Photo © CubaGallery

A Summer Guide for the Substitute Teacher

As summer comes crashing toward your doorstep, it is once again time for substitute teachers to devise a plan to get through the coming months. For all, it should be a time for some relaxation and reflection. For others, it is time to boldly go where a school year cannot take you.

For some folks, this means keeping up financially. Since substitute teaching is at a premium during the summer, some may want to look into teaching for a summer school or summer camp. Begin looking early in the spring for the best chances at obtaining a paying job. Other professional endeavors may include summer nannying, sitting, or tutoring. This will keep you current working with the population that you most want to deal with, whether the environment be leisurely or paced to progress in an area of study. Scoring standardized testing might be an option depending on where you live.

Besides employment in areas dealing with children, other types of seasonal or part time jobs can be found. Some areas near big cities or tourist attractions will need people to fill all sorts of roles, from bicycle tours to selling burgers at a local ball game, cleaning hotel rooms to fishing. Find your fun spot and follow that to a job that’s right for you during the hot summer months. Other possible options include temp agencies and house painting to round options out.

For substitute teachers who wish to extend their professional side, summer is a time to improve your credentials. You could take a course online or from a local college. This is one way to update your certifications or increase the CEUs going toward that status. Some workshops travel throughout the summer and set up shop in hotels, where they rent a hall to teach the masses when teachers can get refreshed on the latest in skills and techniques. It’s a great opportunity to keep up with the local curriculum. Networking is a sidebar to these gatherings to know where the best places to sub are located. Another is to be ahead of the game by seeing if your district uses the latest technology, Sub Sidekick, to get substitute teachers in place quickly. Contact us to see if you are ready for the upcoming school year.

No matter how a substitute teacher decides to spend their summer months, it is always a goal to have a plan that will help you maintain or gain your strengths into facing a new school year fully refreshed both personally and professionally.

Photo © CubaGallery

Photo © GreenlightForGirls

5 Easy Substitute Teacher Tricks: One For Every Age

The first impression you make as a new substitute is supremely important. Whether your assignment is for one day or one month, the impression you make on those kids will mean the difference between respectfully engaged children, and total chaos. The students will test you. They’ll want to know if you’re a fun substitute, or an army sergeant substitute. In reality, you’ll have to be a bit of both.

Worry not, my fellow sub. There are ways to get your student’s attention, and still foster a fun learning environment. It all depends on their age. Here are 5 Substitute Teacher Tricks, each for a different age group.

1. Kindergarten

These kids are generally fun-loving and rowdy. They will listen to you because you’re an adult. A common challenge is that they’re usually not accustomed to student life yet. Don’t expect them to sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time. A great trick is to have a sing-along. Nothing keeps a young child’s attention more than learning a new tune. Get them singing and dancing along to your movements as soon as you can to help them get all that energy out!

2. 1st-2nd Grade

Kids in this age range are just starting to develop individual personalities. They’re still up for anything, but are likely to question something they don’t understand. Get their brains going with some fun word games and riddles. They will get engaged, and they’ll be yours the rest of the day.

3. 3rd-5th Grade

You’ll have to be firm with these kids. Enter with a decisive walk and write your name on the board. This will immediately assert your authority. Speak clearly and let them know what you expect of them. A reward system is a good way to achieve positive results. They’re still at an age where small things entice them. Let them know if they behave well, they’ll get to pick from the “reward bucket”. You can have small candies, little toys, plastic bracelets, and other fun little things!

4. 6th-8th Grade

You’re now dealing with adolescents. They will likely be more interested in socializing when their regular teacher is absent. Be firm and clear about what you expect from them. If they finish their assignment early, review it again. Have a fun game in your back pocket, just in case. Twenty questions is good for kids in this age range.

5. High School

Don’t be scared, most kids ages 14-18 are relatively self-contained. Kids this age love independent study. Let them know that if they’re quiet, and finish their work satisfactorily, you’ll give them 15 minutes of “study hall” at the end of the period. Let them start their homework, or do work from a different subject. They’ll love you for it!

The idea of walking into someone else’s classroom can be daunting. You must remember not to be too hard on yourself. Let the kids know you’re the boss, and that respect is a two-way street. If they’re respectful to you, you’ll be respectful to them. It’s a good lesson in life, too. For more information, and other substitute teacher topics contact us.

Photo © GreenlightForGirls

Photo © ToniVC

Substitute Teacher Tricks – Time Management Game

Experienced teachers will attest to good planning as the reason why they have so few discipline problems in their classrooms. When students are bored, confused, or sitting idle, they are certain to find trouble. Sometimes this happens despite the best planning; students may finish an activity quicker than expected or the pacing of the lesson was underestimated. Regardless, every substitute teachers knows that the final 10 minutes of a class period can be the most dangerous when students have completed all work and have nothing to do. Here is a simple teacher trick that students love – it will keep them out of trouble and make it easy for you to manage the class.

Game: Motion Detector

Target Audience: Students in grades K – 8

Materials needed: None

Overview: One student is chosen to be the leader and another is chosen to be the detective. The leader leads the group in a series of hand gestures, claps, and movements as the detective attempts to guess who is leading.


  • Have students sit in a circle, either on their desks or on the floor. They need to able to see each other reasonably well.
  • Begin by choosing a detective. Ask this student to move away and face with his back to the group.
  • With the detective unable to see, silently choose a leader by pointing to a student. Ask the rest of the group to nod their heads in confirmation if they see who is the leader.
  • The leader will now begin to do some kind of hand movement such as snapping fingers, clapping hands, etc. and the rest of the group will do the same. Whenever the leader changes to something new, the group will follow the pattern.
  • Ask the detective to rejoin the group and stand in the center of the circle. The detective gets three guesses to identify the leader.
  • If necessary, impose a 30 second time limit for each guess to keep the game moving smoothly. Also, encourage the leader to change the hand movement frequently to keep the game interesting.
  • After three guesses or when the leader has been identified, the round is over. The detective can rejoin the group and new students can be chosen for each role.

Rounds of Motion Detector can continue indefinitely until the class period is over. Students enjoy the competitive nature of the game and find delight in coming up with creative things for the leader to do. Motion Detector works as a great time management technique. The next time you find yourself in a classroom with time to spare, remember that the sound of students clapping in unison is far better than the alternative!

Contact us for more tricks and tips for better substitute teaching.

Photo © ToniVC

Photo © Voguemarie2010

Long-Term Substitute Teacher Can Build Confidence

Let’s face it.  If you want to become a well respected and gifted teacher, you are going to need practice.  Getting in front of a class as much as possible is the key to becoming everything you ever wanted to be.  This is why spending time as a long-term substitute teacher is a great way to build confidence on your way to becoming a full time teacher.

Making The Commitment

The first thing you need to do is make the commitment to becoming a substitute teacher.  Getting the proper qualifications is not the hardest thing in the world, but you need to be prepared.  Most any substitute teacher will either need a Bachelors degree or the proper education classes from an accredited university.  They will also have to get certified before even being able to teach with a supervisor.  In the end, making the commitment is the best thing to do.

Get In It For The Long Haul

Whether you are planning on teaching different classes each day or doing a long term week when the normal teacher is on leave, you should use this time to really learn your craft and get more comfortable in front of a class.  Nerves are a killer and taking every chance you can to squash them will help you out immensely.  This is going to be your career so you should get as much practice as you can in the minor leagues, so to speak, before you get moved up to the main team.

When it comes to being a substitute teacher, making the commitment then staying in it for the long haul until you become an expert are the keys to truly becoming successful.  If you cannot accomplish these, then you should find another career path.  If you are a substitute teacher looking for work, please contact us.

Photo © Voguemarie2010

Photo © DallasISD2008Bond

Tips That Will Make A Good Substitute Great

Anyone who has ever started a new job can attest that no matter how prepared you may be, there is always a learning curve. Because substitute teachers often spend each day in a new classroom with new students,that learning curve never quite goes away. Undoubtedly, as a substitute, you will make mistakes. However, learning from the mistakes of others will make you a better substitute teacher. Here are three simple tips that will make a good substitute great. For more tips, visit our website or feel free to contact us!

Communicate expectations
As a substitute, you only have a limited amount of time to establish yourself in the classroom and then accomplish the day’s goals. To do so, you must communicate your expectations to students in a manner that is grade appropriate and clear. Your role in the classroom is the same as the primary teacher, even though some students may not feel that is the case. One good tip for establishing expectations with a class is to write a step-by-step set of tasks on the board. This will provide the class with a visible reminder of their responsibilities and will help you maintain focus for yourself and your students.

Keep good records
Classroom teachers appreciate a substitute who can be relied upon to make their transition back into the classroom as unobtrusive to student learning as possible. It is important that you keep good records of all of the happenings during the day so that the primary teacher can return confident in what must be accomplished. It’s a good idea to keep a notepad handy with a running log of any student discipline problems, absences or tardies, or challenges the students may have had with the material that was left for you to cover. This simple act will demonstrate that you were invested in the class as well as the responsibilities charged to you by the teacher.

Go above and beyond 
It is likely that there will be down time in your schedule because most teachers have responsibilities such as department meetings or personal planning time tht are planned into their daily routine. Rather than sit idle in an empty classroom, use this time to volunteer your services to other teachers in the building. Something as simple as offering to make photocopies will demonstrate your dedication to the school and will keep your name fresh in the minds of other teachers who may soon require a substitute. It’s a good tip to check in when possible with the secretary or support staff in the building who is in charge of coordinating substitute services.

If you’re interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d love to hear from you!

Photo © DallasISD2008Bond

Photo © NaliniPrasanna

A List of Substitute Teacher Tips

Being a substitute teacher isn’t an easy feat. Students that are normally well behaved for their usual teacher can often be difficult when a substitute comes in. If you are just beginning your career here are some substitute teacher tips that you should know.

When you accept any job as a substitute, make sure to look at a map of the school district. It is important for you to arrive at the school on time. You want to avoid traffic at all costs, even if you have to leave a few minutes earlier than you normally would. If you happen to be early, just remember that it is always better than being late. It shows that you are reliable and it will give you time to get to know the classroom. When you arrive find out where the teacher keeps extra supplies and don’t forget to ask where the lunch room and copy machine are.

Each school has a different way to handle fire drills. Find out how the school handles them, so if there is ever a fire drill you are prepared. Ask another teacher where your class goes in case of a fire drill. It is also a good idea to know where lesson plans are located. If you are subbing because there was an emergency, the lesson plans may be located in the office. Carry a blank seating chart with you, as one may not always be available. When the students come in, ask them their names and fill out the chart.

Keep track of the days you teach, in case there is a mistake in your payroll. To do this we recommend carrying a small notebook in your purse or bag. Write down the date, room number and the name of the teacher you subbed for. You may want to take notes on different schools as well, in the event that you get called back and need to be refreshed on policies. Make sure to let the students know that you are in charge and everything should go smoothly. If you want more information please feel free to contact us.

Photo © NaliniPrasanna

Become the Preferred Substitute Teacher in Your District by Joining the SmartFindExpress Network

As a substitute teacher, you are the person the district depends on when absences occur. Permanent teachers get sick, unforeseeable circumstance arise, and accidents happen. When things go wrong, make sure you are the one called to fill in by joining SmartFindExpress. School Districts nationwide are turning to this premiere software in absence management to fill positions when help is needed.

Being a SmartFindExpress sub means you are dependable and ready whenever duty calls. This software is known for filling absences with the best substitute teachers in the district. In addition to the ease of finding positions as a SmartFindExpress substitute teacher, you can easily become the preferred substitute and be the first sub contacted when your district has an absence to fill.

Benefits of Using SmartFindExpress

Automated Job Alerts – Sub Sidekick provides automated job alerts to substitute teachers allowing them to easily accept or decline opportunities as they become available. Alert types include mobile messages and email messages. Tips, tricks, and secrets for using the service are found on Sub Sidekick’s website.

Embedded Help Videos – The system has support videos placed directly in the interface available 24 hours a day. These help videos provide the assistance you need when you need it.

Access Lesson Plans – When teachers do not want students to miss out while they are away, they can enter lesson plans for their substitute to follow. These plans are easily accessible over the system so you will know exactly what you are teaching that day.

Text to Speech Instruction – Once an employee enters the details of an assignment into the system, SmartFindExpress converts the text into a recorded message for the substitute teacher. Upon accessing the system by phone, you hear the recorded message. It is as if the teacher is talking directly to you, which adds a personal touch to each offer you receive.

How to Join the Network

Becoming a SmartFindExpress substitute teacher is as easy as contacting your district to receive a system ID number. Once you have the ID number, you can register through the login page on your district’s website or by calling a provided network phone number. After completing registration, sign up for a free trial of Sub Sidekick to start receiving job alerts.

Becoming the Preferred Substitute

When placing an assignment in SmartFindExpress, the employee has the choice of requesting a specific substitute teacher or placing a general request. Once you have subbed at a school, you have a better chance of being chosen for more assignments. Make sure no one else is chosen above you. Follow these tips to become the preferred substitute and be the first choice for every assignment.

Show up on time, ready to fulfill your duty. If you are late, you’ll make a bad first impression. Get to your assignment early, and prepare yourself for the students before they arrive. Brush up on the school’s dress code before attending. Be courteous to the other teachers, and introduce yourself. A good first impression shows professionalism and an eagerness to teach. This helps secure your place as a first choice for the next assignment.

Follow instructions left by the teacher. The permanent teacher must get through a specific amount of information within the confines of the school year. Missing days can put a kink in that plan. Teachers are trusting you to teach the students so they will not fall behind. Closely following lesson plans keeps the students on track. It allows the teacher to rest, knowing that they will not need to catch up when they return. When teachers feel they can depend on you to continue what they started, they are more likely to call on you the next time they need to miss a day.

For more great tips on becoming the requested teacher, check out this blog post.

Get Started Now

SmartFindExpress is a great service that many school districts across the nation depend on to fill their absences. Substitute teachers are a very necessary part of any education system. Be the best substitute you can be by making yourself available and being ready to fill any role.

With easy-to-follow tutorials, tips and tricks for using the service, and customized job alerts that match your skills and preferences, Sub Sidekick can help you become the preferred SmartFindExpress substitute in your district. Contact Sub Sidekick for more information on the free trial and the services they provide.

Photo © Kreg.Steppe

Become a AesopOnline Preferred Substitute

One of the unique features of AesopOnline is the ability for teachers to create a list of preferred substitutes for their classroom. Getting added to this list not only guarantees you more jobs, but will also give you the opportunity to work in the same classroom with the same students on a regular basis

Here are three easy ways to make sure teachers recognize you as an excellent substitute and add you as a preferred substitute:

1. Leave your mark

If a teacher doesn’t have a preferred substitute list already established, chances are you may have been chosen at random for the assignment. Unfortunately, this means there is little connection between you and the teacher. This can be easily remedied by creating profession business cards to leave for the teacher’s reference in the event of another absence. Professional quality business cards can be created for as little as $10. It’s well worth the investment.

2. Keep the teacher informed

Teachers like to know what happened in their absence. Be sure to keep accurate notes throughout the day indicating students’ progress as well as any behavioral problems you may have encountered. The teacher will be able to return the next day and pick up where you left off without any problems. Your consistency in doing so will make you appear more dependable, and therefore more likely to get added to the preferred substitute list.

3. Follow directions

As a substitute, you may occasionally find yourself in the position where you must use your emergency plans, but usually the teacher will have left you materials. If this is the case, that teacher has the expectation that you will follow directions to the best of your ability. This can be difficult because it sometimes puts you in a position as a professional educator where you may want to modify the lesson as you see fit for the benefit of the students. Remember that you are only seeing a snapshot of the overall unit and the teacher may have other plans ready for when he/she returns. By being a team player and following directions, you will prove yourself as a reliable substitute and the teacher will be more likely to add you to the preferred substitute list.

For more helpful tips to secure you substitute teaching jobs, visit our blog or contact us!

Photo © Kreg.Steppe

May I Park Here? Questions to Consider When Subbing

As a substitute teacher, there are helpful hints you probably didn’t learn in your substitute teaching class. But following these seven hints can help make your day run more smoothly and can even make you stand out from other substitutes in a positive way.

1. As you drive into the parking lot, try not to park in the spots closest to doors.  Although there are no assigned parking spots, some teachers tend to have a favorite that they have been parking in for years, often the ones closest to the doors.

2. Before school starts, locate a teacher’s bathroom that’s closest to your classroom. Also, find out who can cover your class if nature calls during class time.

3. Are the students overly energetic? Ask if it’s okay to take them out for an extra recess. If so, make sure the doors stay unlocked or are propped open so you can get back in.

4. Is it okay to drink the coffee in the teacher’s room coffee maker? Often, teachers pool their own money to buy coffee. Before pouring, ask if it’s okay to have a cup. If you’re doing a long term subbing job, offer to contribute to the coffee collection.

5. Be careful about school gossip. If a teacher comes to you and starts to complain about the teacher you’re subbing for, politely change the topic. You don’t want a reputation as a sub who gossips.

6. Ask how the copy machine works. Is it okay to step out of the room to make an extra copy of a worksheet while students are in the room?

7. Finally, it’s helpful to know what time you’re expected to leave and what you need to do to clean up at the end of the day.

So next time you get that morning call or accept a subbing job on AesopOnline, keep these eight hints in mind for an enjoyable day as a substitute teacher.

Photo © Kreg.Steppe

How to Cancel a Job using the AesopOnline Service

We’ve already told you how easy it is to accept a job using AesopOnline, but occasionally the need arises to cancel a job that was booked using Absence Management, formally known as AesopOnline. This may be because another more desirable job opportunity became available, or perhaps something came up on your personal agenda. Regardless, cancelling a job is easy – just follow these simple steps.

First, log in to the system using your ID and pin number. By default, the page will display available absences. Since you intend to cancel a job rather than reserve a new job, click on the “Scheduled Absences” tab. This tab will display all upcoming jobs scheduled through AesopOnline. Locate the job you wish to cancel. Click the red cancel button located in the upper right of that job’s description. The system will prompt you to confirm the cancellation. It’s that simple!

Just a warning – Some jobs cannot be cancelled because you either do not have permission in the system, or because it is too close to the start time for that job. If this is the case, contact the school immediately to notify them of your cancellation. You should always try to present yourself as a dependable substitute. You do not want to make a negative impression that may hinder future employment opportunities.

AesopOnline is a robust system to help manage substitute teaching jobs. Despite all the excellent features, navigating the system is intuitive and easy. Feel free to contact us for any additional help. AesopOnline will assure that you get the jobs you want, when you want!