The secret to being a better teacher while you're substituting lies in learning how to engage your students. As a substitute, you have an advantage because during the course of a month, you could be in many different classrooms, and never visit one twice. So, once you try a few engagement techniques, and you find one that works particularly well for you, you can use it over and over again. Here are a few engagement techniques you can use with your students that will help you to be a more effective teacher.
You'll tap into a different part of your students' brains if you ask questions about what they're learning in the classroom. This can be modified, based on the age of the students. For example, if the class is younger, and they're trying to master a new math concept, you can ask them to talk about how math will help them when they get older. Where will they use it? How do they see their parents use it? What types of jobs use math? For older students learning new math concepts, get them talking about what makes the new concepts different from what they've learned in the past. How does this math build upon the concepts they've already mastered? Asking questions gets the kids thinking in a different way about what they're working on, and it demonstrates to them that you're really interested in what they have to say.
Make It Fun
While every lesson can't be fun, there's no harm in mixing in a little fun once in a while. For example, you could play a game of history trivia with the students, testing their knowledge for an upcoming test. If you have time during the day with a younger class, host a spelling bee. Try and be creative with how you approach your classroom to create an atmosphere that makes the students want to participate.
Move Around The Room
One of the biggest mistakes substitute teachers make is to teach from the front of the class. It might be because they're not familiar with the material and want to stay close to their notes, but teaching this way is sure to get students feeling bored pretty quickly. Instead of staying put, teach from various parts of the room. As you move, ask questions about the material of the students who are close to you. Look them in the eye, nod your head when they get it right, and smile. Your body language makes a big difference in how they react to you, and if you refrain from standing in the front, you'll catch their attention quickly.
What other techniques have you come up with that help you to engage your students? If you haven't found one that suits you yet, try one of these. You'll be amazed at the results.