How to Be the Best Substitute Teacher

If you want to be the best substitute teacher you can, there are two realizations that have to be made: First, remind yourself that you are a teacher. Being a substitute doesn’t mean you’re less than a normal teacher–although some would have you think so–; it means that you’re a suitable stand-in for the students’ normal teacher, with all the rights and privileges therein. Second, remember that as a teaching professional, what you do in the classroom is impactful. The actions you take, the words you say, and the way you teach should show kids they’re valuable and cared for, which in turn will show their teachers that you’re the right candidate for any absent day. Once these two vital realizations have been made, check out the two educational resources below because they will help you start making professional decisions that not only get you one job, but keep the phone ringing.

Substitute teaching starts off simply, as the Education World Online Substitute Survival Kit would tell you. Yes, follow the plan. Yes, be prepared and keep your composure. And when the heart you have shines is when you let the kids see who you are. “Sing! Play! Read! Write! Homework! Manage!” are some of the tips Education World provides, and what they’re really getting at is that it’s okay to be yourself. You don’t have to be mean or harsh; you can be a courteous, exciting, and playful teacher (because that’s what you are). You chose to be a substitute for only a handful out of so many reasons, but you love kids! You might even possibly want to make a career out of being with them. The plan the absent teacher leaves is only a frame that you fill out, and you have the professional skills and tricks to make it through the day (and the others, if you have more). 

Also visit Teacher Created Resources’ Tips for Being a Successful Substitute Teacher page to understand more about the ins and outs of excelling in any classroom. Then remind yourself that you’re a teaching professional who has all the capabilities of instruction and will impact every curious set of eyes in attendance that day. Becoming the most desirable substitute teacher takes time and practice, but if you have a heart to really get students to learn material, and so much more beyond it, follow these simple yet professional tips so that you’ll already be on your way to success.

For more posts on professional development as a substitute teacher all year round, contact us over at Sub Sidekick to learn more.

Three Tips for Having a Flexible Schedule as a Substitute Teacher

For many substitute teachers, one of the biggest benefits of their job is that they have a lot more flexibility with their schedule than they would have with most other jobs. How, though, do you take full advantage of your flexible job schedule?

Don’t Overschedule Yourself

Let’s face it. Substitute teaching can be a difficult job. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you won’t get the same level of respect that the students would show their regular teacher. One of the great things about substitute teaching is that you can take a day or two off occasionally without having to clear your time off with anyone else. Make your days off into what you want them to be, even if that means going grocery shopping or catching up on cleaning your house.

Take Those Short Jobs

While many subs scoop up those full-day jobs right away, many school districts have a harder time filling the shorter jobs. Teachers who are also coaches often leave an hour or two early for competitions. Although they may not pay as much as the longer jobs, these jobs are great. You can sleep-in, maybe go out to lunch with a friend, and then still get in a few hours of work in the afternoon.   

Be Ready on Short Notice

As a substitute teacher, you will often know only a few hours beforehand that you are teaching. Be flexible with this. If you are the sort of sub who is always ready on short notice, teachers and school administrators will likely notice. Being ready on short notice shows your dedication to the job and demonstrates a strong work ethic, both of which are likely to make you someone teachers will want on their list of preferred subs.

Be sure to contact us to learn more about taking full advantage of your flexible schedule as a substitute teacher.

3 Apps That Make Learning A New Language Easy

Let’s face it, learning a new language is difficult and time-consuming. A second language is always a good tool to have in your repertoire. Even if you are not fluent, it is a skill that will open up numerous employment opportunities. Read on to discover three amazing apps that will make learning a new language fun and easy.

1. Duolingo

Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps. Duolingo makes learning fun by using matching games, fill in the blanks, and example conversations. The app has an extensive list of languages to learn, from Spanish to High Valyrian. Duolingo tracks your success through modules. There is no moving backward in Duolingo, only forwards. Of course, you can easily go back to review each module when you need to brush up on a certain skill. With over 100 million users, Duolingo is a good option. 

2. Memrise

Memrise is a lot like Duolingo, but focuses more on the memorization of a certain skill or vocabulary. The app uses flashcards and games to improve memorization. It is a great app to use hand in hand with Duolingo. Memrise has a larger selection of languages than Duolingo, since all lessons are member created. There are many lessons that were created to compliment popular language learning books, so the app is a good option to consider before spending money on an expensive language book.

3. HelloTalk

HelloTalk is a wonderful app that helps you to improve your conversation skills. The app gives you the ability to talk to a native speaker in the language you wish to learn. Usually, they will help you in exchange for help with their English. This is a great opportunity to try different conversation activities that could help English language learners in a class. Conversation practice with this app comes in the form of voice and text chats. Users are able to correct each other’s messages using a built-in correction tool within each chat. HelloTalk is a great way to meet new friends overseas while learning a new language.

These three apps are free to use. They will provide a fun and easy way to learn a new language so that you can assist in foreign language classes. Sub SideKick is dedicated to connecting substitute teachers with the perfect job. Are you ready to be a substitute teacher in foreign language classes? Then contact us to create an account and stay alert. 

Looking for a Flexible Profession?  Consider Substitute Teaching!

Are you in the middle of a career transition and in need of an income to bolster you without getting in the way? Are you supporting a loved one who is suffering from health issues and who may need your care at a moment’s notice? Are you driven by creativity and seeking the freedom to pursue your passions? Whatever your unique needs for flexibility are, substitute teaching might be just the profession for you.

As a substitute teacher, you will enjoy many dimensions of flexibility, such as the following.

When to Work—By setting dates and times in an online account or mobile app, you can guarantee that your teaching assignments fit conveniently within your availability, whether that be every Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM, or just this upcoming Tuesday afternoon.  

Assignment Length—You can also determine the length of your assignments. For example, if you want to build rapport with students and faculty at a single campus, you can choose assignments ranging from a week to a whole semester; or, if you prefer a constant change of environment, you can opt for single-day assignments, moving from campus to campus each day.

Where to Work—Maybe you have a favorite cafe on the Northwest side of town whose breakfast sandwich you would love to enjoy each morning with a hot cup; or perhaps you have an evening meeting with a potential investor in your startup on the Southeast side. You can easily update your substitute teaching account to suggest only those assignments in school districts that are conveniently located where your business or leisure require you to be.    

Subject Matter—Perhaps you’re a retired engineer and would enjoy sharing your mathematical and scientific expertise with the next generation; or maybe the Civil War film you just watched has piqued your curiosity about American history. Whatever they are, you can choose teaching assignments that best align with your current interests or strengths.

Whereas many highly flexible jobs have the drawback of being financially uncertain, substitute teaching is known to be a dependable source of income. There is a constant demand for substitutes, and the daily compensation rate is averaging around $105.00. Also, depending on the school district, you may be eligible for health and retirement benefits.  

If you are interested in building a flexible schedule around your current lifestyle while earning a steady income and making a positive impact on today’s youth, feel free to contact us for more information about becoming a substitute teacher today. 

Eating Lunch with Other Teachers in the Breakroom Comes with Many Benefits

If you’ve made the decision to pursue the professional and rewarding career of substitute teaching, they’re are a number of things that you can do along the way to not only make new contacts, but also to increase your earning potential. You can look at it as serving as your very own PR manager, but make no mistake about it, meeting new friends in the education field definitely opens doors!

As far a substitute teaching is concerned, one place to meet new professional contacts is the teachers breakroom. If you’re new to a particular campus, just look for the friendliest face and ask them if it would be ok for you to use the staff refrigerator or microwave for lunch purposes.  They’re not going to say No, and now you have a way not only to enjoy a warm lunch but to also sit down and talk and visit with coworkers.

When you work as a substitute teacher I cannot stress enough the fact that you are like a walking billboard as far as the campus contract teachers are concerned.  Make a good impression on them, and they’ll have a big hand in you receiving phone calls or texts to continue substitute teaching at their campus in the future.  Believe me, contract teachers “put the word out” for you when they know you on a more personal level and see that you are professional and dependable. Additionally, meeting new teachers will enable you to have friends that can answer questions for you,  or direct you to the supply closet or to the restrooms, for example; it’s just good all the way around to know people when you substitute teach so that you’ll have people to help you with simple questions, should you have any.

So after you’ve figured out where the breakroom is and managed to meet a few of the staff, try to find things in common with one of them or some. Whether it be music concerts, ballgames, an upcoming holiday, the summer, your children if you have any, or anything else interesting that you can think of; find something to talk about and make a positive impression!

My trick was always food and humor! On a busy and hectic school day, nothing makes a bigger impact than a funny story that brings a teacher to a belly laugh, or a big plate of homemade peanut butter cookies! Or both! Teaching can be stressful at times, so when you can lighten up the mood by making someone laugh, they’ll remember you for that! And teachers love snacks, so it never hurts to bring candy, cookies, or donuts and leave them on the table in the teachers breakroom; it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something that serves as a nice gesture that tells them that you want to be part of the group.

So keep these simple tips in mind as you pursue your new substitute teaching career. And remember that SubSidekick can help you with any of your substitute teaching questions or concerns. Keep up the good work and contact us should you need any help or assistance in this rewarding field!

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National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)

When you’re in the substitute teaching profession, being a member of a professional organization not only gives you access to important education related information, but it also looks great on a resume. If you’re trying to gain substitute teaching assignments at a particular campus, submitting a resume that states your involved with a particular professional teachers organization will demonstrate to the principal that you’re not only involved in the education, but up to date on new and important teaching news, methods and ideas. 

One particular teaching organization that you can join, if you’re interested in science and mainly choose to substitute teach science related subjects is the National Science Teachers Association or NSTA. You do not have to hold a professional teachers certification to become a member; the NTSA’s open to anyone, including non-certified substitute teachers, or substitute teacher’s that are working toward their teaching certification. Basically, anyone that is simply interested in learning more about the field of science is eligible to become a member.

The National Science Teachers Association was formed in 1944 and currently has around 57,000 members. Additionally, although it is a national organization  it strives to connect like minded science teachers around the world through international conferences.  One international conference that focuses on world issues in particular is The Global Conversations Conference For Science Educators.

Becoming an NSTA member gives you access to science curriculum planning which can assist in selecting teaching material and designing units and lessons. Additionally, it offers classroom resources for physical science, life science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology and the application of science.

If you’re planning on staying in the education profession, and if you’re interested in learning more about science and having teaching resources at your fingertips, becoming an NSTA member is an excellent idea to not only strengthen your resume, stay connected with fellow science teachers, and to be current with science curriculum.

We at SubSidekick encourage you to continue to learn as a substitute teacher, join professional teachers groups and organizations, and try to gain as much knowledge as you can. As a teacher, learning new things not only helps you do your job better, but it also helps the students! Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

“The Science of today is the technology of tomorrow” -Edward Teller-

How Subs Can Help Stop Bullying

Substitute teachers may only be running the classroom for a short time, but they can also be some of the best people to help in the effort to stop bullying in schools! Consider that everyone (adults and children) tend to get more comfortable and relaxed around people they see routinely. When this happens their manners can sometimes fall by the wayside as well. Substitute teachers are guests in the classroom and by nature these students will be more attuned to their presence and expectations. 

Much like when kids “show out” a bit when company is at the house they will do the same thing at school. What some may take as behaving badly for a sub is in actuality an opportunity for the sub to have teachable moments. Being aware of when students are not being a good friend to others is the first step. When a sub sees this, turning a blind eye and chalking it up to bad behavior for the day is the worst thing to do. 

Taking the time as a sub to have a talk about not being a good friend can be very helpful. Even more important than continuing their instruction, helping to impart good character with the children is vital! Substitute teachers would be well served to do research on characteristics of bullying behavior in classrooms as well as tips for how to respond when they see this behavior. Remember that as the adult guest in their classroom they are more aware of what you say and do than you realize. 

Sub Sidekick always supports the concept of communicating with the school before you do anything as a substitute teacher. Because of this, knowing the school’s bullying policy and what efforts they have going on in the school to combat bullying is extremely important. Remember to do your homework on this before working in a school. Contact us for more information about substitute teaching resources and to find out how we can support you in your efforts as a phenomenal substitute teacher! 

How to be a Preferred Sub From Day One

While a “warm body” is the bare minimum for a substitute teacher we all know that it is far more to that. If you want to get the best assignments and work in the best schools, you need to develop a reputation as a great substitute teacher. The best way to accomplish that is by spending some time in the summer to establish yourself in the schools where you want to work. The best way to get yourself at the top of the list is to call the school in the summer and ask if you could visit with the principal for about five minutes. 

When you visit with any school official make sure you are dressed as if you were going to sub for the day. Have a copy of your resume and a cover letter as to why you would love to work in their school. When you meet, make sure you are pleasant and conversational outlining what strengths you have as a substitute. The summer is the best time for administrators to meet with you as things are a little more relaxed. 

Because administrators are always busy with dozens of things going on at the same time it will be very important for you to send a follow-up email, a letter in the mail or just drop by again right before the year starts. It is also worth your time to ask if it would be possible to attend any of the teacher meetings or professional development before the year starts. When administrators see that you are willing to go the extra mile to be a part of their professional learning community you will quickly establish yourself on the short list of preferred subs. 

Sub Sidekick is always here as your preferred resource for how to stay busy working as a substitute teacher. Contact us for more information about how we can help you as a professional substitute teacher. 

How to Build a Work Life Balance

Finding a balance between work and life should not be an impossible task.  When we are always worried about bouncing from teaching gig to teaching gig, while tending to the needs of our families and trying to catch up on household tasks, we often lose sight of ourselves.

This can lead to unhappy and unhealthy lives. Stress can build and productivity can diminish when a balance between work and life is nonexistent.  Here are six simple things we can do to help improve our relationships, health, and happiness in order to maintain a work life balance:

  • Set short, attainable goals. Begin by making lists to identify what is most important. Eliminate activities that waste time and won’t reduce a weight off your shoulders. If it can be done tomorrow, next weekend, or next month, keep it off the list. You will be filled with a sense of accomplishment when you can cross items off your list.
  • Exercise. It isn’t a mystery to understand how beneficial working out can be. Not only can it decrease anxiety and depression, but exercise can make you feel happy and give you more energy. The release of endorphins during a workout can increase focus, enhance concentration, and build a stronger immune system. Even something as simple as meditation can offer the mind a moment to exercise.
  • Listen to music. Cranking up your favorite tunes can enhance your concentration and mood as well, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Depending on what you listen to, music can also boost your creativity.
  • Communicate with your support system. We all have those moments in our lives when we need to vent or just hear the voice of someone who can make us feel at ease during stressful times in our day.  Setting aside a brief moment of your day to talk with someone who supports you can help bring balance to your life.
  • Ask for help. This is not a sign of failure but a recognition of strength. It is humanly impossible to do everything our jobs and lives demand of us. We can lift a little weight off our shoulders by reaching out for a helping hand and sharing our responsibilities with others.
  • Step away from technology. Our lives are constantly bombarded with technology. Whether we sit in front of a computer screen all day, text or email from our phones, or relax in front of our favorite television show, screen time hinders the balance we seek to find. Being present in the moment means stepping away from texts, emails, and social media to reconnect with the sights and sounds of the  world around you. 

At SubSideKick, we know the importance of maintaining a balance between your personal and professional life. For further information about how to make time for yourself contact us, and we’ll be eager to guide you toward happiness and balance!

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (Period)

Ahhh, lunch period. After a morning of following lesson plans, corralling kids and your bladder relentlessly chastising you for drinking too much coffee, lunch is a welcome reprieve. While your inclination may be to savor this quiet time alone in your classroom, updating social media and eating your peanut-free lunch, I urge you to resist the temptation. As veterans know, the lunch period is one stellar opportunity for the substitute teacher. 

It’s Basically Paid Networking

If you are a substitute teacher hoping to land a permanent position or more steady employment, think of the lunch room as a networking opportunity (and one you are essentially being paid to do). As you form relationships with the other teachers, they learn more about you and your teaching style. The next time one of these teachers has a planned absence, they may specifically request that you be their sub as they know you will follow their plans and have a rapport with the students. Further, when a job vacancy becomes available, because you are well-known to and cordial with the existing staff, you will easily be one of the first candidates considered. By eating lunch with the other teachers, you are demonstrating that you are a team player and ingratiating yourself to others who may have pull when a permanent position comes along. 

It’s Helps You Learn About Your Students

As a substitute teacher, your interactions with each student may be few and far between. This can make it difficult to build rapport and, for many of us, this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching. By eating lunch with other teachers, you can learn more about your students and what makes them tick. That student who was acting up this morning? She just lost a family member and needs some extra TLC. That student who refused to listen? He’s actually hard of hearing and didn’t hear you. Anything you can learn about your students is bound to be helpful, and the best sources of this information are the teachers who see them on a daily basis. 

It’s Where the School’s Morale is Revealed

If you are looking for a more permanent position, you likely want to work for a school whose values, methods and ambitions are a good fit with your own. While teachers are often team players in the classroom, the lunch room is where they speak more freely. Paying attention to their gripes, as well as the elements they praise, is helpful in deciding if this school’s climate is a solid match for you in the long-term. 

It Creates a Feeling of Unity

While you will invariably spend some time as “the sub”, once you begin mingling with the teachers during lunch, you quickly become a part of their crew. When other teachers know and respect you, the students begin to follow suit. From there, it’s not too long before you’re treated as just another teacher as opposed to an outsider to be wary of. 

Substitute teaching is full of hidden opportunities and eating lunch with the other teachers is among the most powerful. Next time, instead of savoring that sunflower seed butter sandwich solo, take a walk to the teacher’s lunch area and pull up a chair. It may just be the career breakthrough you’ve been looking for.  

Looking for more wisdom from the trenches? Sub Sidekick is happy to help manage all of your substitute teaching needs.