Tips for Substitute Teachers

Being a substitute teacher can be pretty hard work. You are expected to walk into a classroom and instantly know procedures and routines based on what the classroom teacher has left for you for the day! You probably don’t know any of the students and they don’t know you. You’re in for a bit of a challenge, but with a few simple tips, you’ll be able to breeze through your day.

1. Always be prepared.

You might think it’s tough to walk-in feeling prepared for your day, but there are definitely some ways you can try to be prepared for anything. You’ll know what age/grade you will be working with the night before (hopefully!), so have some things “at the ready” in case you end up with extra time. You could find printable word searches, crossword puzzles, or Sudoku online and print copies for the students before your day gets started. If you’re familiar with games like “Heads Up, Seven Up,” “Hangman,” or “I Spy” for younger students, you could use those as time fillers as well!

2. Be confident!

The more confident you are in your own ability to manage a classroom, the more likely it is that the students will respect and listen to you. Your classroom management will become much easier if you reassure the students you know exactly what you’re doing through your actions (even if you have no idea!).

3. Be flexible.

Substitutes often fill-in for multiple positions throughout the day. Since you are just a substitute teacher for the day, you won’t necessarily need a “planning period.” Oftentimes, the school will re-assign you to a study hall or lunch duty during that time. Be flexible and plan to move around. It’s likely to happen.

4. Be positive.

Choose your battles. As a substitute, you’ll likely be much more successful by rewarding behavior that you expect, instead of punishing those who are misbehaving. You’ll be much more appealing to the students if you can include some way for their day to be more enjoyable than normal. Rewards can be simple: promising a reward of a funny story, two extra minutes of free time, or simply having time to pack-up early will go a long way with a classroom full of students.

Before you leave the school, make sure the staff knows what a great day you had. This will help you with future job opportunities. If they know you had a good day, and they hear good things from the students, they are likely to request that you fill a vacant spot in the upcoming weeks.

5. Set the tone.

The students are waiting to see how far they can push you, so be sure to set your boundaries early. Your expectations should be clear from the moment the students walk in. With younger children, you might need to write it on a poster and hang it up for simple reminders. For older students, your expectations should be set verbally as soon as the bell rings. The key to classroom management is communication.

6. Stay alert!

Sub Sidekick is the perfect way to stay up-to-date with recent job openings. With an account through Sub Sidekick, you’ll be able to accept jobs as quickly as possible. The further in advance you know about a job, the more prepared you’ll likely feel walking into the assignment. Stay alert with Sub Sidekick. Contact us to set up an account.

As a substitute teacher, you are a role model for the day. The connection you make with the students has the opportunity to stay with them for life. The smoother the day goes for the both of you, the better!

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