Photo © GreenlightForGirls

5 Easy Substitute Teacher Tricks: One For Every Age

The first impression you make as a new substitute is supremely important. Whether your assignment is for one day or one month, the impression you make on those kids will mean the difference between respectfully engaged children, and total chaos. The students will test you. They’ll want to know if you’re a fun substitute, or an army sergeant substitute. In reality, you’ll have to be a bit of both.

Worry not, my fellow sub. There are ways to get your student’s attention, and still foster a fun learning environment. It all depends on their age. Here are 5 Substitute Teacher Tricks, each for a different age group.

1. Kindergarten

These kids are generally fun-loving and rowdy. They will listen to you because you’re an adult. A common challenge is that they’re usually not accustomed to student life yet. Don’t expect them to sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time. A great trick is to have a sing-along. Nothing keeps a young child’s attention more than learning a new tune. Get them singing and dancing along to your movements as soon as you can to help them get all that energy out!

2. 1st-2nd Grade

Kids in this age range are just starting to develop individual personalities. They’re still up for anything, but are likely to question something they don’t understand. Get their brains going with some fun word games and riddles. They will get engaged, and they’ll be yours the rest of the day.

3. 3rd-5th Grade

You’ll have to be firm with these kids. Enter with a decisive walk and write your name on the board. This will immediately assert your authority. Speak clearly and let them know what you expect of them. A reward system is a good way to achieve positive results. They’re still at an age where small things entice them. Let them know if they behave well, they’ll get to pick from the “reward bucket”. You can have small candies, little toys, plastic bracelets, and other fun little things!

4. 6th-8th Grade

You’re now dealing with adolescents. They will likely be more interested in socializing when their regular teacher is absent. Be firm and clear about what you expect from them. If they finish their assignment early, review it again. Have a fun game in your back pocket, just in case. Twenty questions is good for kids in this age range.

5. High School

Don’t be scared, most kids ages 14-18 are relatively self-contained. Kids this age love independent study. Let them know that if they’re quiet, and finish their work satisfactorily, you’ll give them 15 minutes of “study hall” at the end of the period. Let them start their homework, or do work from a different subject. They’ll love you for it!

The idea of walking into someone else’s classroom can be daunting. You must remember not to be too hard on yourself. Let the kids know you’re the boss, and that respect is a two-way street. If they’re respectful to you, you’ll be respectful to them. It’s a good lesson in life, too. For more information, and other substitute teacher topics contact us.

Photo © GreenlightForGirls

Next ArticleA Summer Guide for the Substitute Teacher