"Johnny has a runny nose, so I let him get a tissue, then someone else needs a tissue, and on and on. A student needs to sharpen his pencil, so others try the same trick, and on and on."

When someone asks to go to the bathroom or needs a pencil sharpened or wants a Kleenex, you have to make a big deal of it, drawing everyone's attention to the request. "Stop what you are doing, please, everyone. John needs to have his pencil sharpened. Who else needs a pencil sharpened? John, please collect pencils from these people. Will you know whose is whose? John, you are in charge of sharpening these pencils and returning them correctly to their owners" or "Mary wants to use the bathroom. Who else needs to use the bathroom? All right, Mary you are first. When you return, Mike may go. Following Mike will be Joan" or "Bob needs a Kleenex. Who else needs a Kleenex." The idea is to draw the attention of the entire class and to take time solving the problem. Leisurely is the word.

Long-term substitutes need to pay attention to the curriculum, but short-term substitutes can be more flexible. Having the students write a composition about their day, to be left for the classroom teacher, is a good idea. You can spend time at the beginning of the day explaining that each student will be responsible for a composition, to be left at the end of the day for the classroom teacher. What will the composition contain? . . .

Each student can keep a chart of his or her day: first hour, second hour, third hour, fourth hour, fifth hour.

Plodding is sometimes better than exciting. Students should be given tasks to accomplish at their desks while you are sitting at your desk (or at a table) correcting work, answering questions, and supervising.

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