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How To Be Chosen As A Preferred Sub

What do schools look for when making their Preferred Sub Lists? These lists are created by teachers and school administrators and filled with names of subs they know they can count on EVERY time. Often times, the same traits are looked for when deciding who makes the list, and who doesn’t.

What are some traits that schools consider important in substitute teachers? A preferred-sub is:

  • Patient with students
  • Reliable in following directions
  • Adaptable to new situations
  • Focused on details
  • Willing to work hard

Making efforts to demonstrate these traits while working will pay off in the long-run. They make a big difference not only for the teacher you are subbing for, but also for the teachers around you. These are personality traits that come easily for some, and not so easily for others. However, they are also all things that subs can work on and strive to improve.

By following this advice, you can become the kind of substitute teacher that makes the list every time. To learn more about this topic and others like it, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.


Do I Want to be a Long-Term Substitute Teacher?

Here’s the scenario: you have been working regularly as a daily substitute in a school. You really enjoy the students and the staff, and you find daily assignments to be engaging and rewarding. You have recently learned that a long-term substitute position has become available in the school. Should you pursue this opportunity?

A long-term substitute job is different from day-to-day jobs, but some teachers find them worthwhile. For one, long-term jobs are a strategic opportunity to gain valuable classroom experience if you are seeking a permanent teaching position. But they are also nice just for the consistency in pay and routine. Before accepting a long-term placement, consider these factors.


When you are teaching in a long term position, you assume all roles and responsibilities of the classroom teacher. While this likely means more work and responsibility, it’s an excellent opportunity to gain authentic experience. This looks great on a resume!

Time frame

Every long-term substitute position is unique; the duration will be discussed beforehand, but this often has to be fluid to accommodate the needs of the school or the teacher who has gone on leave. Recognize that a long-term placement will require you to work regularly. Many substitute teachers enjoy flexible hours and the ability to not work on days when there are personal conflicts or other family or employment obligations. This flexibility is not an option with a long-term placement.


Some long-term positions entitle you to a similar compensation package as a full-time teacher. This might include a salary negotiated by the school or teachers’ union, health insurance, or other healthcare-related benefits. Compensation will vary from district to district so make sure to explore this before accepting the position.

Accepting a long-term substitute position can be a rewarding opportunity. If you choose to accept a long-term position, we can help get you through the experience! Contact us for more information, or check out our blog for excellent teaching tips and resources.


Busting Student Boredom: 5 Activity Books

The days will soon grow shorter and colder. Kids will find themselves spending more time indoors, and they’ll undoubtedly grow bored. When it’s time to send your students home for the holiday break, give them a few ideas for boredom-busting activities. Their parents will thank you! We’ve compiled a list of some of the best activity and craft books that are sure to keep kiddos busy this winter:

1. The Boy’s Book of Adventure and The Girl’s Book of Adventure, Michele Lecreux. These two books are incredible resources, chock full of interesting things to do. Children will enjoy learning how to make their own musical instruments, how to take great photographs, and how to plan hiking and camping trips, among many other awesome activities. These books contain a wealth of information about a wide variety of subjects such as science, animals, astronomy, and crafting.

2. Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit, Pat Murphy (and the scientists of Klutz Labs). Fans of LEGOs (which is pretty much every kid out there) will love this book. The book comes with numerous materials to help carry out the chain reactions. Ramps, signs, funnels, flags, and LEGO pieces all combine to make crazy creations that demonstrate the science behind chain reactions. Clear, detailed instructions and brightly colored pages make it super simple for kids to create their own incredible machines.

3. Cooking Class, Deanna F. Cook. Aspiring chefs will find hours of entertainment in this kid-friendly cookbook. Sure, there are loads of cookbooks out there, but this one is engaging, with simple recipes and step-by-step instructions. Stickers and decorative recipe cards add to the fun. Kids will learn to make favorites such as pancakes, pudding, applesauce, French toast, and pizza. The book stresses the use of healthy ingredients, teaching kids the importance of a balanced meal.

4. The Book of Slime: 33 Recipes for Stretchy, Twisty, Squishy Fun, Helena Macalino. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with a child over the last year knows all about the ever-growing popularity of homemade slime. We may not completely understand the allure of this particular activity, nor do we like having it ground into our carpets, but one thing is for sure–it keeps kids busy. For hours on end. This book contains a wide range of recipes for all skills levels, so kids of all ages are sure to enjoy it.

5. The 50 States Activity Book, Gabrielle Balkan. This book is perfect for long car rides to visit friends and family over the holiday break. Students will fill their heads with interesting facts about the United States. Stickers, trivia games, puzzles, and maps make this activity book an incredibly entertaining geography lesson!

These books are filled with fantastic activities to keep kids busy and work their brains over the holiday break. Simply print up a list of suggestions to send home with each student. Parents can find some of these books at their local library, and others would make great last-minute holiday gifts! Please feel free to contact us to learn about other awesome activities to keep students busy on cold winter days.


Follow Teacher Blogs for Daily Inspiration & Classroom Tips

Great substitute teachers understand the benefit of staying up to date on education tips and ideas new ideas for the classroom. One great way to do this is to receive daily motivational tips and advice from high-quality blogs. There’s tons of great options to choose from, but a popular and useful one to start with is the Cool Cat Teacher blog.

This blog is run by Vicki Davis, a special ed teacher who has years of experience working with these beautiful and challenging students. In her blog, she gives regular advice on how to succeed in the teaching field, including highlighting various pieces of technology that can help.

Even better, Vicki highlights helpful tips from teachers who have real-world experience in a variety of positions. For example, she will bring in various special education teachers to highlight challenging aspects of managing a child’s education. However, she will also interview teachers who have worked up from the difficult field of substitute teaching and into a full-time position.

Vicki is better than many other bloggers because she posts on a nearly daily basis. As a result, her blog is a great place to stop if you need a little motivation or guidance at the beginning of the day. It is also a fun place to visit if you want to laugh. Vicki has a good sense of humor and isn’t afraid to use it.

So if you need help becoming the kind of substitute teacher you want to be, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our experts can give you the guidance you need to succeed in what can be a challenging field. We can also steer you towards other high-quality blogs that can help.


Dealing with Students and Cell Phones

For substitute teachers and permanent teachers alike, one of the most annoying things can be students and their cell phones. Sometimes, students feel they should be able to use their phones for non-school related activities, such as texting their friends or playing games, whenever they want throughout the day. Some simply want to use them for classwork, research, etc… Either way, this can quickly become a problem, especially if multiple students are using their phones regularly. As a substitute teacher, there are several things you can do to reduce the cell phone problem in the classroom.

Know the Cell Phone Policy

Some districts and schools have specific policies about cell phone use in the classroom. You must always know if the school or district has a set cell phone policy. The teacher may also have a specific cell phone policy, such as phones should be put away unless the student is using it as a calculator. If you anticipate a problem, state the policy at the beginning of class, and let the students know how you plan to enforce the policy.

Decide How You Will Deal with Issues

Decide beforehand how you are going to deal with any cell phone issues, and be consistent. Will you have a container where you will store any offending students’ phones? Will you keep the phones until the end of the day or will you return them at the end of class? Will students get a warning, or will you take phones away on the first infraction? In some cases, how you deal with issues may depend upon the school or district policies on cell phones. While it might be tempting to try to ignore students who are using their phones in class, the problem is only going to get worse if you ignore it.

Let the Teacher Know of Any Issues

Teachers want you to leave a note detailing the day. Let the teacher know if you had any issues with students and cell phones. At times, you may have a student who is using a phone when they should be doing school work. When asked to give you the phone or put it away, the student might refuse. Instead of forcibly trying to take the phone away, let the teacher (and, if you feel necessary, someone in the office) know the situation and student’s refusal to comply.

If you would like to learn more about dealing with cell phones in the classroom, contact us.


Substitutes: Make Your Time In the Classroom Count

There’s also no doubt that every minute counts in the classroom. That is why as a sub you should take your role very seriously. You’re not just a ‘sit-in’ for the day. So if the plans left for you are simply not working out (e.g. can’t locate materials, unruly students, etc.) what is a better option: struggle through and waste time? Or adjust the plans yourself?

It is more productive to come up with a writing prompt or a few different math problems or discussion group questions that are different than the plans. The students are still going to learn; it will just be in a slightly different manner than they might usually do. The regular teacher also probably appreciates these skills being worked on rather than just running out the minutes of the day.

Each and every time you sub, start with the plans that have been left for you. But think logically, if they are not working, you are the teacher after all, modify them. Your job is to ensure the students are engaged during the day. Be creative and help them learn.

Ready to take on more jobs and be a better substitute teacher? Contact us today to streamline your sub searching process!


Conversation Starters for Substitute Teachers

When it comes to being a sub, you usually only have a day or two with students before you are moving on to another classroom. That means that getting to know them well may be difficult, but starting up a conversation with your students can help them get a feel for your teaching and you can get to know a little bit about them. Thanks to, there are over 15 different kids conversation starters you can use right in the classroom, and make it a fun activity.
Try sitting around in a circle when they first arrive in the morning, and ask each student to ask another student a question. Have them go around the room and listen to their responses, or if you have a younger crowd with less of an attention span, consider a different technique. Ask them when they walk in to raise their hand if they have an answer to your questions, and you can do this for ten to twenty minutes. Another way to make this a fun game is to cut out the printables, and place them in a basket. Choose a few students at random to come pick out a question, and have them discuss within groups the question, and share responses after.
Allowing students to talk about themselves not only helps you get to know them, but also allows them to feel comfortable around you! When that happens, you are able to lead the classroom successfully. For more ideas on connecting to students or how to be the best sub possible, please contact us. Thank you.

Using Text Alerts To Get Better Sub Jobs

Are you having a hard time picking up sub gigs? Many people struggle with this task, particularly if they haven’t set up text alerts on their phone. While it is understandable not to want to get phone calls early in the morning or during the weekend, there’s no reason not to set up text messaging to improve your chances of getting a job alert.

Text Messages Are Instant

When you set up text message alerts for subbing, you create an engaging system that informs you whenever sub jobs get posted. This speed is a significant advantage because it helps you gauge which jobs are right for you and helps you accept them more quickly. In many instances, it is possible to pick up a gig from the text message!

Setting Up An Alert System

Depending on the company you use for your subbing, you should have several different options for job alerts. Some people like to set up a land line for their calls and a cell phone for their texts. This action is appropriate because it ensures that a person increases their chance of getting a job. So don’t hesitate to buy an inexpensive pay-as-you-go phone and use it strictly pick up substitute teaching gigs.

If you need help setting up text alerts for your substitute teaching positions, don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more. We can help set you up with a system that works for your unique teaching needs with texts, emails, or app alerts! We can also provide you with the help you need to become a better sub.


How To Get Picked as a Preferred Substitute Teacher

Getting on a preferred substitute teacher list is a great step towards making more money and picking up more gigs. But how can you get on this kind of list? There are several ways you can impress teachers and have them put you their automatic preferred sub list.

Take Detailed Notes

During the course of the day, take detailed notes on the behavior of the students and take down the name of students who misbehave. This gives the teacher the information they need to discipline problem behaviors. It also shows that you care about the students and the gig and are willing to take extra steps to do a great job.

Follow The Teacher’s Orders

While you have some room for improvisation as a substitute teacher, you need to make sure to follow the teacher’s recommendations as much as possible. Cover the right material, give them the right homework, and help them to the best of your ability. In this way, you can show the teacher you work hard to meet their needs.

Endear Yourself To The Students

While you shouldn’t become “friends” with your temporary students, endearing yourself to them is a good idea. Many teachers ask students which sub they prefer. If the students like you, there is a good chance they’ll ask for you over others. Endearing traits include having a sense of humor and being a positive influence on their lives.

If you need help becoming the positive presence that your students deserve, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We can guide you to the improved experience you need for your substitute teaching.

Portrait of a young teacher shouting as her students run around her

Subs: What do you do, when just showing up is not enough?

Being a Substitute Teacher is a very rewarding experience. You have the opportunity to help shape today’s children into the adults of tomorrow. However, kids are a handful. We all know it. So, what does a substitute do when the kids are finishing their work faster than the teacher expected or when the teacher forgot to leave plans at all? You have to make your own Substitute Teacher Lesson Plans!

The first thing to do is to check with another teacher. Look for a teacher that is teaching the same grade or, if at a middle school or high school, the same subject. The other teachers generally have backup worksheets or assignments that you can use.

You may also look up worksheets to use from a website like Kidzone. Kidzone offers free worksheets for grades up to fifth grade. However, you can print these worksheets once and use them as a reference for older students. They can also be used as busy work. Keep in mind, if you are using the teacher’s paper to print they may have bought that paper themselves, so use it sparingly.

If worksheets are not enough, you may also make a game out of the work. One game, that is especially good for math or grammar classes is speed race. For math, you put several equations on the board, or on flashcards, and two students try to be the first to complete them. For grammar, you put a few sentences on the board, or flashcards, and the students must try to find all of the spelling or grammar mistakes.

If you do not have the time for a worksheet or an educational game, or if you just want to reward the students there are fun games that can be played as well. For example, point-and-click is a game where the students stand in a circle and close their eyes. When the game master, or the teacher, says, “point,” all of the students pick a point around the circle to point at. When the game master says, “click,” the students must click their fingers and open their eyes. If two students are pointing at each other, then they are out. However, if student A is pointing at student B, but student B is pointing at student C, they are all still in. If student A is pointing at student B, student B is pointing at student C, and student C is pointing at student B, students B and C are out.

When you are a Substitute teacher, you must keep some “tools” in your toolbox: worksheets (or ideas for worksheets), educational games and rewarding games are all tools that can be pulled out at any point.

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