comes to gaps in student knowledge. When you come back, just get back on your CI train and keep them moving. They’ll be fine.

    And congratulations!

  2. Thanks Erin. I’m almost looking at it as a sabbatical in a way, I’ll be here for three weeks at the start of the school year if I’m able as we start right after labor day, but then I’ll probably go on ML a week before I’m due. I know I can’t control it all, but that’s a hard realization as a classroom teacher. 🙂 My first was born in May 2011, so it worked out like it did with yours, just til the end of the school year, then I decided to take 1st quarter of the following year as well. I’m glad I have the option of staying home the whole year though.

    I don’t have much in the way of novels yet, as it’s a slow process to acquire them since I am not going to pay out of pocket at this time. I’m sure it will be fine. I just have to let go and breathe.

  3. I think you have the right attitude. Do what is possible and encourage the sub to see the students as HIS/HER students and teach them with love. It will be fine. You can start where you want to when you get back.

    I sympathize…I’ve been out since November and am on sub number 2…who has NO CI knowledge or experience. However, she is bright, funny, fluent and enthusiastic. What more could I ask for?!!

    Your focus will be your family, and that is as it should be.

    love to you!

  4. Suzanne TenBroek

    Thanks again for the responses on this. I’ve had the summer to sit and think and slightly stress out about it all, and then just realized there is nothing I can do about it and I have to just….LET GO.

    I’ll make sure my students check out textbooks this year, as much as I’m loathe to do it, but I’ll let my sub know not to beat them up with grammar and to just do the best she can. I pointed her in the direction of this site and CI methods, but seeing as how she’s working on her credential and has no real experience, I’m not going to go die on the cross for it right now. I honestly am to the point where I really don’t care and I’m more excited to meet my son in October. So I’ll be here, checking in and teaching via CI in spirit this year, but in truth I’ll be focused on my family.

    Thanks for the support and help.

  5. Since Ben’s away I’m hijacking this thread.

    My HR department would like a topic/prompt to give the potential substitute teacher candidates to “teach” for 10 minutes during their interview for my maternity leave position. It doesn’t matter if the non-German speakers (administrators) can “do or understand” the lesson, according to HR. (I will probably/possibly be there too). HR wants to assess their teaching skills (ROFL hahaha) which they can’t really do, because they don’t know what they are suppose to be looking for, as none of them (I would bet) know about CI or the like. (The HR person is a classically trained French teacher).

    My first idea is to give a short passage (2-3 sentences) from an easy reader like Haensel und Gretel that we’re reading and tell them to use the W questions to ask the students questions and get a discussion going. In other words, to get them to circle the short passage.

    My other idea was to give them simple 2-3 target structures (has, wants, gives) and ask them to asking questions by circling. I would also supply them with the bones of that “story” so they know where I’m going with it. I think this might be best because they can “act” it out.

    My goal is to see if the person can be flexible and learn to do circling while I’m gone.

    What do you guys think? Which idea should I pick, or another idea altogether?


  6. Suzanne TenBroek

    Tough call. As much as I’d like to say the three target structure thing would be cool, what if the person totally flubs and they are the only possible sub who could actually teach German? I get that TCI is the best way to go, but I also can’t require my sub to be me either. Plus if the people evaluating don’t know what to look for, what good would it do?

    I hate to ask it, but why is it up to you to supply a lesson plan to a potential interviewee? I didn’t even know I would have to teach a lesson at my interview and just shot from the hip and I got the job, and that was 13 years ago. I’m in much the same boat, and my sub would like to do TCI, but she’s got no teaching experience at all, and has only observed me twice…I’m not expecting miracles. As James Hosler said to me, focus on your family, that’s way more important. Anything a sub does/screws up, you can fix when you return.

  7. I think they will hire a person no matter how well they do or don’t teach the lesson. I think the lesson is just a formality.

    I guess I am much less sure than you that things can be completely “fixed” upon returning!

    Thanks for the perspective!

  8. If HR asked me to give a topic or prompt, I would not provide a lesson plan. I would provide a topic (visiting a restaurant, talking about the weekend, making plans for the evening) or a prompt (How would you help students talk about their weekend? What does reading look like in the classroom?)

    I agree that not everything will be “fixed” when you return. The amount of CI that the students do or do not get while you are gone will affect the rest of their high school experience. If they continue with the language outside of school and after graduation, it won’t matter in the long run; but in the short term, these classes will most likely not have the same amount of “time on task” that they normally would, and that will affect what they and you are able to do in the classroom setting. However, you can certainly get things back on track when you return; it’s just that the train will be “running late”.

  9. I’ll be gone for ten weeks. Around Oct. 10th through Christmas Break.

    Roger – Thank you for the thoughts! I like how you worded things and I am going to use the “weekend” topic. I use that as a basis for our discussion on Fridays in future tense and/or Mondays in the past tense.

    1. Yeah that’s a little different than Suzanne, who is going to be gone for the whole year. I can see why you would want to maintain some kind of rigor so that when you come back in January things are a complete disaster.

  10. This is a tough position to be in, I sympathize. I like Robert’s advice above. Often the choice of subs is out of our control. The best thing that you can do is to let the sub do what the sub does best the way the sub does it best. That way the sub is confident and the students will benefit from that. You will also not have to torture yourself about whether or not the sub is doing things your way. S/he won’t. You will…when you get back. Whatever makes your life while you are out as disconnected from school as possible. In that way, you can focus on what you and your family need!! That is definitely THE most important thing!!

    Sending love and prayers,

  11. I didn’t mean that you would be able to “fix” in in terms of correcting any wrong doing on the part of the sub, I meant exactly what Robert said…you’ll be able to get back to the way you do things, they just won’t be in the same spot they would have been, and that is OK. You’ve got bigger fish to fry. I never understood the teachers who could just leave school at the bell and not put in hours outside of work until I had a family of my own and wanted my free time to be spent with them instead of grading quizzes, tests, and lesson planning all the time. That’s actually what lead me to TPRS/TCI.

    There’s not much you can control if you’re not going to be there for 10 weeks. I’m slated to come back in March – but hoping to be out the remainder of the school year, so I kind of look at it from the perspective of path of least resistance. The sub is going to do what the sub is going to do. Your students will lose time with CI, that is a fact. I know that for mine as well, but it’s also about making sure you truly enjoy your time at home with your new baby as well. Babies don’t stay babies for long – as if evidenced by the fact that I now have a 3.5 year old. 🙂 If you can give the sub a general idea of what you want them to do while you’re away, then great, but don’t stress about it.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben