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Be a Better Substitute Teacher with 4 Key Relationships

Photo © by USFWS Mountain Prairie

For even the best educator, the job of substitute teacher can be a challenge, especially when new to a building.  By fostering some important relationships, a sub can not only build support, but increase the chance of future jobs in that school.

The building principal sets the tone for the school.  Some are office-dwellers who like to deal with the administrative side of things without interruptions.  Others like to be in the nitty-gritty and apprised of any situation.  Introduce yourself and try to get a feel for the principal's style. This will help you to know when to handle a situation yourself, and when to ask for assistance.

The first person you see upon entering the school may be your most powerful ally.  The front office personnel know everything about the school, from how lunch periods run to which students may give you a hard time.  Befriend the administrative assistants in the office and they are usually more than willing to answer even the silliest questions, or give you a few tips to make your day run a little smoother.

Custodians are probably the least appreciated staff member in the schools, yet their services are invaluable.  Sometimes it seems like their job consists of mopping up puddles.  Puddles of water, milk, and other things we'd rather not talk about.  But these workers know as much as the front office staff about what goes on in the school, and they are a big help to have on your side.  Need to get in a locked room?  Is your room boiling hot?  Did Johnny just lose his lunch next to the wastebasket instead of in it?  Yes, the custodian is a good friend to have.

Lastly, introduce yourself to a neighboring teacher.  Many current teachers started out as substitutes, and they know sometimes it's easiest to pop your head in next door and ask a quick question.  This is the person who will know best how the particular teacher you're subbing for likes runs things, and will be able to answer classroom-specific questions.  Not only will you get the answers you need, but you may make a friend who will ask for you the next time a sub is needed.

Substitute teachers never know what they're going to face when they walk into the classroom each morning.  Half of the battle is just getting called in.  Help yourself by using tools to get the job, and then develop relationships with key people such as the principal, office staff, custodian, and neighboring teachers to establish a support system. What other relationships should a substitute teach foster to further his/her career?

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