The Substitute Teacher Bag of Tricks
Every substitute teacher should have their own bag of tricks. It is the one substitute teacher trick that will almost guarantee a great day for you and for your students. No matter what grade or subject you are substituting for, the following items should always be in your bag of tricks.
1. Pens and Pencils – While every classroom has writing utensils stored somewhere, it is best to have these on hand and ready to go. Who knows where the regular teacher stores them or if the teacher locks them up in a cabinet for which you have no key. Students are notorious for not having a pencil and you can’t effectively teach if your students aren’t able to complete their work.
2. Paper – Keep both lined and blank paper on hand. This is another item students frequently run out of or forget at home. Having paper on hand also allows you to make notes about the classroom for both yourself and for the regular teacher. The teacher you are substituting for wants to know how your day went. Don’t forget to leave her a note!
3. Sticky Notes – These are great to have on hand for both quick notes you don’t want to forget and to help keep papers organized. A quick sticky note on top of second period’s papers and then third period’s papers will help their teacher when she comes back to school.
4. Stickers/Rewards – Stickers are not just for the elementary school students. Even high schoolers will enjoy a sticker for a job well done. Catch a student on task? Put a sticker on the top of their work. It will bring a smile to the student and allow the teacher to know exactly who was on task and who wasn’t. Check your local dollar store for inexpensive and fun stickers. You could also stock up on cool pens, erasers, or toys to use as rewards if you’d like.
5. Substitute Binder – A substitute binder is a lifesaver when a teacher has not left any plans for her classroom. Keep it stocked with master copies of word searches, mandala coloring sheets, crossword puzzles and other worksheets for each grade and subject you typically teach. If you find yourself with extra time at the end of the class having copies of these on hand will keep your students busy and out of trouble.
6. Planner and Business Cards – Having your planner and business cards on hand is the best way to show other teachers, and the administration, that you are ready and prepared to take on more substituting assignments. Leave a few of your business cards with your classroom notes for the current teacher. Don’t be shy about handing them out to teachers on the same hallway, leaving them with the secretary or putting a few in the teacher’s lounge. A great substitute is always needed and if your business card is in front of other teachers they will think of you when they need to miss a day.
Being a great substitute teacher is all about preparation. Contact us to learn more about tricks to becoming the best substitute teacher in your district.