You've gotten at least a few sub jobs by now. You're starting to get the hang of how things work. You're becoming familiar with the policies and routines of your local schools. Maybe you've even been asked to do a long-term subbing assignment for a teacher out on leave. Now, take a moment to reflect on the quality of your teaching. Is it the best it can possibly be? Or are there a few things that are still in the realm of mystery to you? For example, how do good teachers get their students to listen to them for the whole class period anyway? Here are a few tips to help you teach your lessons more effectively.
First, it's all about classroom management. Well, OK, it's not all about classroom management, but if you are missing this key ingredient, your lessons will fall flat. If you find yourself spending a lot of time putting out fires rather than teaching, try walking around the classroom while you are teaching. Sometimes making eye contact or standing near a student that is off-task is all you need to do to redirect their behavior. When you have free time-- at lunch for instance-- ask other teachers for their best tips on managing their classes. Different teachers have different styles, but many are effective. Find one that is a match for you and your school.
Once you have the students on task, teaching is much easier. Begin each lesson with a hook to get their attention. This could be a funny story related to the lesson, an interesting (to them, not you) tidbit of information, or perhaps a physical object that you could pass around the class for them to touch. You know you are on the right track when the students seem excited. Foster that excitement throughout the lesson by allowing them to interact. Encourage class discussion, but also use techniques like "think, pair, share", in which students have a moment to think about the question, a few moments to talk with a partner about their answers, and then time to share their conclusions in a whole-class discussion.
When teaching a new skill, be sure to show the students how to do it, not just tell them. (In teacher lingo, this is called "modeling".) One way to help students master a new skill is to model it for them, have the whole class do it together once, have two students do it together once, and then turn the students loose to complete the task on their own. This technique, commonly used in many classrooms, reinforces the learning and increases chances of mastery.
These few tips should help improve your lessons. However, when in doubt, think back to when you were in school. What kind of lessons really engaged you? What lessons made you snore? Who were your best teachers, and why? When we reflect on questions like this, the answers can make us much better teachers, even if we are not in the same classroom with the same kids every day. So, what kind of teacher do you want to be?