Top Five Gifts for Teachers This Season – What Are We Wishing For?

As the holiday season approaches, it is the time of year when students and friends start thinking about what gifts to give their favorite teachers. There are many awesome ideas for great and enjoyable gifts for teachers.

There are many gifts that teachers love! A gift is always a kind and generous act. The most important part is the thought behind the gift. Some thought should be put into selecting the best gift for the teacher. Think about their tastes, habits, and hobbies to get a good clue!

Check out this Top Five Gifts for Teachers This Season!

1. Gift Cards – Amazon gift cards, restaurant, grocery store gift cards, etc. If the teacher uses an iPad a lot, consider an iTunes gift card. Audible gift cards are never a disappointment either!

2. School supplies – post it notes, pens, pencils, paper clips, tape. Most teachers have to supply these materials out of their own pockets. This can get very expensive.

3. Themed Gift Basket – Think ‘Movie Night’ with a movie, microwave popcorn, hot cocoa, and some candy. Or perhaps a ‘Spa Day’ basket with various creams, bubble bath, nail polish, etc.

4. Memorable – Something to commemorate your class. A handmade card, a more expensive gift that everyone chips in on.

5. Something Specific – Think about the individual’s tastes. If they have a lot of sports memorabilia perhaps consider a stadium blanket, a seat cushion or a thermos for enjoying that game. Maybe preform acts of service rather than giving material goods. Perhaps organizing the classroom, giving storage bins, cleaning the desks, etc. might be a better gift!

It is always the thought that counts when gift giving, but we still like to do our best. As you may have noticed these gift ideas were more thematic than specific! Everyone is different and would enjoy different things!

Have more teacher gift suggestions or other questions? Please contact us, we would love to hear your thoughts.

The Importance of Business Cards for Subs!

The Importance of Business Cards among subs is something that many people debate. Since the influx of technology and websites that offer printing services more and more people have been turning to the internet to make everything from cards, address labels, and much more.

A new trend as of late has been for a substitute teacher to leave a business card with their substitute note for the teacher they are covering for. The cards sometimes have a pretty design or unique motif. The information on their card is any and all pertinent information pertaining to their work as a sub.

Information commonly included on sub’s business cards:

  • Full Name
  • Address
  • Email Address
  • Home and Cell Phone Numbers
  • Substitute ID (if this pertains to where they work)
  • Certification Area

All of this information provides important details to the teacher they came in for. There are a lot of benefits to taking the time to create business cards. They can be well worth the fee to create, particularly if you hunt down some online deals to save yourself some money.

What are these benefits? Well one of the first things to consider is the impression it gives the teacher when they return to class to see a neatly written note with a business card. It speaks volumes about your professionalism and responsibility.

Additionally it provides and all information the teacher could need if they wanted to contact you because they had a question about your letter or how the day went. If you mention that in your note you show a vested interest in the class and how it went.

Most importantly it provides all the teacher needs to know in order to request you as a substitute for them in the future. It can make it very convenient for them to specifically request you. Also, adding your certification can let them know if they could recommend you to fellow teachers.

Overall business cards could be considered a wise investment for substitute teachers.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments about different aspects of substitute teaching!

The Importance of the Flu Shot for All Teachers!

Many people discuss the importance of the Flu Shot for Teachers particularly during this time of the year. Everyone is coming down with colds, reports of the influenza virus are on the rise. Many doctors advocate the flu shot for the elderly, young, and those who are in contact with the public. Teaching is one of those professions.

As with everything there are some possible negative consequences of choosing to have a flu shot. Some of these may include an allergic reaction or even getting the flu anyway!

However, the numerous benefits are enough that any teacher, even substitute teachers should consider getting one.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Many insurances offer flu shots for free or reduced rates. Even if it  is not covered by insurance the fee for a flu shot at your local pharmacy is often much less than the cost of medication or missed work should you get the flu!
  • As a teacher you come in contact with a lot of students and their possessions. It can be very easy to get sick from your students!
  • You do not want to pass the flu on to your students! Once an illness enters a school many students and employees end up sick.
  • By not getting sick you are able to remain in school and help keep your students on track!
  • Some students may have compromised immune systems which prevent them from receiving the flu shot themselves. By trying to prevent yourself from getting it, you are helping to protect them.

These are just some reasons why to consider getting the flu shot. The relatively painless shot may be worth the many benefits. Schools incubate plenty of illnesses, so why not try to reduce one that actually could be reduced?

Keep in mind that if you are not able to receive the flu shot, there are other ways to try to remain healthy. You can use hand sanitizer and keep door knobs, keyboards, and other areas prone to collecting germs clean. If you have an allergy to eggs or other ingredients in the shot, then you simply cannot receive it. That does not make you a bad teacher or person! Just health conscious!

Please contact us for any and all teacher and substitute teacher questions and tips!

Photo © trainermomma1

Three Tips for Handling Stress

While we look forward to this time of year for the excitement of the holidays and spending time with family, it is likely that the holidays may be a stressful time for many teachers. Finding time to plan and implement classroom parties and holiday activities is difficult when juggling personal holiday shopping, decorating, and meeting their own family needs. With this in mind, the time of year that is intended to bring the most joy is often accompanied with the most stress.

Do not let stress ruin your holiday. Instead, implement the following tips toward making your season stress-free.

Three Tips For Handling Stress:

  • Exercise: While adding one more routine to your already crammed schedule sounds counter intuitive, know that experts at the Mayo Clinic assure us that exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Getting up just twenty minutes earlier in order to work in a brisk walk or a short aerobic routine will do wonders toward mitigating the harmful effects of stress on your body.
  • Laugh: It has been well documented that there are distinct health benefits to laughter, including increased relaxation, a boost to the immune system, a fresh release of endorphins, and increased blood flow to the heart. Besides the physical benefits, there are distinct social and mental benefits as well. So pop in a favorite comedy while you’re trimming the tree. Listen to an hour of stand-up comedy while you’re cleaning the house. Hang out with your best friends over a warm drink while sharing a laugh over the adventures of the past year. You will not be sorry.
  • Pamper Yourself: Like everything else in your life, this probably needs to be scheduled, but having a routine for unwinding is equally as important as having a routine for getting ready for the day. Be sure to make time for whatever relaxes you, whether it is a good book, a massage, a hot bath, or just lying in the dark listening to your favorite music.

Managing stress is not always easy, but the mental, physical, and social benefits make it well worth your while.

For the busy substitute teacher, remember that Subsidekick can further ease your stress by providing texts and e-mails to notify you of available jobs, meaning that you never have to worry about being out of the loop. For more information, please feel free to contact us.

Photo © smart_grades

Three Keys to Unlock the Power of Positive Reinforcement

“Ricky, get down! You shouldn’t be up there!”

“You can’t do that.”

“I don’t want to hear that language again.”

“We won’t be tolerating that behavior.”

If you hear phrases like these coming out of your mouth on a daily basis do not despair. It’s a struggle we have all had to face. For some reason, we almost seem to come pre-conditioned to jump immediately to the negative. Perhaps it’s human nature.

Not that negative statements are a complete no-no. Taking them out of our vocabulary entirely would lead to occasional communication breakdowns. But just as a pair of scissors does not work well without both blades in play, our interactions are decidedly less effective without balancing both types of reinforcement. And since negative reinforcement seems to come more naturally, it’s important that we make a conscious effort to practice positive reinforcement.

Three Keys to Unlock the Power of Positive Reinforcement:

  1. When possible, phrase corrections in the positive. This simple technique reminds us to say things like “Try it this way!” instead of “Don’t do it that way.” One little flip of the phrase makes all the difference.
  2. Check to see if you’re complementing after correcting. After encouraging students to try something in a new way, be sure to let them know that you’ve noticed their efforts by telling them that they’re doing a great job. If they’re still struggling unsuccessfully to implement the changes you’ve suggested, congratulate them for trying. Your continued encouragement could make all the difference; continue to encourage them until they get it right.
  3. Keep your eyes peeled and be timely with your comments. Although some find it tempting to wait until a more convenient moment (if there really is such a thing!) or store up positive comments for parent-teacher conferences or written progress reports, studies show that positive reinforcement is most effective when it’s offered immediately after the behavior.

Implement the above three keys as often as you can: you’ll soon find that practicing positive reinforcement will come to you more naturally than ever.

For more information on this or other classroom management issues, please feel free to contact us.

Photo © kim

Communicating with the Classroom Teacher – The Importance of leaving a note for the classroom teacher

At the end of your substitute teaching day, it is time for you to take care of some essential paperwork. Do not underestimate the importance of leaving a note for the classroom teacher. Leaving such a note gives YOU the chance to update on all the details of the day, much as you would if you were teaching together. Teachers appreciate this courtesy because it allows their return to be as seamless as possible, and are more likely to ask that you be called on for future absences in their room.

You can prepare for this note by purchasing stationary, making up a template, either on pre-printed forms, or on a laptop to be printed out or e-mailed to the teacher. Being organized in this way makes sure you remember each important area of communication, and demonstrates a professional level of involvement in the school as well as a concern for the smooth function of the classroom.

You may want to start with a section on the students themselves. Be specific: tell about any students who behaved particularly well or were helpful to you; include information about any disciplinary issues or students with personal concerns the teacher needs to be aware of. Give a full report on the day’s tasks; be sure to communicate what tasks were completed and which are unfinished, as well as explaining any interruptions that came up. Make a note if you realize the class is low on any sort of supply or notice anything needing attention. It is helpful to leave positive comments on the lesson plans the teacher provided for you and to take a moment to praise the good things you observed in the classroom.

Let the teacher know if there were any assemblies or news that affects the whole school. Classroom teachers will especially appreciate if you have any anecdotes from the day you can pass along. Look for a chance to find students or part of the day which delighted you and share these moments, as one colleague to another.

Take a few minutes to think about how to personalize this form for each specific grade level or subject you may be called upon to substitute in. Teachers in lower grades may need more information about individual students, for example. Some may appreciate feedback on how particular groups processed certain assignments.

We are here to support substitute teachers in all subjects. Please contact us for additional ideas to make your job more successful.

Photo © timvdl

Four Ways to Beat the Back To School Blues

The heady mixture of excitement and dread shared by both teachers and students each fall can have a potent effect. Although both groups are in need of extra sleep to deal with increased work and pressures, teachers and students alike often find themselves lying sleepless late into the night while going over mental checklists and running through every scenario to work out contingency plans.

The irony here is that these late-night planning sessions often result in a bleary-eyed zombie walk to the coffee pot the next morning rather than effective, full-scale assaults on the day.

But there are ways to beat the Back To School Blues. Allow us to offer just a few:

  • Accentuate the Positive – Make a mental note that this year, you are going to focus on improvements and positive developments. Although analyzing shortcomings and failures is a necessary first step toward correcting them, it does no good to wallow. Keep a notebook in which you write down one positive development for each day of the school year, thus focusing your day on looking for something to add to your list.


  • Plan for Disaster – Most of us decide when to get up based on how long it’s going to take us to get ready added to the length of our commute, meaning that any unexpected glitch in our routine spells absolute diaster. Building a twenty-to-thirty minute cushion into our morning routine may lose us a tiny bit of sleep, but it will give us time to deal with the minor disasters that seem to plague our mornings. On the bright side, if nothing goes wrong, we’ll have twenty extra minutes to sit and actually enjoy our breakfast or to sip an extra cup of coffee while we watch the sun rise.


  • Modify Caffeine Consumption – Although an afternoon or evening cup of coffee works as an emotional pick-me-up, every cup that we drink not only decreases the chances that we’ll fall asleep in a timely manner but also lessens the overall effectiveness of caffeine over time. The more coffee we drink, the more or brains compensate for the amount of caffeine we’re consuming, meaning that we’ll have to drink more and more in the long run in order for it to have any effect.


  • Keep a Balanced Psyche –  At one time or another, we’ve all fallen into the trap of making this time of year all-school-all-the-time, a road that’s sure to lead to burnout. It’s true that at times we will need to bring some work home with us, but it’s also true that the work quite literally never stops. So it’s important to learn where to draw the line for the day, when to put down the red pen (or scissors or glitter or plastic model of the solar system), have dinner, and unwind.


The truth is that although responding to the call of education will never be easy, there are steps we can take to mitigate the overwhelming affect it can have on our lives. Beating the Back to School Blues can be a good place to start.

For more information, please feel free to contact us.

Photo © anotherlunch

Just One Substitute Teaching Dilemma: Where Do I Eat Lunch?

If you substitute teach, as lunchtime rolls around, you might be asking yourself, “Where do I eat lunch?” You could eat in the classroom. Depending upon where you are substitute teaching, you might be able to sneak out and get some fast food or even go home for lunch. As a substitute teacher, the best place to eat lunch is where the other teachers are eating. Generally this is in a teachers’ lounge or in a lunchroom just for the faculty. There are a variety of reasons to do this, most of them having to do with building relationships.

First to Know About Job Openings

Many people substitute teaching do not view it as their ideal career choice. For them, it is a job until they find a more permanent position. By eating lunch with those working in the school, you will be able to establish relationships. If there is an opening in the school or sometimes within the district, whether it is a teaching position, a paraprofessional job, or another job, people will tell you about it if they know you. Not only will you be among the first to know about the job, but once you get to the know the people, they can act as references, making your chances of getting the job even greater.

Even if you do not want to work in a school, teachers know a lot of people, and just eating lunch with them will allow you to network. They may know of a job opening in your desired field. Again, these teachers can act as your references as you apply for work.

They Will Know You and Request You

Everyone likes to feel wanted. As you eat lunch with other teachers, you will be the name on their minds should they get sick or have to take a day off of work for another reason. They may request you to be their substitute. This is great because it allows you to get substitute teaching jobs, and it also allows you to get to know the students a little better. Being in a different school daily can get frustrating, but as you work in the same school, you can begin to learn the students’ names and personalities. Knowing the kids makes working with them so much easier.

Social Interaction

Whether you have been working all morning with whining six-year-olds, overly dramatic middle school students, manipulative high school students, or you have had well-behaved kids all morning, it can be nice to interact with other adults as you eat lunch. Plus, teachers who have worked with some of your problem students can give you valuable insight into how to handle the kids better. You never know what new friendships you might form during lunch.

Contact us to make sure you do not miss out on any substitute teaching opportunities in your area.

Photo © fxgt

Four Steps to Staying Healthy in the Classroom

Knee deep in the cold months, we find the cold and flu season upon us. Classrooms and hallways around the country echo with sniffles, wheezes, sneezes, and racking coughs. Unlucky teachers who are caught in the crossfire often find themselves going down for the count rather quickly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though, teachers can also help to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses in schools. By making wise choices and implementing simple preventative measures, teachers can help to keep themselves and their students healthy.

Four Steps to Staying Healthy in the Classroom:

Step One: Maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s been well documented that maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, drinking sufficient fluids, and getting enough rest are key elements in maintaining overall health. Poor nutrition, weight gain, dehydration, and exhaustion can all affect the strength of our immune systems.

Step Two: Promote clean hands. Although most students are taught from a young age to wash their hands after using the restroom or before meals, not all of them practice this simple routine consistently. Furthermore, students do not always have access to soap and water immediately after a coughing or sneezing attack. Be sure to keep an alcohol-based hand rub in your supply kit and share it with students and colleagues as often as needed.

Step Three: Keep your hands away from your face. Rubbing your eyes, licking your thumb before turning the page of a book, or using your fingernail to dislodge something stuck between your teeth — these are more than just bad manners. They’re habits that allow bacteria direct access to your system.

Step Four: Clean and disinfect surfaces and classroom objects. Recommended by the CDC, this important step calls you to focus on classroom danger zones: desktops, doorknobs, light switches, drawer handles, and so forth. When substitute teaching or guest lecturing in a new room, you could do worse than to arrive a few minutes early to wipe down key areas before the students arrive with disinfecting wipes.

Throughout the cold winter months and the rest of the school year, be sure to put these steps into practice in order to ensure a more healthy environment for you and your students.

For more classroom tips, please feel free to contact us.

Photo © sfgirlbybay

Why the Best Substitute Teachers Have Lesson Plans

It can be tempting to enter a substitute teaching position without a backup lesson plan, since most teachers provide substitutes with a lesson plan that has already been prepared.  Nevertheless, the Best Substitute Teacher always has a backup lesson plan on hand.  Coming prepared is a great way to make a good impression and ensure that the day runs smoothly.

A Backup Lesson Plan is Professional.  A substitute teacher should of course use the lesson plan provided by the teacher whenever possible.  However, coming prepared with a backup lesson plan demonstrates a substitute teacher’s commitment to the position.  Preparing a backup lesson plan in advance demonstrates that the substitute teacher took an extra step to improve the quality of his or her teaching.

A Lesson Plan Keeps Kids Engaged.  Even when a teacher has provided a lesson plan, it may not be detailed enough to keep students engaged.  For example, perhaps the teacher mentioned that students should review for a test, but never mentioned the manner in which the material should be reviewed.  A prepared substitute teacher will have a few games and other review methods outlined in a backup lesson plan.

A Lesson Plan Fills Empty Space.  The lesson plans that teachers provide often are not long enough to fill an entire school day or class period.  Preparing a backup lesson plan allows a substitute teacher to fill the empty space with enriching games or class discussion, without the awkwardness of trying to fill unforeseen empty time slots.  This keeps the day running smoothly, and gives substitutes the peace of mind that they will be prepared to use the day to its full potential.

If you would like to learn more about substitute teaching hints and advice, or are interested in learning how to secure a substitute teaching position, please visit our website or contact us for more information.