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Welcome aboard! Advice for a new substitute teacher

New substitute teacherIf you are a new substitute teacher, welcome to an exciting and rewarding profession! A new school year is beginning soon and the thought of having to enter an unfamiliar school for the first time may cause some unnecessary anxiety. Here are some tips that will make walking through the doors of a new school a little easier.


Every building will have procedures for where teachers should park. Unless you are a long-term substitute, it is unlikely that you will receive a parking pass from the school. Don't worry - park wherever you see the most cars. This will assure that you are not violating any no parking zones. If you are substitute teaching in a high school, there may be a lot reserved for students. Be mindful to avoid this area because often spots are designated for specific student parking permits. Don't let your day of teaching get ruined by learning that your car has been ticketed or towed!


Upon arriving at a school there will likely be a secretary or attendance officer responsible for greeting substitutes. This person will either assign you a key for your classroom or provide you with instructions on how to access areas of the building. If you find yourself locked out during the day, simply ask for assistance from another building teacher. In most schools teachers are provided with a key that unlocks multiple doors allowing easy access to classrooms in their hallway or department.


A crucial role of a substitute teacher is keeping accurate attendance. This will allow the primary classroom teacher to return and make a seamless transition after your substitute assignment has concluded. Most teachers will leave the substitute a detailed letter indicating procedures for taking attendance. This may include recording on printed spreadsheets, by asking students to sign in on a list that is distributed around the class, or by using the school electronic student management system on a computer.


As a substitute teacher, you are required to have time to take a lunch break. As a general rule, avoid leaving the campus to eat unless you are sure this is the practiced norm by other faculty members. All schools will have a designated faculty dining room or private cafeteria. Look for these on the school map that is included with your substitute folder. Avoid eating alone in the classroom. Lunch is a good opportunity to speak with other faculty members, learn about the culture of the school, and network with other professionals.


It’s good practice for a substitute to stay and assist with bus duty. Even if you are not assigned a specific area, an extra body and set of eyes is always appreciated. Before exiting, leave a detailed note for the primary teacher. She will appreciate this! Make sure you have returned all materials, keys, etc. before leaving. 

If you are new to substitute teaching, you will soon learn that one of its greatest challenges and rewards will be in your capacity to adjust and adapt to every-changing conditions. Preparing yourself for the above concerns will make it easier to focus on what’s important - students and their learning. For more helpful tips, feel free to contact us. Welcome to substitute teaching!


photo credit: US Department of Education via photopin cc

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