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Classroom Discipline Tips for Substitute Teachers

Dunce © by Candie_N

Whether you're a new or experienced substitute teacher, classroom discipline is almost always one of a sub's top concerns. No two classes are the same, and handling the individual needs of a class while balancing the needs of their regular teacher can be very tricky.

While truly developing top-notch disciplining skills takes time and practice, not using them even at the beginning is bound to lead to trouble and chaos in the classroom. To help prepare for a day of subbing, here are some tips on how to properly handle a classroom:

  • Try to approach each class with a positive and assertive attitude; approaching a classroom looking confidant and cheery will always yield more positive results from a classroom. Remember, students are used to having a specific teacher, and a change in routine can cause anxiety and stress. A good substitute teacher is aware of this and takes it into consideration when evaluating the mood in a classroom.
  • Develop a discipline plan in advance by planning how you will introduce yourself and then handle any disruptions that may arise during the day; students will realize very quickly what they can get away with. Knowing what your own limits and expectations are will help you set boundaries more effectively and avoid unnecessary trouble.
  • As soon as class begins, set out your rules and expectations so that students know what is expected of them and how you will react if they don't obey your rules.
  • If you have a disruption, deal with it immediately and swiftly while minimizing the interruption of the class. Remember, you are the adult; never yell, scream or act unprofessional around your students.
  • Always act fairly when disciplining a student. Students are not only good at figuring out what they can get away with - they have very strong feelings about what is fair and what isn't. Never play favorites. Be sure to act fairly to all of your students, every time; this will help maintain the respect you deserve from a classroom.
  • If you suspect students aren't paying attention, ask them questions about the subject, rather than calling them out on their poor behavior; this minimizes the interruption of classwork and helps keep every student on track.
  • Avoid sarcastic remarks. Sarcasm may actually hurt your teacher-student relationships, as they are disrespectful and totally out of context in a classroom.
  • Always over-prepare and have plenty of activities and mini-lessons for students. Do not allow students time just to talk to each other during the day, as this increases the chance of students being disruptive.
  • Start each day fresh; start teaching each day with the expectation that all students will behave. Additionally, be forgiving and forgetful of what happened yesterday if any students acted up. Each day is a new day where everyone has the opportunity to perform adequately within the classroom.

Use these tips to begin developing your discipline skills as you incorporate them into your teaching style, and you will definitely succeed and grow as a substitute teacher. Maybe we missed a few tips, though! What are some discipline styles or tips that you or a fellow teacher have found to be effective in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook!

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