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Substitute Teacher Communication Shows Preparedness and Professionalism

Most school districts require every teacher to have backup lesson plans available  in the event that something unexpected comes up.

However, just as the lesson plans are often disconnected from the regular classroom routine – and, even worse, the topic being discussed by the class, details of the schedule and pertinent procedures are often lacking.

To ensure that the day runs smoothly and to leave a good and professional impression, create a Substitute Teacher Communication document that features a checklist with check in points, an area for notes, and a place for feedback for the teacher for whom you are substituting.

Your checklist should detail the following information in order to ensure that the basics are covered and to ensure that you are where you need to be, doing what you need to do:

  • Room number, location, and map
  • Office contact information
  • Class roster
  • Lesson Plans folder
  • Teacher schedule
  • Extra duties, times, and locations
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Medical information of students, if necessary

The notes area pertains to the lessons and classes, and it will fluctuate depending on the grade of the students.

For example, if you are substituting for a classroom elementary teacher, you might have the same students for the full day, but if you are substituting for a specialist, middle school or high school teacher, you’ll probably encounter several different class groups.

The notes are ultimately for your benefit, and can be used for reflection or to help you recall information that you want to relay to the teacher.

Finally, add a feedback form to record the highlights of the day for the absent teacher and to thank him or her for the opportunity to sub.

In this way, you’re more apt to have a positive experience and likely to be asked to sub again.

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How To Become A Substitute Teacher – Follow This Process

How to become a substitute teacher may vary depending on the state protocols; however, the following are general guidelines for becoming a substitute teacher in a public school setting.

First, contact the desired school district to speak with personnel director in charge of substitute teachers or research the qualifications and procedures on the district websites.

Generally, substitute teacher candidates are required to have earned 60 credits from an accredited college before being eligible for substitute certification.

Once a candidate can produce an official transcript, he or she should make an appointment to visit with the personnel officer to complete necessary forms and to provide any other required documentation.

The next part of the process is fingerprinting. All persons dealing with students are generally required to undergo a background check and fingerprinting to ensure the safety of any children.

Reimbursement for this process is at the discretion of the district and will be disclosed at the time of the initial visit.

Moreover, the results of this process vary and notification will be typically be sent to the candidate and to the district office for verification.

Following the application and completion of the background check, the substitute teacher candidate will receive a certification or notice to teach in that district, and finally the procedures for securing substitute teaching jobs will be outlined.

There are several ways to find out when sub positions are opened in a school district. In addition to contacting the school directly, many schools provide services like AesopOnline, SubFinder, SmartFindExpress, and WillSub that list available jobs on a website or alert substitute teachers of job openings by telephone.

Once the substitute is in the system, it’s a simple matter of accepting the jobs that are right for them – and usually that’s on a first come, first served basis.

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Substitute Teacher Tips in the Event of a School Emergency or Drill

Many schools go to great lengths to ensure their teachers and staff are prepared for an emergency situation. How informed and well trained are the substitute teachers that enter the schools everyday? In some cases you, as a substitute teacher, are entering a new classroom on a daily basis. While delivering lesson plans that aren’t your own are probably your biggest concern, the safety of the children and yourself trump academics. There should be at least 4 safety measures you take upon entering the classroom.

1.) Locate the fire and tornado drill policies. Schools are required by law to run a certain number of fire and tornado drills each year. If you avidly sub in any school district or area, chances are you’re going to experience a drill. Read their policies and know which exits to use or where to move the children in the event of a drill. Different areas of the building use different exits. Know how to navigate your surroundings. Some drills may require you to close the door and turn the lights off before exiting or opening the windows. Not understanding the correct way to perform a drill can cause problems for the principal and school staff.

2.) Read and understand the school’s lockdown policy. Every school has different procedures to follow, however most include shutting the blinds, turning the lights off, locking the door, and covering the window on the door. Taping paper over the door window is the easiest way to cover it. Know where to find these items. Some schools are now giving subs the keys to the classrooms in the event of a lockdown. If you’re not given a key know where to find the closest teacher. Locking the door is important. You need to do this!

3.) Locate the phone and phone list. A phone is essential to communication with others if an emergency situation arises. Chances are the office secretary will be calling the classroom during a lockdown drill for attendance. You’ll need to know where the phone is located in order to answer it! This might sound silly but there are cases of classroom phones being located in strange places. Ask the students if necessary. They know the room better than you do. A phone is no good without a list of important numbers. If you can’t find one ask for the office or neighboring teacher phone numbers. Chances are they’ll be glad to give it to you.

4.) Take attendance!! You’d be surprised how many substitute teachers, and even full-time teachers, skip out on attendance. Check the absence list and make sure you know each child on your class list is there. If not, report the names to the office immediately. When the children are at school they are the school’s responsibility.

Substitute teaching can be a fun experience. It can also be stressful if you feel unprepared or that your students’ safety is being compromised. Remember these substitute teacher tips and you’re mind will be at ease!

Photo © Dane.Gre87

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Lessons On How To Become A Substitute Teacher

If you are serious about pursuing teaching as a professional career, then learning how to become a substitute teacher is a good place to start.  One of the strong advantages of beginning as a substitute teacher is the ability to test the field before you fully commit yourself.  Working as a substitute brings necessary insight to individuals who desire a full-time teaching position, like much needed experience with students and the classroom environment.  In addition, the substitute platform affords the luxury of flexibility, which is not the case for full-time teachers.  To become a substitute teacher, you must know the appropriate steps and process.

First, you should familiarize yourself with the policies of the school district in which you will be substitute teaching.  Many school districts require that you have a bachelor’s degree from a four-year-university, while some only require a high school diploma.  In addition to the requirements of the school district, you must completely fill out the application to the best of your ability for serious consideration.  Many school districts will also require you to take basic aptitude tests to ensure you are prepared to teach.  Make sure you allot any time necessary to take such tests.  A lot of school districts rely on automation systems these days to quickly place substitutes in the roles of absent teachers.  It is crucial that you familiarize yourself with the particular automation system that your school district uses.

Finally, networking is the best way to secure either a short-term substitute teaching position or a long-term assignment if the teacher is going to be out for a long period of time.  If you make a great, first impression with the staff and administrative figures, you are likely to receive additional work and increase your chances of a more full-time assignment.  Since acquiring a full-time teaching position is often the end result that most people seek, getting to know the administration through substituting and networking will definitely place you higher in the rankings.

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