A Few Tricks of the Trade: Substitute Teaching
When you go into the classroom as a substitute, whether you have taught before or not, you will be walking into the unknown. Every teacher is different in the way that they run their classroom and prepare for a sub. There will be days that you have very precise lessons to follow, and days that you find yourself having to ‘wing’ it for most of the lessons. Here are five substitute teacher tips that might help no matter what situation you walk into.
- Know Your Stuff: Familiarize yourself with the state standards for the grade level and subject(s) you’ll be teaching in. This will help tremendously in knowing what is expected for the students to learn and also help if you need to add to an assignment to fill time.
- Have Time-Fillers With You: Pack a bag that has some back-up items in it. Some ideas might include some crossword puzzles with SAT vocabulary words, maybe a word game to play on the board, or a favorite age appropriate book that you can read aloud.
- Set Expectations: If the teacher has not left you a set of class rules, it can’t hurt to have your own set of rules that you can share when you start the class. It is important to present this information in a fair way. Let the students know that since you visit so many classes, you have come up with your own set of rules for the day. You can also have your own set of incentives to keep students active and following directions. It is really important to not step on the toes of the teacher, or make students feel like their teacher has been replaced with a drill sergeant who does not want to listen to them. If your rules are too strict, you might set yourself up to have a really rough day of students pushing the limits.
- Follow the Directions: It’s very important to follow any/all directions the teacher has given. If papers are to be collected, collect them. If students are supposed to finish an assignment for homework, assign it. In order for students to not play games for you or the teacher, it might be a good idea to write down the directions on the top of a paper and pass it around the room for students to sign so that you can leave it for the teacher. The teacher will see what directions were given, and see that the students did hear or see them.
- Check Their Learning: If a teacher has left directions for students to watch a movie or educational video clips, it is ok to attach a listening assignment to this. Look up some universal movie activities that require only a piece of paper. Some things might include listing questions student’s have while watching, writing out a summary of what was viewed, or even keeping a character chart of who has appeared and what they have done so far. If you have seen the film, you can be more specific. You can also do a quick search at the beginning of the day before the students arrive to get additional information on the topic of the movie. Students love hearing anecdotal stories, especially funny or unbelievable ones.
These are just five of the many things that can help you when substitute teaching. It is not an easy job, but know that teachers everywhere thank you for doing it.
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