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Brand new... and feeling a little clueless!


New Member
After finally getting all my paperwork processed, I am on the subbing lists in three different districts - something I was very excited about yesterday.

It was a different story this morning - I woke up at 5:30 feeling a little terrified that my phone was going to ring... and I didn't relax again until after 8.

I just completed my student teaching before graduating in December, so I've been in a school and I'm pretty comfortable in the classroom - but the thought of walking into a random room and having no idea what to expect is freaking me out - A LOT!

I've read a lot of the posts on here and found some really good tips... but I'm wondering what I should be doing to prepare for subbing (esp. my first day!)... Is there something I should be doing or reading to get myself ready? I feel like I will be so overwhelmed when I walk into that first classroom - where do I start (on my own, and then when the kids come)? ANY advice you can give would be VERY much appreciated!

Thanks in advance :o


Early in class...

Depends on the grade of the kids & what your school district requires....
I always try to get into the class at least 15 minutes before the first bell, that way I have time to go over the lesson plans (hopefully you will have some)..... Then I go over the roll call list, make a note what grade level or if it is a mixed class (high school does this)..... Also read the instructions from the teacher on procedure of hall passes & restroom runs..... When the kids start coming in I try to pick one or two sharp girls to take attendance for me (hard to pronounce some names), I will confirm the missing kids out loud to make sure & allso do a head count against the roll call list..... If I can't figure out the lesson plan I will get the kids involved since they know where they are at in their books & lessons..... I also get ORDER & QUIET right away, if I have a couple of "roosters" making strange noise then I will approach them & deal with them right away.... Hope this helps... Bob


New Member
I Can Relate!

I wish I could offer you some great advice but I can't because I'm in the exact same position as you! Just finished student teaching (5th grade) in December, had a great experience and thought I was comfortable in a classroom, got my name on the subbing list for the spring, and now I'm terrified to actually start! I couldn't sleep either, knowing that the phone might ring at 5 in the morning. It's driving me crazy. I know this reply isn't very helpful, but I always feel better knowing that there are other people going through the same thing as me! If there's one thing that has made me feel a little less stressed-out it is gathering ideas/worksheets/activity sheets, etc. and putting them into an accordian file by grade level (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) so that at least I have SOMETHING to fall back on in case a teacher has left absolutely no plans for me (I've been having nightmares about that :). Good luck!


Take a deep breath....

My first sub job was a middle school, on top of that I had a push cart & went from class room to class room (I called myself the "Homeless Sub").... The kids were WILD & I was horse at the end of the day.... NEVER went back to that school so that elimenates that problem.... I have found that the surrounding teachers in the classrooms will be more than glad to help you out, even getting the class to quiet down for you & help with roll call..... I did an elementary class & an adjoining class teacher came in & pointed out a trouble maker student.... After a couple of infractions I sent him to the principle & was rid of the headace..... Don't be afraid to ask for HELP, most schools systems will be glad to help you out until you get your feet wet(and even after)..... Bob

mme NPB

Full Member
Me too!

I know how you are feeling! I am going to start subbing right away too, but because I was awaiting my certification, I have had time to prepare myself.This website is fantastic for hearing about others' experiences and for getting advice. I can recommend the book The Substitute Teacher handbook K-8(or K-12) by Geoffrey G. Smith as an excellent resource(I got it on Amazon).It is a well-researched guide which really covers almost everything you need to get ready.If you can gather together a "sub pack" or bag of tricks before you start, you will be prepared to teach or fill in time if the teacher doesn't provide enough to do. There are many sites which provide info. about subbing and will also provide a list of things to have with you. Just google "substitute teaching" and lots will come up. While these things may get you ready to a certain extent, the only real teacher will be just plain experience, as many of the posts here will tell you.Look in the sub archives on this site too as you are not the first to go through this. Good luck!


I'm new also

I do my first sub gig tomorrow. I did my student teaching in 2nd grade and tomorrow I sub for a 4th grade class. I went thru orientation at the district office a few days ago and there wasn't any orientation at all. I thought there might be some training. All the orientation consisted of filling out a stack of papers. At the end of my orientation, the sub coordinator gave me a sticky with my first teaching assignment. She didn't even ask if I was available. I laughed but accepted the assignment. I was a little miffed at her forwardness but realized that I probably needed the prodding. The district that I was hired at has a website for job postings. I signed on this AM and scarfed up all the 2nd grade teaching gigs. At least I would feel comfortable teaching at this level.

When I was doing my student teaching, I saw the same subs everyday. I think that I might sub at the same schools regularly to get my face noticed. It can't hurt.

The sub coordinator also suggested getting business cards made up with your sub id # on them. If the teacher that you sub for likes you, they often can request you by name.

Finally, my sub jobs are pretty much every other day. Since, I'm not working I might stop in the class where I'm subbing to introduce myself to the teacher the day before. It's all about networking.


Glendale AZ


New Member
Thanks for the help...

Bob, KauaiMark & mme NPB - thanks for the insight!

allimc22 - good luck to you too. You'll do great - it sounds like you are pretty well prepared!

Ron - I hope your day went well today! I really like the business card idea, I hadn't heard of that before.

Reading all the posts have helped to ease my nerves, and it is always nice to hear that there are others in the same boat...

I'm sure it will be fine after I go through the experience a few times - I will at least get the hang of how things work. But... waking up at 5 and just waiting for that first time is killing me. I wake up every 1/2 hour or so starting at 3ish and check my phone - even though they don't call that early. I think I may have myself a little too freaked out about the whole thing haha. Luckily, I talked to my cooperating teacher yesterday and she is going to ask for me next Tuesday - now that would be a GREAT first experience - kids, a classroom and staff that I already know! :o

One thing I'm still worried about is the younger kids - I've never been in an elementary class for a whole day (I'm MCE 5-9) and I'm worried about all the tasks these classes accomplish in one day.... are there similarities in the schedules for this age group? How much time during the day do you have to recoup (specials, lunch, recesses, etc)?

Also - the activities/lessons that you take with you... are they subject specific or are they the time filler activities?

Thanks again!


First day of subing

NewSub: I too have just completed my degree in Elementary Education this past December. My first day of being in somebody elses classroom with a students I had no clue who they were was a little uncomfortable. What I did on my first day as a sub was I looked back on my internship and used the ideas that my On-Site Teacher Educator taught me. It worked great. The regular teacher had a list of activities for the students to do, but I had to use my exprience to teach the activities. In the end it all worked out just fine. As for being prepared for the first day. I would have a few of your favorite books, some color sheets, a book of poems, (I like Miles of Smiles) and what ever else you might think you will need. Make sure that you have a pencil and a pen. It can be hard to find one on the teacher's desk. Last but the most important thing that you can do to help you on the first day is to, ASK another teacher and the office on how you are to take attendance and the lunch count. So far, every teacher that I have subed for does attendance different than the next.
One more thing. ENJOY YOURSELF, if you show any sign of frustration, the students pick-up on this and they will make your day a living you know what.