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.


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.

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!