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Substitute Teaching Tips

Compiled By: Editor

Tips for substitute teachers

Posted by: Madi

Since you seem to have gotten a very good list of what to carry i have some substitute tips.

-Be flexible. If you are walking in to be a 1st grade teacher and the principal says he needs you for gym have you sneakers and something comfortable in the trunk of your car. Having once been asked to teack gym in an interview suit and high heels I learned my lesson well.

-As much as you can try to sub in a few buildigns and dont spread yourself all over the place. Where I live it is possible for me to sub in 2 school buildings doing elementary classes only every day. Once the teachers know you they will want you all the time. Also your discipline problems are cut in half or more. When the kids see you every day having lunch with their teacher they know that you arent going to not tell him or her what really went on in the room. They also get used to you and your style. It makes for much nicer days.You are able to build relationships with the staff and the prinicpal. I spread myself thin last year and I know that is one of the reasons I didnt have a job this fall. No one knew me. I know have a long term job for the rest of the year becuase they know and trust me.

-Dont forget to leave a note. I have heard lots of teachers complain about not being left a note by the sub. AND DONT LIE ABOUT THE KIDS!!! I know it sounds sill but when the kids are bad the teacher wants to know. i was told by the teacher down the hall one day to make sure the teacher knew exactly what the kids had done wrong. The regular teacher gets mixed signals whent the sub leaves a note saying htere were no problems and the teacher next door tells them the next day about screaming and yelling in the room.

Hope this helps...if you want more I've got more

Substitute Teaching
Posted by: Substitute Teaching

I was a substitute teacher for about a year before I was hired to my present teaching position. I found that if I left the teacher I subbed for a note stating the usual information put in a subs notes. However, I also told the teacher that I had enjoyed my time in their class and hoped that I could return to teach their class if they need a substitute in the future, I would often receive a call from the sub-caller (sub-service) asking me to sub for the same teacher as before. Also, if you strike up a conversation with or make aquaintances with other teachers in the building while you are subbing, and you feel comfortable enough, you might want to let them know that you would like to subbing at their school more and give them your name (and number if needed) in case they ever need a substitute. I have found that many teachers in a school have a substitute file, in which they keep the names of substitute teachers they have had in the past whom they have liked or they have been told about quality substitutes from their fellow teachers. I have been thinking about you handing out your resume to schools that you would like to sub for, and I am wondering if you might be able to network at a school by being friendly and talking to the staff members and doing a quality job following lesson plans, leaving notes, etc. (This type of networking worked for me at least.) Then, you wouldn't have to hand out your resumes to people that don't already know you are a good substitute. However, handing out your resume also gives you the chance of having your name and number put up in the staff work room as a possible sub to call. I guess it comes down to what you are most comfortable with. All I know is that when teachers find a good substitute they will request them and pass their name on to their other teacher friends. If a sub-caller (sub-service) is calling you versus teachers calling you directly, if the sub-caller sees that you are being requested to sub a lot and he or she likes you, you may just make it to the top of their call list and be subbing 4 to 5 times a week. I hope this is the case for you, because I was lucky enough to have this happen to me. Good luck and I wish you all the best.


Considering Substitute Teaching
Posted by: Deni

My advice would be to observe classroom teachers at different grade levels to acclimate yourself to various teaching techniques. What I did was ask to observe any teachers for which I was assigned to sub, and I was only turned down once. However, that turned out to be advantageous for me because another teacher from a multi-age classroom attending the same conference, allowed me to observe her teaching and that became my favorite class and most requested assignment. As I mentioned in a previous posting, the Substitute Teaching Institute of Utah has a very informative, helpful website and even offers a handbook to purchase online. This is the very same handbook given to me by the first school board offering me employment as a sub. You may find as a sub that the classroom teachers' discipline techniques don't get the same results for you. I use the Shooting for the Stars positive classroom discipline approach most of the time. (Kindergartners cannot grasp the concept of a 15 minute interval, so I haven't had good luck with that grade level using this approach.)

"Returning to Substitute Teaching"
Posted by: Amy


I returned to substitute teaching last fall after spending 8 years as a stay-at-home mom and I too was very nervous! It was a bit of a culture shock at first, going from a very quiet, happy home environment into busy classrooms of twenty or more students, not all of whom wanted to be there or listen to what I had to say. My best advice is to stay calm, keep your perspective and not let ANYONE shake your faith in yourself. Try to treat each new subbing date as a learning experience. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Carry a "subbing bag" and fill it with things to make your job easier. Stickers or candy to offer as incentives for good behavior. Extra pens and a notebook with extra paper in it. A folder with ideas or activity pages (word searches, crosswords,coloring sheets) in it for those times when there's nothing planned and you need something to keep the students occupied. Some good books to share with a class, again in case you find yourself with time on your hands. A whistle so you have something to get the kids' attention when it is time to line up on the playground. And don't forget little extras for yourself! Hand lotion, a water bottle, kleenex, your favorite kind of candy or a picture of your favorite person to cheer you up and remind you you're NOT ALONE! My last bit of advice is don't take it TOO seriously-there's just so much you can do in some situations when you are unfamiliar with the school and you have limited power and knowledge of the kids. Good luck!

Lesson plans . . .
Posted by: Lainy

It's not unusual for a teacher to leave plans such as you explained. I have subbed for some teachers who don't leave "plans" because they feel it's an insult to the subs intelligence. Instead, they leave their lesson plan book open on the desk. Then there are those teachers who don't know what to expect or must think a sub is going to permanently damage the students so they leave plans that "anyone, any age - j/k could follow. Sometimes plans are so detailed that it can be offensive and at other times it's an enormous help, depending upon the age, attitutdes, and academic aptitudes. They'll be times when you want to hug a teacher for leaving extremely detailed plans and they'll be times when you want to let the teacher know you're not incompetent . . . of course you can't do that .
It all depends on so many variables.

You really should not expect a teacher to leave a note on "how to handle the class;" this is something that comes with experience and also a bit of common sense. I often find the note that is left concerning the so-called "bad" students to keep on eye on completely useless as they often turn out to be the most well-behaved for me and the so-called "good" students are the ones to look out for.

As far a the spelling test, each student should have been able to tell you what the words for the week were. If they said they didn't know I would wager they were just trying to get out of taking the test. It's not unusual for a teacher to not leave the words in an easily accessible place.

Take it for what it worth, but I never listen to what the children tell me is allowed by their teacher. You'll have every other student telling you something different that you won't know who to believe or what to do. They just love pulling one over on the sub. You need to ignore all of the "our teacher let's us . . . " and "our teacher doesn't do it that way" and do what "you" think is appropriate. You need to "feel the class out," so to speak...

This is not, in any way meant to offend you, but you sound young and inexperienced. A teacher should not ever have to instruct you in writing or verbally as to when you should jump in and help students with an assignment. This, again is common sense . . . and experience in some cases.
Don't ever assume that children can figure things out for themselves; you don't know any of their physical, emotional, academic, etcetera strengths and/or weaknesses. You need to make yourself available to every student.

No one can tell you how the class is "suppose to go." How the day will go will depend largely on you.

I think the children didn't "mind" you because they could see that you were uncertain/uncomfortable. I would suggest that you come to your assigned classes earlier in the morning than you are scheduled to be there so that you can review the plans, plan book, look for materials, make photocopies, etcetera. In time you will find yourself needing to do this less and less, as you become for confident with the age/grade level. I wouldn't tell you that any particular grade/age level is easy or difficult . . . each group (class) is going to be different from the next. Some 3rd grade classes can be horrid while others will be your dream class.

There are a lot of good techniques on behavior management. You should scroll through this board and you'll find some good ideas . . .it would take me too long to explain them in detail, but look for "secret student," "class letter," "3 stars," and more. There are a lot of great ideas floating around out there.

From what you wrote I would advise against middle school. Middle school is often the toughest ages in many areas. I think they'd eat you alive, no offense, truly.

I hope this has helped and that I didn't offend you in any way.

Good luck!