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Reflections on How to be a Great Substitute Teacher

From time to time during a teacher's career, instead of holding a full-time position, one might find themselves needing a more flexible teaching status.  Substitute teaching can be a great opportunity to stay involved in the field of education, without the commitment required of a full-time teacher.  However, substitute teaching can bring its own set of stresses.  Here are a few thoughts on how to be a great substitute teacher.

  • First, be well rested.  As a teacher, nothing sets you up for a good day like having a good night of sleep the night before.  Whether you are a substitute teacher or hold a full-time position, rest is no longer an option.  It is an absolute necessity.  So turn off the television, stay off of Pinterest, put down that book you are so eager to read one more chapter of, and GO TO SLEEP!
  • Arrive with beverage of choice, preferably caffeinated, and sip throughout the day.  As teachers, sometimes we forget that we do a LOT of talking.  Keep those vocal cords moist and in good working order by staying well-hydrated all day long. 
  • Come prepared for the weather.  Now, by this, I don't only mean that you should carry an umbrella.  I mean, remember that rainy days affect your student's moods too.  Be prepared to combat their grumps by planning some unusual fun activities.  Can math be taught outside on a covered walkway using sidewalk chalk?  Can reading groups crawl under their desks to read with flashlights?  This, of course, would require that you bring sidewalk chalk and flashlights.  Plan ahead.  Come prepared.  
  • And finally, breathe.  Substitute teaching can be a breeze or a challenge.  More often than not, it is a challenge.  Whether you are substituting for one day in one school, or many days in the same classroom, keep in mind that you WILL get through it.  And the students will learn.  Maybe not what you were trying to teach, but they will learn.  

So get your get your rest, stay hydrated, be prepared, and relax.  Substitute or not, you are a teacher, and that makes you great!  What causes you the most stress when substitute teaching?  What helps to alleviate that stress?  We would love to hear about your experiences!

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photo credit: /ponder - (license)

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