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Essential Tips for New Substitute Teachers

Substitute teachers are essential to the school system. When the regular teacher is out sick or on leave, who saves the day? The substitute. Substitute teachers are invaluable for keeping the class learning and on track while the teacher is out, and without subs things would be very difficult for everyone involved.

Being a sub is not always easy, however. Substitute teachers often receive less respect than regular teachers, and students are constantly trying to "pull one over" on them because they aren't always familiar with the day-to-day operations of the class. Here are some tips for subs on how to maintain order and execute your job faithfully:

Come prepared. Sometimes you'll run out of work for the students to do; either the teacher didn't leave very much or the students finished it faster than expected. Either way, if you bring grade-appropriate activities with you you'll be able to keep things moving and keep the class working. Playing review games, having students do homework in class (individually, in groups, or as a class), and moving on to the next module (if you're familiar with the material) are also good practices.

Trust selectively. Often, when a student says something to the effect of "the teacher always lets us" that is something that the teacher specifically does not let the students do. It takes time and experience to learn which students are trustworthy and which aren't. The more focused and academically successful students are usually more honest than the rest of the class.

Be professional. This helps your image more with the other teachers and administrators than the students, but the more composed, punctual, and proper you are, the more everyone involved will trust you. If you come across as reliable, you will get more and better jobs, and the jobs you get will go more smoothly.

Substitute teaching is one of the best ways to do good (and get paid for it), and although it can be hard, it's like any skill: practice makes perfect.

What tips would you give other substitute teachers?

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