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.   

Having a Teacher Mentor: Who to Seek Out?

It is difficult to come into an environment as a substitute, especially at a school you are unfamiliar with. Getting adjusted quickly is a lot easier if you are able to find a teacher mentor: someone you can go to for simple questions or for advice in the event of a classroom problem such as a disruptive student. 

Introductions to other faculty and staff will be much easier if you have someone to guide you and remind you of peoples’ names. You will also have someone to point out problems that are likely to arise before you are faced with them, so that you have time to work out a strategy beforehand. 

Who should you choose? 

Take note of the teachers who are friendly to you. Usually, there will be one or two teachers who go out of their way to make sure you feel comfortable at the school. Generally, your teacher mentor will be the one who is actively taking you under their wing. 

If there is no one actively mentoring you, make an effort to say hello to the teachers in classrooms nearest the one you will be teaching in for the day. Ask for directions to the bathroom or ask where to get extra supplies, or any simple question that won’t be too much of a hassle for them to answer, and notice which teacher you feel a stronger connection to. This is likely to be a good teacher mentor for you. 

You can ask your preferred teacher to be your mentor. Everyone loves flattery, and most teachers will be happy to show you around and help you get to know the school. You might even ask your teacher mentor if you can sit in on one of their classes during your free period. 

Best of luck finding your own teacher mentor! For a better chance at snagging substitute teaching jobs, please contact us

Building a Tool Kit to be the Best Substitute Teacher

Every good tradesman needs the right tools and the same is certainly true for substitute teachers.  The kit you carry into the classroom should have key tools that will work for a variety of students.

The graphic organizer is versatile.  It is a concise and easy way for students to organize information.  Often substitute lesson plans have students watching a movie, reading an article, or playing a learning review game.  Having a graphic organizer ready to pull from your tool box helps the students summarize information and can fill in those last few minutes of time when the lesson is complete.  There are many to choose from; investigate which ones would work for you and add them to your kit. 

Conversations cards  and questions are an indispensable tool for a substitute teacher.  Substitutes need to think on their feet, but sometimes we all stumble.  Having cards and questions prepared and ready to be pulled from your box is smart.  There are cards for problem solving, math, discussion starters, holidays and more.  They can be used to supplement a lesson, create a lesson, or simply to fill time and keep students engaged.

Another must-have item for every substitute teacher toolbox is a pack of index cards.  A full size sheet of paper can be intimidating to some students because it seems like a lot of empty space to fill.  An index card is friendlier, and can be used in a variety of ways.  Students might write or draw a question, one thing they learned from the lesson, or one thing they wish their regular teacher would follow up on when he or she returns.  Think how impressed the teacher will be when the substitute leaves the cards and the teacher is easily able to assess what students learned – or what they still need help with – in her absence!

To be the best substitute teacher, you need the best tools.  Make sure you have your tool kit filled and ready for your next job. contact us

Positive Preparation for Long-Term Subbing

Long-term subbing without the proper preparation can be disastrous. Not only can you find yourself in a daily power struggle, but you can also mar your good reputation. Here are some tips to help you have the best long-term subbing experience possible.

Know the Expectations

Meet with the teacher beforehand to discuss classroom procedures, expectations, and the school policies. The more informed you are the better! Students need consistency and will live up to expectations. Of course, there will always be a few students that want to challenge you. However, your preparation will stop those challenges in their tracks.

Know the Material

When you meet with the teacher get copies of what you will be teaching. After your meeting, do your research and practice how you will present the material. If you are presenting electronically, practice with the application if possible. As you practice, make a list of questions to ask the teacher before their leave begins. You are the one that has to answer questions in the teacher’s absence. The teacher will appreciate your desire to be informed. In addition, the administration will notice your efforts leading to future job offers.

Communicate

Keep the lines of communication open with the teacher and administration. If you run into any issues while subbing, know who you can talk to and how they prefer to be contacted. Always remember to keep it positive even when you find yourself frustrated with a difficult student or situation. Administrators and teachers will be happy to give you experienced advice when needed. Seeking a positive solution right away and implementing it makes you a problem solver. Not to mention, you are then viewed as a positive addition to their teaching team.

Be Yourself

Finally, do not try to be the teacher for whom you are subbing. The students know you are not that teacher and don’t expect you to be exactly like them. We all have different personalities, approaches, and talents to bring to the table. Let yours shine! Show them the creative, caring, daring and dedicated teacher that stands before them.

As you accept that long-term offer, remember that being prepared is not just for the Boy Scouts. It is good advice all around. Being prepared will stop challenging behaviors, build your confidence, and lead to success in the classroom. Furthermore, the administration and the teachers will want you back. Be prepared for those callbacks by checking out SubSidekick for more substitute tips, tricks, advice, and job alerts!

Three Tips for Becoming a Great Substitute Teacher

We at Sub Sidekick know that people become substitute teachers for a variety of reasons. Usually, flexibility and variety are two major reasons that make substitute teaching more attractive. Retired teachers will often want to stay somewhat connected to the school environment (maybe just not every day.) Whatever the reason no one ever wakes up wanting to have a bad day. There are some tried-and-true ways that substitutes can have a considerably better experience filling-in for a day or two. 

Follow the Plan 

Every teacher is a little different in how they prepare for a substitute. Some are certainly better than others, but if you find yourself subbing for a teacher who has left a detailed description of what they would like to see accomplished during the day then definitely follow that plan. Teachers like this are often the most detailed and organized educators. It speaks volumes about how they run their classroom and the odds are good that they have the students follow a very set routine. If you don’t follow this plan the students will be thrown-off and likely very unruly. 

Be Warm and Inviting

It’s perfectly fine for substitute teachers to smile and warmly introduce themselves to their class for the day. The students are probably expecting someone unfriendly or even mean. By starting your day off with a smile and a friendly greeting you are helping to put the students at ease with you as their teacher for the day. Don’t let them walk all over you and dictate how you will manage the class, but being friendly always goes a long way.

Dress for Success

Owlcation makes a great suggestion for subs to dress for success. By showing up in professional attire that fits well you are sending a great signal that you take your job seriously. Most schools have something of a dress code for their faculty anyway so meeting or exceeding that expectation is a good way to get noticed and requested by administrators. 

These three suggestions can help anyone get off to a great start as a substitute teacher. Your name and reputation will get around quickly as schools are always looking for fantastic subs! For more information about what can make you the best substitute you can be, contact us here at Sub Sidekick and let us help.