Substitute Survival: 5 Tips to Success

Being a substitute teacher can be stressful and tiring. Here are five tips you can follow to help you feel less stressed and more prepared.  These five tips will lead to enjoyable days of substituting and you will find yourself on the path to becoming a preferred substitute.

Tip #1 Be Confident

Students are experienced when it comes to having substitutes.  They know when someone is confident and will show respect to those that are.  Being confident in a classroom means dressing the part and a willingness to take charge of a classroom that you are just stepping into.

Tip #2 Be Prepared

Go prepared with your own plans.  There are numerous websites that have discussion questions to use with high-interest books.  I suggest selecting books related to other content areas such as science.  It has been my experience cross-curricular books generate the highest level of engagement amongst students. Remember teachers work to create plans for you but sometimes things don’t work out but your preparedness will be for those times.

Tip #3 Know Your Expectations

Teachers establish classroom expectations but there is no harm in preparing your own.  Keep your expectations clear but simple. This will help establish you are a visiting teacher that is confident and supportive of a positive classroom environment during your visit.

Tip #4  Make a Substitute Binder

Create your own binder containing your expectations you share with each classroom you visit as well as your own lesson plans.  I advise getting some plastic sleeves to place picture books in with your guiding questions and/ or lessons.  Have originals of accompanying assignments in the event you need some other back up materials.  Other great materials to include are poems, spreadsheets to fill in student names to track behavior, and any other materials you feel will help you be prepared and confident.

Tip #5  Know Your Audience

Select jobs that align with your preferences, knowledge, and skills. It is challenging to be in a classroom with an age group you are uncomfortable with or you have limited knowledge of their developmental stages.  It may be hard to turn down a job or two but working with students you can help or understand the stage of life they are in will give you and them confidence.  The benefit is you will be happy and will feel more fulfilled.

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