Rapport: The Best Substitute Teacher Tricks

Substitute teaching brings with it many obstacles, but using the tips at http://www.subsidekick.com/ will help substitutes recognize and apply subtle strategies that will make classroom experiences more productive and enjoyable.

The key to successfully substitute teaching is establishing rapport with the students right out of the gate. Regardless of whether you are working elementary, middle school, or high school age students, they need to know immediately that you will treat them respectfully. When it comes to sending this message, the substitute only has a few minutes to communicate this in order to establish a successful teacher-student relationship that will eliminate many potential classroom disruptions.


Welcome: Greet students at the door as they enter.

Greet: Look them in the eye and offer a high-five, handshake, or fist bump. Even the most difficult students appreciate being noticed.

Assured: Speak in a strong, commanding tone. They are sizing you up from the first second they see you. Send the message that you are in total command of the classroom, even if you are feeling a little nervous.

Ally: If anyone gives you a chance, ask a question to get that student talking about themselves. When you open the class, refer to the student you met and the story he/she told you. Illustrating that you have interest in students builds their confidence and makes them feel important. In the classroom, students who feel appreciated by the teacher respond more positively to instruction.

Beginning Class

Attention: When you open the class, don’t speak over them, even if you have to wait for several minutes. Ask for their attention once and praise the students that comply. With younger grades, the classroom teacher may have left a signal like raising your hand or clapping once or twice. Check the plans for these procedures as you will establish credibility with the students by following the same procedures as their regular teacher.

One-on-One: When classroom disruptions occur, speak to the offending student off to the side, giving him/her the chance to avoid embarrassment. Be direct. Clearly state the behavior you are expecting to see, instead of addressing why the past behavior was wrong. This way, students can agree to compliance without feeling attacked.

Communicate: Be sure the directions are both printed on the board and clearly stated verbally. If they ask follow-up questions, direct them to the written instructions. That way, you are free to address academic rather than procedural questions.

During Class

Circulate: To students, substitute teachers sitting at the desk appear disinterested and/or disengaged. To avoid sending this message, move around the room, checking in with the students on their progress.

Compliment: Reward all positive behaviors with praise. You do not need to address every negative behavior, but praising positive behaviors will set the tone for students to want your approval. Positive behaviors are just as contagious as negative ones.

End of Class

Minimize Chaos: Keep students in their seats until the bell rings.

Reward Students: I recommend giving them a few minutes of free time or a special privilege if they were good. You will build a reputation through this simple act that will encourage future interactions with that group and other groups in the same building to cooperate.

Substitute teachers are a critical part of all high achieving schools, and there are many things substitute teachers can do to increase their chances for success. Please contact us or read our blog for additional tips and tricks.

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