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Sub Tips: Set Clear Expectations for a Self-Managing Classroom

Inside My Classroom © by knittymarie

Classroom management can be an overwhelming job for a new substitute teacher. You thought you were getting into teaching for the enlightening of young minds and the passion you had for education, only to find that teaching is half the battle, and it takes a backseat if the classroom is not in order. When instructional time is limited, you need tactics and the skills to manage your classroom quickly and efficiently. What can be more efficient than a classroom that manages itself?

We've mentioned different strategies for classroom management before, including having students earn tickets for participation. Jessica Smith, a substitute teacher trainer with, describes a time when she used tickets in her classroom,

In the middle of giving instructions for the next activity, a student yelled out something completely inappropriate. I stood at the front of the classroom in shock, I tried to think of how to handle the situation but my mind was blank. I then heard the other students turn to the student and they said, "You owe her all of your tickets, come on pay up, dude. That's not cool to do in our class."
That's right, another student chastised the offending student and reminded her of the expectation the teacher had set for the classroom. Of course, this level of self-managing isn't always attainable, but you can foster it in other ways. By clearly setting expectations, you can hold students accountable to understand the expectations and ask them to explain an expectation to the class when the offending behavior occurs. Jessica provides an example,
Teacher: "I see you have your cell phone out, what is the expectation when it comes to cell phones?"

Most likely you are going to get a sarcastic response, but this won't throw you off. You turn to another student and ask the same question.

Teacher: "What is the expectation when it comes to cell phones?"

Since the students see you are serious and won't be drawn off task, they will answer the question appropriately. Then when you see a student put her cell phones away, you will reinforce her appropriate behavior.

Classroom management doesn't have to be a daunting tasks. Learn about more tips for classroom management and try some in your classroom. Once you find a strategy that works for you, you'll find yourself with better behavior from students and more time for instruction! For more tips on being a great sub, sign up for the SubSuggestions Newsletter from, then sign up for SubAssistant to get notifications of jobs, anytime, anywhere.

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