Fun And Free Tools That Can Help You Learn A New Language

Learning a new language can enrich your life in many ways. It may improve your memory, enable you to connect with other cultures, and as a substitute teacher, it can open up new employment opportunities. SubSidekick is devoted to helping you become the most successful substitute teacher that you can be, and becoming fluent in a new language would make you more employable, and help you relate and connect with students who are English Language Learners.

Accessibility, cost, and quality are three of the most important criteria for any tool that we use to learn or help someone else learn a foreign language. Here are our favorite language learning resources that will help you and your students learn a new language:

  • Duolingo app and website. The website offers more opportunities for writing than the app.
  • Books that have been translated into multiple languages. 
  • Subtitles on movies you own on DVD, or simply setting your closed captioning on your television to another language.
  • Music in the language you are learning. Have you heard La vie en rose in French?
  • Talking with native speakers in the language you are learning, seize every opportunity!
  • The website Language Learning At Home which was created by Anne Guarnera, has a plethora of tips for parents and teachers who want to help children learn a new language. 
  • Games such as board games or flashcard games and video games, which children or adults can play to build their vocabulary in a foreign language.
  • Another important tool in language fluency that Anne discusses is audiobooks in a foreign language. We all know how important reading aloud is for teaching children English, and it is an essential component of learning a second language as an adult or as a child. Your local library often has audiobooks that you can access free online!

 We hope these resources will become valuable tools as you learn, and help your students learn, new languages in the classroom or at home. For more articles that will help you succeed in the world of education, visit the SubSidekick blog!

Benefits of Using Subsidekick App

Finding and maintaining consistent substitute teaching positions can involve a lot of time, research, and energy. With the SubSidekick App substitute teachers can easily find, apply, and receive notifications on the latest opportunities. Let’s explore the benefits of the SubSidekick App and how it can work for you!

Filter the Jobs You Want

Instead of having to weed through a list of postings that may not be relevant to what you’re looking for, SubSidekick allows you to filter and set criteria for the positions you want based on assignment length, school preference, by keyword, and more. After setting your preferences you will get automatic notifications when a position that matches your criteria is posted.

Simplicity and Convenience

With the SubSidekick App, you have automatic secure login so that you don’t have to worry about the hassle of logging in every time you want to use the app and you never have to worry about the safety of your personal information. All communications are encrypted to provide security for the user and to provide confidentiality and peace of mind.

Applying for a position should be fast and simple, and that’s why SubSidekick provides a direct link to the position you want to grab to save you time. Afraid you might miss a job posting?  No worries, with the SubSidekick App you can set alerts through your phone by audio or text message, so you never miss an opportunity.

So how can you get the SubSidekick App?  Well it’s simple! The app is available to download for both Android and Apple operating systems. Feel free to contact us and try the app out today to see how you can fast track your way to more substitute teaching opportunities!

Please note that at this time your school district must be using Frontline Absence Management®, SmartFindExpress®, or SubstituteOnline® for substitute placement or absence management.

Get Involved in Summer Youth Activities

Once the school year ends, it can be difficult for substitute teachers to find opportunities to still be involved with school activities, children, and education. Planning, hosting, or helping out at a summer youth activity is a perfect opportunity for those who enjoy working with kids and educational aspects. It is also a great time to become familiar with students and get to be known with the community.

As you begin planning summer youth activities –camps, religious school, daycare events, or family activities– there are some tips and guidelines to keep in mind as you gear up for a safe and fun experience:

Have a Safety Plan

Summer youth activities usually have a good turnout of kids, which makes it very important to have an updated safety plan for you and your team to turn to when allergic reactions, injuries, weather, and other situations occur. Your summer safety plan might consider:

  • first-aid procedures
  • emergency evacuation routes
  • severe weather procedures
  • sexual abuse prevention
  • bullying precautions

If you do not have a safety plan ready for the summer, Guide One Insurance offers some guidelines and ideas to get you started on a plan that will ensure a safe summer activity!

Employee Screenings

Both employees and volunteers are an essential part of a successful summer activity. However, before you entrust them to work at your event, it is important to run proper background checks on them. Background checks prevent the hiring of a criminal or a sexual predator. This resource further explains why screenings are important and how to properly ensure you are hiring safe employees and volunteers.


The biggest goal of a summer activity is to prevent accidents that could result in injury or damage. There are a number of things you, employees, and volunteers can do to prevent youth risks that could cause these accidents to happen:

  • establish written rules/guidelines for youth and staff to be aware of
  • carefully monitor and supervise all activities
  • train leaders and volunteers beforehand
  • collect permission and medical forms signed by parents
  • keep contact information from parents in case of emergency
  • inform parents, staff, and volunteers of plans, hazards, and safety procedures

Make it Fun

After safety comes the goal of having an enjoyable summer activity for all who attend. Be sure to take precautionary measures and follow the safety plan, but also be sure to make it fun! Plan activities that are both safe and benefitting to the youth attending.

For more summer opportunities and sub tips, visit Sub Sidekick.

Summertime for Substitute Teachers

Warm weather, lazy days, endless freedom. That is what most people think of when they imagine teachers enjoying their summer breaks. But the reality is far from that. Summer is filled with constant continuing education classes, the endless search for a better fitting curriculum that meets the district, state and federal guidelines, and trying to fit in a little bit of time for themselves so that they can be rested to give their next group of students their best effort. Being a substitute teacher is different but no less demanding. You still need to maintain your continuing education credits, look for great ways to bring the fun of a substitute to your temporary classes while fulfilling the requirements left by the teacher, and you may still be in search of a permanent school, which leads you to the endless search for a wonderful curriculum. 

If you are looking to sharpen your classroom skills as a substitute there are several opportunities you can take advantage of during those open summer months.

Traveling with students- Many substitute teachers look for a way to travel during the summer for educational purposes. Those can range anywhere from helping to lead a school club trip to another country or working at a summer camp all season, with unlimited opportunities in between. These types of positions allow you to learn alongside the students which will put you in a more desirable position when a school is looking for someone with those unique experiences.

Summer school classes- School districts often offer summer school classes for their students. This is a way to try your hand at a class in a different subject matter than you might normally choose to teach. These positions often don’t have much in the way of competition for placement since full-time teachers tend to need the summer break to pursue their continuing education credits. It is also a way to see if a particular school district is one in which you would like to pursue a possible full-time position.

Tutoring-  This is an excellent way to use your strengths to help others. Tutoring isn’t just with kids anymore. Adults are often looking for a way to improve their skills, especially if they are looking to return to school. Tutoring could open several doors for you.

Webinars and professional development- Take advantage of the extra time that you have during this season too. Don’t forget your ongoing education credits. Take the time to watch those webinars and listen to those podcasts that you had to put off during the school year. Freshen up your resume and work on networking for the next year. If you plan during the summer your year ahead will be smoother. Don’t forget the most important thing either, to update your profile and information so that you can have your most productive year yet!

Online Professional Development- A Great Way to Sharpen Your Skills in the Summer

All teachers are required to complete many hours of professional development each school year. Unfortunately most districts do not offer these courses to their substitute teachers. Whether you are a retired classroom teacher or a stay at home mom looking to make a little extra money, all substitutes could benefit from professional development. 

There are several organizations and websites that offer free online courses so that you can brush up on your classroom skills. Workshops and videos to help substitute teachers can even be found on sites like youtube. You can sit outside in the sunshine and help yourself to prepare for the upcoming school year while enjoying your time. You can do this anywhere you can get a wifi connection!

So I will focus on the three websites that offer free professional development courses in education. This website has an abundant number of webinars to choose from. Try to focus on topics like:

  • The New Teacher Tool Kit Webinar with Lisa Dabbs
  • The Well-Balanced Teacher with Mike Anderson 
  • Ask Dr. Judy: From Negativity to Motivation with Judy Willis This website is broken down into categories to make it easier to select what you are looking for. Try courses in instructional strategies since you will most likely be working in a variety of classrooms. 

  • INST180 Differentiated Instruction
  • INST320 Connecting Family, Community and Schools 
  • INST120 Digital Lesson Planning for Differing Learning Styles This website has tons of professional development courses, both video and written. The three areas to focus on are:

Classroom management:

  • This course focuses on handling challenging behavior.
  • This course focuses on identifying triggers of challenging behavior.

Ethics and Professional Responsibility

  • Talks about signs of human trafficking
  • Talks about laws around child maltreatment

And search the word “substitute”

  • Focuses on Substitute teacher training 
  • More on substitute teacher training 
  • Basics of substitute teaching 

These are just a few examples to get you started. You can always read or watch these courses in your spare time and most will allow you to stop and resume at a later time. It’s always good for even the best in their craft to brush up their skills once in a while. Taking a few hours of online professional development in the summer is a great way to build these skills. 

For more information, contact us

Positive Reinforcement as a Powerful Substitute Teaching Tool

How did you feel the last time someone told you, “Well done?” What went through your mind the last time someone you respected said your name with real affection and palpable pride in your accomplishments? You probably glowed. You probably felt more connected to the person who encouraged you. You likely wanted to keep doing more of the same to earn even more praise for your efforts. You might have been excited to find new ways to earn affirmation. You may have felt relieved of anxiety about not knowing what to do or if you belonged. Now, imagine getting the chance to make your students feel this way.

Positive reinforcement is powerful magic in any classroom. It is the foundation of exceptional student-teacher relationships. It is particularly important for substitute teachers to establish rapport with students as quickly as possible. Through a combination of clear directives, positive reinforcement and consistently setting students up to succeed, you will minimize challenging behaviors and maximize time spent learning.

You may be wondering what role positive reinforcement plays with students who push boundaries. “What if a student’s behavior is so poor that there’s nothing to praise?” you might be asking. It’s important to remember that the roots of all negative behavior are: discomfort, anxiety, sadness, frustration, disconnect, or any combination of these. They may stem from circumstances beyond your awareness and control. As a substitute teacher, this is your chance to make a difference in a scared student’s life. Be sure to reward even the most rudimentary good behavior: It might be as simple as remembering to raise their hand or staying quietly seated. A well-timed smile or nod can go a long way.

Positive reinforcement comes in infinite forms. Here are 3 potent ways to express praise for your students as a substitute teacher:

1. Say your students’ names often, especially to confirm a directive followed. “Everyone please open your books to page 10. I see John’s ready! Jane’s ready! Preston’s ready! Lila’s ready! Everyone’s ready!” When students hear their peers’ names attached to praise, they become eager to hear their own. As humans, we respond automatically and powerfully to this simple acknowledgment.

2. Physical contact speaks volumes. High-fives are amazing to keep students’ energy high, and there are so many variations: You can use fist bumps or create your own handshakes.

3. Grade papers flamboyantly. “A+++++++” may not be a “real grade” in the record book, but there’s no better way to let a student know that you recognize that they surpassed expectations by letting your plus signs go off the paper. Draw googly eyes with the zeros for every “100” earned. Add little cartoons, exclamation points, and praise words like “Beautiful!” For large assignments, write personalized notes commending students’ work and their character.

Abundant use of positive reinforcement is a key to success for any substitute teacher. Building strong bonds with students right off the bat is a magnetic quality that will keep schools calling you with just the right jobs once you’ve made the first connections. SubSidekick can help with that! Please contact us to get started.

Lesson Idea: Origami Bookmarks

Looking for a quick craft project for your class? Personal Creations has created printable templates for making simple origami bookmarks! These little bookmarks are so much fun to make –– they’re also a great way to get kids excited about reading!

With 8 different templates to choose from, there’s an origami bookmark for readers of all ages! Whether you have a superhero-in-training or a classroom full of animal lovers, these bookmarks make the perfect project for substitute teachers, moms, and kids!

For more information on how SubSidekick can help you acheive success as a substitute teacher, please contact us!

Should Substitute Teachers Get Training From The NAEA?

Education in visual arts such as pottery and painting are integral to student growth. It expands the human potential and promotes understanding across cultural divides. And I am not the only one saying this. It is the position of the National Arts Education Association. So, as a substitute teacher, should you check out this organization? Consider the following.

What Is It?

The National Arts Education Association was formed as an advocacy group for visual arts education. The group was created by teachers of the visual arts and its membership is formed of art educators. And they include all types of visual arts educators, from the preschool teacher using finger paints to the university professor teaching theater arts. They are also open to researchers and scholars in the field of arts education and students looking to become art teachers. So long as you are in the territorial US and have something to do teaching the visual arts, this is your professional organization. The organization works hard to ensure that great teachers bring high-quality art education to anyone who wants it. They provide support people in the field through training, networking opportunities, and keeping art education standards high.


The most obvious benefit of getting training by the NAEA in visual arts teaching is that you will expand the number of jobs you will be eligible for. Teaching visual arts can be one of the most rewarding gigs around, and principals will prefer substitutes with specific training in the arts. Some states have mandatory standards that art education for pre-K through high school has to meet, and there is a national standard for art education that is voluntary but influential. Being able to identify these standards and how you achieve them in your work makes you more attractive for teaching positions that involve the visual arts. The NAEA also provides mentoring opportunities, art education conferences, and peer-reviewed magazine articles about pedagogical approaches to that end.

There are more holistic benefits though. You can bring the specific approaches learned in their virtual and face-to-face training to other classes and maybe, when you teach at an elementary class with some free time, add some new art projects to their day. As a substitute teacher, you know that learning can be extrapolated into many fields and it is always good to know more.

Members of the NAEA have other benefits of a practical nature, too. They get free one-time large printings of NAEA publications for school-related functions.

And while you are expanding your professional capabilities, feel free to contact us. We help substitute teachers find positions and grow as teachers.

Bell to Bell: Best Practices for Managing Time in the Classroom

Whether you take over a classroom for a day or for the long haul, your best bet at a rewarding experience is making sure that your time management is on point; keeping these tips in mind will help you make it from morning bell until afternoon dismissal without a hitch!

1. Show up early. You want to arrive at your post at least an hour before the students. This may sound excessive but copy machines break, staff have morning meetings, or you might arrive at a classroom only to find that the teacher did not leave any sort of plan for you and now you have to figure out what to do with your students all day! By arriving early instead of showing up right before the bell, you build in time for yourself to have some coffee, prep any handouts for the kids, and get yourself situated so that you are ready to welcome your class and have a great day- you’ve got this! 

2. Always, always, always over-plan! As a general rule of thumb, you should always have more for your students to do than you think you will need. If you’re substituting, chances are that the classroom teacher will have left you some sort of sub plan- but keep in mind that these plans are not going to be super in-depth and you may find yourself with more time than prepared activity. Get through the work as requested, but come armed with back up! Even if you don’t end up needing it, the extra time you put in up front will help you avoid a room full of students staring at you with nothing to do and 20 minutes left in the period! If you’re looking for ideas of fun and enriching activities, check this page from TeacherVision out to get you started!

3. Break your time up into short increments. Students get distracted- you’ll get their best attention by breaking up the class period into chunks of no more than 20 minutes a piece. This way, you can tier activities that that incorporate group work, individual assignments, and full class discussions and you can better guarantee that they will remain focused instead of asking that they put an entire hour into one activity that may not even strike a chord with all the varied types of learners in your room! As explained by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching Remember, it is important to remember that when planning your classroom assessments, you want to touch on multiple levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy in order to successfully engage your classroom.

4. Organize your space to help you organize your time. Have a place for everything to help ensure that by the end of the day you aren’t facing a room that it is total ruins. Establish a spot to collect student work, have place for the kids to return borrowed supplies; hold the class accountable by allowing them two minutes to clean up before dismissal. By working as a team with your students and by establishing a system of organization, you do the classroom teacher a favor by leaving everything where they can clearly find it upon their return and you do yourself a favor because if you stay on top of things during the day, you get to go home with no added work or clean up at the end of the school day instead of having to stay even five minutes late! 

5. Establish rules with your students. Don’t waste time disciplining- make your expectations well known and clear from the start. Write them on the board, project them on the screen- and read through them with the kids. You’re the stranger in the room but it’s still up to you -not the students- to set the tone for the day. Give them boundaries that they can respect and you won’t have to lose out on teaching minutes to redirect throughout your time with the kids.

It’s hard to be a classroom teacher and even harder to step in as a substitute- but if you keep these tips in mind and properly manage your time, you’ll have an experience that’s truly rewarding and you’ll be sure to be asked back for repeat visits! 

 contact us

How to Build Work-Life Balance

You’ve probably heard or read about the term “work-life balance.” If you’re consumed by work, the term is likely to sound like a carnival act. If you don’t have enough work, it’s likely to sound like an insult, and if you’re professionally unmotivated, it’s likely to sound like a moot point.

The key to how to build work-life balance is understanding that balance means different things to and for different people. Articles written about work-life balance often come from the perspective that the person reading the article devotes too much time to work. This article, on the other hand, comes from the perspective that attaining balance is an individual path, yet regardless of the path, there are important factors for building work-life balance for all paths.

Relationship Health

If you’re constantly cleaning house, you’re not spending much time with your friends and family. If you’re constantly working, you’re not spending much time with your friends and family. Keeping your relationships healthy requires time, energy, and attention, and all work, whether it’s housework or employment, takes away from that time, energy, and attention.

If you don’t feel you spend enough time with your friends and family, you probably don’t, and it means that some area of your work or work outside of work needs adjustment.


Your body and your mind need and depend on you to take care of you. In order to stay healthy, you must take time to stretch, exercise, and embrace the calmness within, whether you meditate, pray, or simply practice quiet time. Self-care also includes other aspects of mental and emotional health, such as expressing yourself creatively.

Self-care also involves fun time and laughing. Laughter is one of the best therapies and remedies for your entire body, from the inside-out. Laughter increases all of the positive, happy chemicals inside of your body that in turn help the mind focus and build work-life balance.

Values & Success

Establishing and maintaining your values is an extremely important component of building work-life balance. Your parents, your employer, or even your spouse does not have the right to dictate your values to or for you.

If, for example, the price of financial success includes an unhealthy lifestyle or marriage conflict, the money is likely not worth the personal cost no matter how much society labels financial success as the ultimate success. Additionally, if the price of marriage success includes giving-up a career that you love, it’s likely not worth the long-term price to give-up your career.

For more information about building work-life balance while substitute teaching, contact us