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U.S. Students Rank Worst in New Study

The job of a substitute teacher is tough enough, especially when dealing with sleep-deprived students. Sleep is a fundamental need for all children. Not only do children get cranky and unruly when they lack sleep, but according to a new study, it affects their ability to learn.

While nutrition and family income have previously been associated with academic performance, now quantity of sleep has also been shown to play a role, according to a Boston College analysis.

The study, which draws on data culled from tests taken by more than 900,000 students in 50 countries, found that the U.S. has the greatest proportion of students whose academic performance, particularly in math and science, suffers due to poor sleep, with 73 percent of 9and 10-year-olds and 80 percent of 13 and 14-year-olds affected.

Those rates are significantly higher than the international average of 47 percent and 57 percent, respectively.

The top five countries where poor sleep hampers learning are:

1. United States

2. New Zealand

3. Saudi Arabia

4. Kuwait

5. Australia

The study found variations within countriestoo. For example, middle school students in Colorado are more sleep deprived than their counter parts in Massachusetts.

The low level of sleep in affluent countries like the United States and Saudi Arabia is attributed to students having cell phones and tablets at their fingertips literally. The light from the screen, held close to the face, makes it harder to fall asleep.

If you’re interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d love to hear from you!

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Summarizing the Many Benefits of Substitute Teaching

With the US economic recovery moving along slowly, Americans of all ages and demographics are discovering the benefits of substitute teaching.

While these benefits are pretty obvious, it is nonetheless important to take a closer look at them. First and foremost, of course, is the flexibility that substitute teaching providers.

During busy school years, your typical substitute teacher can essentially work as much or as little as they want to. Substitute teachers can also plan ahead. For example, they can work a lot during the school year and save money knowing they’ll be in good shape when the summer comes.

Substitute teaching also bolsters your resume and in most cases, the pay is quite good. The typical daily rate for a teacher can range from $60-80, depending on the location. Last but not least, substitute teachers get to, well, teach children. And could be more important than that?

Remember that SubSidekick is here for any other your substitute teaching management needs and please contact us should you have any questions about our services. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Do You Have What It Takes to be a Substitute Teacher?

If you’re in-between jobs and have a background in a particular subject – such as English, history or a foreign language – becoming a substitute teacher can keep your head above water. But just because substitute teacher jobs are in demand in some school districts doesn’t mean you should apply for work.

Sure, being a sub can put cash in your pocket and fill your days as you search for permanent employment. This work, however, is not for everyone.

Before submitting your application, consider whether you have what it takes to be a substitute teacher.

  • How do you deal with last-minute notifications? In a perfect world, substitute teachers would always receive a 12-hour notice of work. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, with many substitute teachers receiving work calls as early as 5:30 a.m. There is no consistency and being a sub means always being ready to work.
  • How well do you handle change? What’s more, how do you deal with different challenges? You don’t know what you’ll face in each classroom. Some kids will be polite and happy, whereas others will test your patience.
  • Can you improvise? The teacher may not leave work for the day. This can happen when the teacher is away longer than anticipated. Do you have what it takes to keep the class under control and busy, despite limited direction.
  • Do you like children? Children can be impetuous and chatty, and if you don’t like being around kids, this makes for a very long day and you’re likely to lose your patience quicker.

Remember that SubSidekick is here for any other your substitute teaching management needs and please contact us should you have any questions about our services. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Photo © ReneeBertrand

The Best Substitute Teacher Treats Each Day Like An Interview

What Color Is Your Parachute? Guide to Rethinking Resumes: Write a Winning Resume and Cover Letter and Land Your Dream Interview, by Richard N. Bolles is a recent book that illustrates some of the changes in hiring that have taken place in the past decade. Although it doesn’t focus specifically on education, it supports why it is so important for a substitute teacher to always be striving for success. Bolles explains that candidates are more likely to find success in the job market, not by compiling a strong resume, but by finding opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities. Substitute teachers have this opportunity every time they are assigned a job.

There is a misconception that substitute teachers are glorified babysitters, incapable of carrying out proper lessons plans in the absence of the regular classroom teacher. To be an excellent substitute teacher, you cannot let this become a self-fulfilling accusation. It’s easy to coast through a substitute assignment if you view it as nothing more than quick supplemental income. If you are an educator who aspires to transition into a fulltime teaching position, substitute teaching may be the gateway into the profession.

Here are some general tips that will help you treat each day like an interview:

On time means five minutes early

Arrive at your building a few minutes early. This will not only give you time to better prepare for the day’s tasks, but it will also demonstrate that you are professional and dependable. Also, don’t race out of the building at the end of the day. A substitute teacher who volunteers to stay at dismissal and assist with bus duty speaks volumes to administrators.

Dress the part

Some schools have a lax dresscode for teachers, but you should always dress as a professional. Arriving at a job in professional attire shows that you are committed to your assignment and you are taking it seriously.

Be assertive

Many subsitute teachers bring a book, newspaper, or computer tablet to help pass the time. If you are hired as a substitute, you are in the school to work. Don’t spend downtime sitting idle at the teacher’s desk. If another employee at the school witnesses this, it immediately sends the wrong impression about your work ethic. Instead, stop down to where you first reported for the job and ask if you can assist with anything. Even if all rooms are fully staffed, schools can always use an extra set of eyes in the hallways or cafeteria.

Bolles explains in his book that a job candidate should find ways to demonstrate positive characteristics because “doing is more important than telling.” Your unfaltering work as a substitute teacher will help employees see your potential firsthand. Contact us for more ways to maximize substitute teaching as a way to transition into an opportunity for long term employment.

Photo © CubaGallery

A Summer Guide for the Substitute Teacher

As summer comes crashing toward your doorstep, it is once again time for substitute teachers to devise a plan to get through the coming months. For all, it should be a time for some relaxation and reflection. For others, it is time to boldly go where a school year cannot take you.

For some folks, this means keeping up financially. Since substitute teaching is at a premium during the summer, some may want to look into teaching for a summer school or summer camp. Begin looking early in the spring for the best chances at obtaining a paying job. Other professional endeavors may include summer nannying, sitting, or tutoring. This will keep you current working with the population that you most want to deal with, whether the environment be leisurely or paced to progress in an area of study. Scoring standardized testing might be an option depending on where you live.

Besides employment in areas dealing with children, other types of seasonal or part time jobs can be found. Some areas near big cities or tourist attractions will need people to fill all sorts of roles, from bicycle tours to selling burgers at a local ball game, cleaning hotel rooms to fishing. Find your fun spot and follow that to a job that’s right for you during the hot summer months. Other possible options include temp agencies and house painting to round options out.

For substitute teachers who wish to extend their professional side, summer is a time to improve your credentials. You could take a course online or from a local college. This is one way to update your certifications or increase the CEUs going toward that status. Some workshops travel throughout the summer and set up shop in hotels, where they rent a hall to teach the masses when teachers can get refreshed on the latest in skills and techniques. It’s a great opportunity to keep up with the local curriculum. Networking is a sidebar to these gatherings to know where the best places to sub are located. Another is to be ahead of the game by seeing if your district uses the latest technology, Sub Sidekick, to get substitute teachers in place quickly. Contact us to see if you are ready for the upcoming school year.

No matter how a substitute teacher decides to spend their summer months, it is always a goal to have a plan that will help you maintain or gain your strengths into facing a new school year fully refreshed both personally and professionally.

Photo © CubaGallery

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

Photo © ToniVC

Substitute Teacher Tricks – Time Management Game

Experienced teachers will attest to good planning as the reason why they have so few discipline problems in their classrooms. When students are bored, confused, or sitting idle, they are certain to find trouble. Sometimes this happens despite the best planning; students may finish an activity quicker than expected or the pacing of the lesson was underestimated. Regardless, every substitute teachers knows that the final 10 minutes of a class period can be the most dangerous when students have completed all work and have nothing to do. Here is a simple teacher trick that students love – it will keep them out of trouble and make it easy for you to manage the class.

Game: Motion Detector

Target Audience: Students in grades K – 8

Materials needed: None

Overview: One student is chosen to be the leader and another is chosen to be the detective. The leader leads the group in a series of hand gestures, claps, and movements as the detective attempts to guess who is leading.


  • Have students sit in a circle, either on their desks or on the floor. They need to able to see each other reasonably well.
  • Begin by choosing a detective. Ask this student to move away and face with his back to the group.
  • With the detective unable to see, silently choose a leader by pointing to a student. Ask the rest of the group to nod their heads in confirmation if they see who is the leader.
  • The leader will now begin to do some kind of hand movement such as snapping fingers, clapping hands, etc. and the rest of the group will do the same. Whenever the leader changes to something new, the group will follow the pattern.
  • Ask the detective to rejoin the group and stand in the center of the circle. The detective gets three guesses to identify the leader.
  • If necessary, impose a 30 second time limit for each guess to keep the game moving smoothly. Also, encourage the leader to change the hand movement frequently to keep the game interesting.
  • After three guesses or when the leader has been identified, the round is over. The detective can rejoin the group and new students can be chosen for each role.

Rounds of Motion Detector can continue indefinitely until the class period is over. Students enjoy the competitive nature of the game and find delight in coming up with creative things for the leader to do. Motion Detector works as a great time management technique. The next time you find yourself in a classroom with time to spare, remember that the sound of students clapping in unison is far better than the alternative!

Contact us for more tricks and tips for better substitute teaching.

Photo © ToniVC

Photo © Voguemarie2010

Long-Term Substitute Teacher Can Build Confidence

Let’s face it.  If you want to become a well respected and gifted teacher, you are going to need practice.  Getting in front of a class as much as possible is the key to becoming everything you ever wanted to be.  This is why spending time as a long-term substitute teacher is a great way to build confidence on your way to becoming a full time teacher.

Making The Commitment

The first thing you need to do is make the commitment to becoming a substitute teacher.  Getting the proper qualifications is not the hardest thing in the world, but you need to be prepared.  Most any substitute teacher will either need a Bachelors degree or the proper education classes from an accredited university.  They will also have to get certified before even being able to teach with a supervisor.  In the end, making the commitment is the best thing to do.

Get In It For The Long Haul

Whether you are planning on teaching different classes each day or doing a long term week when the normal teacher is on leave, you should use this time to really learn your craft and get more comfortable in front of a class.  Nerves are a killer and taking every chance you can to squash them will help you out immensely.  This is going to be your career so you should get as much practice as you can in the minor leagues, so to speak, before you get moved up to the main team.

When it comes to being a substitute teacher, making the commitment then staying in it for the long haul until you become an expert are the keys to truly becoming successful.  If you cannot accomplish these, then you should find another career path.  If you are a substitute teacher looking for work, please contact us.

Photo © Voguemarie2010

Photo © DallasISD2008Bond

Tips That Will Make A Good Substitute Great

Anyone who has ever started a new job can attest that no matter how prepared you may be, there is always a learning curve. Because substitute teachers often spend each day in a new classroom with new students,that learning curve never quite goes away. Undoubtedly, as a substitute, you will make mistakes. However, learning from the mistakes of others will make you a better substitute teacher. Here are three simple tips that will make a good substitute great. For more tips, visit our website or feel free to contact us!

Communicate expectations
As a substitute, you only have a limited amount of time to establish yourself in the classroom and then accomplish the day’s goals. To do so, you must communicate your expectations to students in a manner that is grade appropriate and clear. Your role in the classroom is the same as the primary teacher, even though some students may not feel that is the case. One good tip for establishing expectations with a class is to write a step-by-step set of tasks on the board. This will provide the class with a visible reminder of their responsibilities and will help you maintain focus for yourself and your students.

Keep good records
Classroom teachers appreciate a substitute who can be relied upon to make their transition back into the classroom as unobtrusive to student learning as possible. It is important that you keep good records of all of the happenings during the day so that the primary teacher can return confident in what must be accomplished. It’s a good idea to keep a notepad handy with a running log of any student discipline problems, absences or tardies, or challenges the students may have had with the material that was left for you to cover. This simple act will demonstrate that you were invested in the class as well as the responsibilities charged to you by the teacher.

Go above and beyond 
It is likely that there will be down time in your schedule because most teachers have responsibilities such as department meetings or personal planning time tht are planned into their daily routine. Rather than sit idle in an empty classroom, use this time to volunteer your services to other teachers in the building. Something as simple as offering to make photocopies will demonstrate your dedication to the school and will keep your name fresh in the minds of other teachers who may soon require a substitute. It’s a good tip to check in when possible with the secretary or support staff in the building who is in charge of coordinating substitute services.

If you’re interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d love to hear from you!

Photo © DallasISD2008Bond

Photo © NaliniPrasanna

A List of Substitute Teacher Tips

Being a substitute teacher isn’t an easy feat. Students that are normally well behaved for their usual teacher can often be difficult when a substitute comes in. If you are just beginning your career here are some substitute teacher tips that you should know.

When you accept any job as a substitute, make sure to look at a map of the school district. It is important for you to arrive at the school on time. You want to avoid traffic at all costs, even if you have to leave a few minutes earlier than you normally would. If you happen to be early, just remember that it is always better than being late. It shows that you are reliable and it will give you time to get to know the classroom. When you arrive find out where the teacher keeps extra supplies and don’t forget to ask where the lunch room and copy machine are.

Each school has a different way to handle fire drills. Find out how the school handles them, so if there is ever a fire drill you are prepared. Ask another teacher where your class goes in case of a fire drill. It is also a good idea to know where lesson plans are located. If you are subbing because there was an emergency, the lesson plans may be located in the office. Carry a blank seating chart with you, as one may not always be available. When the students come in, ask them their names and fill out the chart.

Keep track of the days you teach, in case there is a mistake in your payroll. To do this we recommend carrying a small notebook in your purse or bag. Write down the date, room number and the name of the teacher you subbed for. You may want to take notes on different schools as well, in the event that you get called back and need to be refreshed on policies. Make sure to let the students know that you are in charge and everything should go smoothly. If you want more information please feel free to contact us.

Photo © NaliniPrasanna