Junior High Band
Survival Tips

Have a Plan for Substitute Teachers

Preparing lesson plans for a substitute teacher is rarely fun. When you are ill it's difficult to focus and put something down on paper. Other times you need to be away from the school and would like the room to be in one piece when you return. Here are some things that worked well for me:

Students’ choice -- I would give the students their choice of activities, i.e., have a regular rehearsal, watch a video and write a report, have a study period without instruments, have a reading assignment and quiz, etc. When they got to choose what they did they were more cooperative doing it.

Student conductor -- Often the substitute teacher knew little about music and less about band. Before my absence I would have tryouts for student conductors. We reviewed conducting techniques and let those interested try. After the tryouts the band voted for their favorite conductor. The substitute teacher was there mainly to supervise. The student rehearsed the band or at least led the band through the warm-up and concert pieces.

Rewards -- Although I don’t think bribery is the best discipline plan, it worked well when I had to be gone. I asked the substitute teacher to score each class on how quietly they came into class, how quickly they sat down, how polite they were, and how well they followed directions. (A sample report is below. I wish they all had been this good.) When I returned I gave candy bars to the winning class.

Monitors -- I assigned two students in each class (good students who sat on opposite sides of the room) to write down the names of students who were disruptive. If a student’s name appeared on both monitor logs he received three rowdy marks. A monitor only had to get his name on the other log to receive the rowdy marks.

Sub Report -- When I returned, I put all the class scores on the board. After the warm up I would review the scores, read any comments the substitute left, collect the monitor reports, and tell the winning class the bars would be handed out at the end of class. A winning class that made it hard for me that day did not get the bars. That never happened but it was a threat I had to make occasionally.

Substitute Teacher Score Card

Video Disclaimer

The attached videos are not perfect examples of how each tune should be played. They are recordings of junior high students, some of whom have had their instruments for only a few months. Also, they are not professional recordings. They were taken by band parents using home equipment and naturally focusing on their own children.

I include them for two reasons: (1) To give you an idea of what the arrangements are like, and (2) To illustrate the kind of performance you can expect from your junior high students.