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The Long-Term Sub Dilemma: Your Classroom or the Permanent Teacher's Classroom?

2012-145 My Messy Room

Whether the teacher specifically requested you for the position or you simply found a long-term substitute teaching position thrust upon you, working as a long-term sub is a lot different from simply working in a classroom for a day or even for a few days. It requires a much larger level of commitment, preparation, and work on your part. If you have recently been asked to work as a long-term sub, here are some long-term substitute teacher tips to help things go smoothly.

Treat the Classroom as Your Own…

Create lesson plans as though this is your classroom. Establish rules and follow through the same way you would if this were your classroom. As a long-term substitute teacher, you will have more say in discipline issues as well as rewards for the students than you would have if you were only working with them for a short time. You may have to conduct parent-teacher conferences or meet with the parents of students who are struggling.

It is important to get to know the students individually. Quickly memorize all of the students' names. The permanent teacher, the principal, or other staff members should inform you about things such as student allergies, students who receive special services, and other issues that may influence the classroom structure. Be sure to ask questions if you are confused.

…But Not Too Much of your Own

While it can be easy to get caught-up in the excitement of having your own classroom, it is important to remember that while you will be there for an extended period, you are not the permanent teacher. This is especially important if you were hired to cover for a teacher who will return later in the school year. For example, a teacher on maternity leave or one that had to undergo major surgery may return later in the year. 

It is important to follow the teacher's routine as closely as logically possible and to respect any of the permanent teacher's requests. For example, maybe an English teacher wants the students to make it through three specific books before she returns, or perhaps the math teacher wants the students to cover specific terms before he returns. If there are any specific requests from the teacher, do your best to respect those requests.

The teacher may request you call or email regularly to keep the permanent teacher informed on how things are going in the classroom. He or she may be able to offer advice on how to handle specific classroom situations.

If you have previously worked as a long-term substitute teacher, what did you find worked well? What would you do differently if you were to get another opportunity to work as a long-term sub?

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