I don't know how it is in your district, but here in the Nashville it can be a challenge to secure a sub at times. I feel our school has been fortunate to usually have enough subs to cover classes, but every once and awhile....we find ourselves short handed. Sometimes the sub just cancels at the last minute....and sometimes the need is last minute(when someone unexpectedly gets sick).
Our P.E. teacher is AMAZING!! He has taken double classes for the whole day a couple times when a related arts teacher is out with no sub (thank goodness my subs have always showed...oh shoot...probably jinxed myself!?!!? ha ha). We already see a class & a 1/4 with our classes because we only have 4 related art teachers and most grade levels have 5 classes. So Mr. Mac(the P.E.teacher) was out sick without a sub....and I felt like since he sacrificed for us in the past by taking double classes...that I would return the favor. I did tell the principal I could only do it in the morning, because my afternoon classes had to finish projects that would not allow for me to have double classes(painting & clay).
SO WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE THROWN INTO
A SITUATION LIKE THIS LAST MINUTE???
1) BE ORGANIZED
I have these handy dandy baskets from Dollar Tree. I knew I could grab those and use them for stations in the gym(I do not have enough space for 45 + students in the art room). I loaded each basket up with the supplies I knew I needed...or thought I could possibly need(extra pencils, erasers, sharpeners..etc).
2) BE WISE IN THE PROJECT(S) YOU SELECT TO DO IN SUCH A SITUATION
I decided I'd do a project that could cross over all 3 of the grade levels. This allows you to not have to have a ton of different supplies to switch out. I did change some of my expectations between 2nd grade, 1st grade, and Kindergarten. I had 2nd & 1st cut out their own hats/earmuffs for their snowman heads. They've had much more experience with scissors, and do not take as long to create college elements. For kindergarten I precut the pieces to a hat and had them assemble it. I knew I'd have the time to do the precutting because I saw the classes 2nd, 1st, and then Kindergarten.
3) BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR NOISE/BEHAVIOR.
This is not the normal environment...class make up...or way you normally present information/teach! You can't expect your students to be 100% the normal selves. Be flexible/grace filled...but also set the tone for how you expect them to perform. They don't have to be absolutely crazy just because there are 50 of them in a room!
4) HAVE A CLEAR PLAN FOR CLEAN UP/PROJECT COLLECTION/DISMISSING!
One of the most challenging parts of having 2 1/2 classes at once is the end of class!! Have a clear plan on how you will have them clean up their supplies. Make sure you explain how you want the baskets of supplies put back together...maybe have one as an example so they can see what you want from them. With that many bodies...they will be distract & visuals are always helpful! Have folders, baskets, or some other plan for collecting the work from the different groups of students.
5) EMBRACE THE MADNESS & HAVE FUN!
These situations are hopefully not your norm. When the happen...just ride the wave. It isn't the students' fault this happened...and you need to make sure that you don't respond negatively to kids. Find the fun in the challenge...and laugh along with the students!
YOU CAN DO THIS(Just hopefully not too often!)