For a brief moment in time, many, many moons ago, I was a substitute teacher for about 3 weeks. I was very fortunate to have a job waiting for me at the end of my final student teaching practicum, and only had to step into others' classrooms a handful of times.
I was also fortunate to have done this prior to some of the rapid changes in classroom technology. I always felt really, really bad for my substitute, if they were stepping into my classroom on short notice when we spent a lot of time using some technology -- the SMART Board, video conference suite, etc. etc. I imagine it's only gotten more frustrating for those that are now expected to also be able to wield a Macbook cart, class set of iPads or Apple TV. As much as I tried to be fully prepared and brief the person filling in in my absence, the reality is that many times sudden illness strikes and you really can't spend much time in sub plans.
So what is a person to do when they walk in and see that white beast hanging on the wall? Here are my top 5 tips for substitute teachers when in a school district that has numerous SMART Boards, and you're expected to fill in for teachers that use those IWBs regularly:
1. Take a workshop. Some SMART Board workshops are geared for substitute teachers (I've done a few myself), but even just signing up for your basic 2-3 hour beginner session will give you at least some confidence in turning on the equipment and navigating the lesson. Check to see if there are any professional development funds available to pay for this.
2. Get a license for the software. Most school districts have multiple licenses to hand out, especially for SMART Notebook software. While you won't often be required to create content from scratch, having the program on your computer and playing around with it from time to time will help you maintain basic skills.
3. Create a virtual grab bag. The age old advice given to many a teacher embarking on their first substitute teaching contract is to have a "grab bag" to reach for in case of a.) no lesson plans left for you b.) extra time to fill or c.) a class that has gone waaay off track. Find a few Notebook files that are appropriate for the grade/subject area that you often fill in for. Check out the SMART Exchange for some that are pre-made, or create your own for practice.
4. Get familiar with the Lesson Activity Toolkit. In addition to point #3, I would highly encourage you to at least become familiar with the Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0 within Notebook software. There are many, many interactive tools that are easy to quickly add content to. Virtual dice, spinner, vortex and word generator are just a few of the items that would be worth getting to know.
5. Think outside of the software. If you're really stuck, try to find a way to explore some of the lesson content virtually without the use of SMART Notebook. There are a TON of useful, interactive websites out there that would be perfect for a small group, or even large group, of students to use. Find some good "go to" sites that are geared towards general competency in various subjects. Some of my favourites are the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM) for math, PhET for all things science, and anything developed by the BBC. Want more ideas? Check out my almost-weekly Fresh Look Fridays posts (yes - that was a shameless self plug!).
When all else fails, ask a student for help -- those little techie generation kids are like sponges when it comes to this stuff.