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Classroom Discipline: Tips for Subs

Classroom management can be challenging when substitute teaching. You will most definitely learn some tips and tricks as you sub more often! For now, we know you will find these classroom discipline ideas to be very helpful in your subbing experience! 


To get respect, you must show respect. Do not go into the classroom like you are the "almighty and powerful". Show respect to your students. Speak kindly. Remember that these children you are in charge of are someone's most prized possessions. If your own child was in the class, how would you want your child to be treated? Someone is always watching. If you are not kind to your students, you may not be asked to come back. 


For most sub jobs, you are only there for a short amount of time, but do what you can to build a relationship. Smile. Learn their names. Play a team building game. Learn their interests and use that to your advantage! Kids can tell how you feel about them. If they know you care, they are more likely to work and behave for you. 

Positive Reinforcement

Don't just focus on the students who are causing issues (and there will be some). Praise, recognize, and even reward those students who are doing a great job for you! For little ones, this might just be pointing out who is doing a nice job for you or giving them a little something like a sticker. For older kids, maybe you could ask your colleagues or principal what you would be allowed to do. Can you give them some time to socialize or listen to music? Make a deal with them. If you work hard for me today and complete your work, you can __________. 


Consequences can be tricky. You are just there temporarily. It is important to check with the other teachers on the team or the principal to see what the plan is for discipline issues. For younger kids, can you give them a time-out in another classroom or have them sit out some of their recess time? For older kids, what is the protocol? You absolutely should not tolerate extreme misbehavior, but you need to be careful you are following school policy when giving a consequence. 


Lighten up! Smile. Crack a joke! Some substitutes are so serious all the time. There is a time to be serious and professional. But, there are also times to relax and have fun! Show that you are human. Laugh if something funny happens. The kids will remember you as a sub who can get the job done, but can also have a little fun along the way! 

What was your favorite tip today? What management and discipline tricks have you found to be helpful as a sub? We'd love to hear from you! 


photo credit: US Department of Education - cc

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