Classroom management ideas for substitute teachers

For the most part, the beginning of a class is no different for a substitute than it is for the regular classroom teacher.  When the bell rings and the students flow into the room, if you’re not prepared and on your toes, a potentially great school day could soon turn into a stressful one. Being prepared for those first five minutes makes all the difference in the world.  Have a simple plan to get everyone in their seats and occupied so you can attempt to identify who’s who, call roll, and get their assignment going.

Good classroom management begins in those first few minutes of class.

Some teachers call them bell-ringers, others call them morning handouts, and I’m certain that there’s all sorts of other catchy names that individual teachers refer to them as.  But basically, these are usually single sheet items, ranging from puzzles, current event topics, an interesting story that’s been copied from a magazine and things of the like.  Make sure these items are age and grade appropriate, by the way.  When the students enter the room, hand a bell-ringer to each one so they’ll have something to work on while you’re getting the day’s assignment ready.  You’ll have less trouble if the kids are busy and have something interesting to work on or read.  So if you’re going to be substitute teaching on a regular and permanent basis, start gathering your very own personal collection of bell-ringers to help you get your day off on the right foot.

Try letting them work in small groups.

If you have a good feel for the overall tone of the room, and you don’t see that you’ll have any problems, try letting the students work in small groups.  This technique can often come in handy if you’re substitute teaching subject matter that is not your best field, for example, Chemistry II or Advanced Trig.  Allow the students to work in groups of three and four so that they can help each other.  Basically, classroom management is all about what calls you make as the substitute teacher, in order to get the most out of the class period.

Be creative!

Every class is different and every student is different.  If you’re substituting for a class and you’re having discipline problems, take a deep breath, stay calm, and find the ringleader troublemaker of the room. If you can turn that “ringleader” into your “helper,” then you’ve just cut out much of your problems.  Sometimes the discipline problem students are not accustomed to being called on to help pass out papers or do an odd job for the teacher, so if you take the time to give them a chance, that once “trouble making” kid could help you keep the entire class in check.

If you have more questions or concerns about substitute teaching then feel free to contact us for more helpful information!

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