Whether you're a substitute for a day or you've taught for years, one key to teaching a lesson more effectively is student engagement. As much as teachers don't want to grade worksheets, students don't want to do them. So, how can substitutes engage their students and make their lessons more effective?
1. Form teams or groups to facilitate learning
It is extremely difficult to get every student engaged by asking questions: the students who don't want to answer questions will rely on the students who always answer them. With group work, every person can let their voice be heard, and every student is engaged in the time period it would take to ask one question!
Group work doesn't have to be complicated, either! Instead of asking a question for one person to answer, turn it into a group "activity." Where you would normally ask a question, turn it to the students: "Class, please find a partner and discuss what began the Revolutionary War." Of course, group work could be extended to other projects, but a simple question-answer period will help bring students back to the lesson, focused up and ready to go.
2. Have students be involved in creating the lesson
This one may not be for the faint of heart! Students can help create lessons by providing feedback about what they would like to learn in a specific subject. If your teacher has left some open spaces or you feel like you don't have enough material to cover the time, give students a quick survey - anything as simple as writing the question on the board - asking them what it is they want to learn about the given subject. This can help you understand what interests the students most as well as creating engaging lessons geared towards the students.
There are several ways to help students be engaged and excited for class, even with a substitute teacher. As you do your best to keep students engaged, they will learn skills such as collaboration, focus, and preparation, and you will help set up a successful class for the teacher to return to!