Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Cheat Sheets" For Guest Teachers

Hi!  It's Pam from How Long is This Hall!?  I recently wrote at my own blog about some of the ways I plan for a guest teacher in my preschool classroom.  It is always easier to plan ahead for these types of things than find a nice little note left on a table or desk describing all the items the guest teacher could NOT find...or the behaviors that happened because a guest teacher did not know the routine the children were used to!  This is especially true when the children have little language and have difficulty telling an adult that they don't understand why the routine is so different! 

So, I thought I would give you a bit of an idea of the "Cheat Sheets" I make and post around the classroom each year before I have my month off.  These have been invaluable for new people in the classroom during this time period! 

The Cheat Sheets cover basic things that, without knowing the children well, you would never know to do.  Remember, I teach children with special needs, so we do have special diets, food challenges and small extras that must be done in order to make an activity go as smoothly as possible!  But this is, of course, NOT limited to children with special needs- everyone can benefit!

Below are two examples of the cheat sheets posted around my classroom this month for my guest teacher and teacher associate subs.  I posted a total of five cheat sheets around the room this year- simply for those most routine activities in the classroom.  The trick to these is they must be basic, direct and have brief information that someone could read quickly while they are busy in the classroom! 

Have fun creating your own "cheat sheets" for the classroom!  I'm sure you will have at least one guest teacher or teacher associate sub. thank you for taking the time to do this!

                                        Cheat Sheet for Mealtimes:
*One person will need to get food from cart in the hall (at lunch time, pull the cart into the room).
*Go to the refrigerator in teacher work room and grab a gallon of milk.
*Spray all tables and sensory table with bleach/water.  Wait 2 min. and wipe down.
*Set all food on top of sensory table.
*Get plates and spoons out from the white cabinet.
*Cut D, D and A’s food into bite sized pieces. (Start with small amounts of each food on plates- they can have more as they finish). Cut J’s food into manageable pieces.  K, C and T do not need food cut.  Put food on plates.
*Fill plastic cups 1/2 -3/4 full with milk.  Put ½ can of Pediasure in C’s plastic cup.  Put the straw and top on and put this at his place.
*Put C’s divided plate at the table- open, but leave in the package a fruit bar (put this in the large space), put some cheerios in one of the small spaces and a tiny bit of something for lunch or breakfast that is DRY. (NOTHING wet or sticky).
*Place plates, spoons and cups on table.  By this time, children should be washing hands and sitting down.  Remind them to wait to sing.
*Sing “Tick-Tock”.  Say: “Now you may eat”.
*One adult needs to be at each table for mealtimes at all times.
*Watch D and D for “stuffing” (overfilling their mouth with food).  Remind them to chew their food or “eat the food in your mouth”. 
*Children may need reminders on asking for “more”, saying “all done” or saying “please” and “thank you” (Just say “you could say thank you”)
*All children must stay seated if they are eating or drinking.
*When they are finished they need to say, sign or point to a picture on the picture board at the table “All done”.
*They need to put their plate and spoon in the garbage, pour any leftover milk into the sink and put the cup in the blue basket on the sensory table.  They then go to use the bathroom/ brush teeth in the AM or check their schedule.
NOTE:  Children are NEVER forced to eat or drink anything.  They are however, encouraged.  The children all need to start with a little of everything. 

           Cheat Sheet for Small Group/ IEP Goal Work Time:
*Announce to the children who you will work with first and what the other children will be doing with teacher associates

*Have the child you are working with come to one of the tables with you.

*Grab the child’s supplies you will need and the child’s yellow IEP goal folder

*Put up the presentation board (behind magnet board) to block the rest of the group.

*Put out one activity and have the child work on this with you. 

*Start by providing no assistance.  If child is unable to do it independently, provide minimal assistance.  If child is still struggling provide more assistance.  If this does not work, assist the child in doing the task with you (either hand over hand or taking turns).

*Find the appropriate spot on the rubric- mark the tracking sheet with the total the child did for that section.  Only mark this if the child could complete this task with the appropriate amount of assistance listed (generally no assistance).

*You will not be working on everything each day.  Make changes if needed (if you can’t get through everything or child is having a rough time, just try later).

*Our goal is to track everything at least once during the week.  For C and K work with them when they are there!  They have been missing quite a bit of school.

*Mark the appropriate spots on the tracking sheet AFTER SCHOOL for the behavior/compliance and social goals.  (Keep track informally throughout the day- use sticky notes to jot things down or the spiral notebook for anecdotal notes hanging on the white cabinet).

*Make sure tracking sheets are filled out weekly.  I need to enter this when I return!

*For most children STRUCTURE is key! 
          *A: Only 3 items out at a time if you are asking him to find colors/shapes/item.  Tap his elbow if he doesn’t respond.  Count to 10 slowly in your head to give him some processing time!
          *C:  Put only ONE item at a time on his grey tray!  Ask him to identify only one item at a time.

 NOTE:  Keeping things speedy and flowing along is key to calendar time!  DO NOT let this drag on!  The children will become restless and there WILL be behaviors.  Follow the routine, but keep it moving at a good pace.
NOTE: Keep children on track and keep things positive.  If it is a really bad day, simply try pulling the child later at centers.


  1. These cheat sheets are a great idea!! I also teach special needs students in a very small environment, so if 1 staff member is out is changes all of the classrooms. These would help out other teachers and paraprofessionals as well. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    1. Charlene- so glad these could help! It's easy to forget how many little things we do during the day that others may not know! (and as we all know, those small changes can really throw the kids off!)

    2. Very interesting and informative for us pre-k special needs people. Would love to see the others! Thanks!

    3. I would be interested in seeing your rubric used for scoring student performance during work time. Thanks.


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