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How to Be a Great Substitute Teacher

Do you want to be the "go to" substitute teacher that every teacher calls first to replace them when they are absent? Often students will try to misbehave while their regular teacher is absent and will test the waters to see how much mischief they can get away with. When a teacher is absent, there is nothing more comforting than being able to trust that the classroom is running smoothly in his or her absence.

Here are some useful tips on how to be a great substitute teacher :

  1. Walk in to the classroom with confidence and take charge immediately. First impressions are very important, and children can sense when you are nervous or unsure of yourself. 
  2. State your expectations for their behavior. Research shows that student performance is affected by the expectations of their teacher (Teachers' Expectations Can Influence How Students Perform). Make sure that students are aware that you set the bar high for both their behavior and academics.
  3. Stick to the lesson plans left for you by the regular classroom teacher. Nothing is more frustrating than for a teacher to return the next day only to find out that the students didn't accomplish the list of tasks left for them to do. Unfinished assignments may cause the teacher to lose valuable teaching time trying to play catch-up the next day.
  4. Keep an eye on the clock. Make sure that students are at lunch and special classes such as art and music on time. Being on schedule will keep the regular teacher from hearing complaints from the special class teachers regarding your tardiness.
  5. Write down notes to the teacher describing how the day went. Make notes of any misbehavior or problems that you have so that they can be addressed the next day. 
  6. Leave the classroom neat and orderly. Organize the students' work and put it in neat stacks. For bonus points with the teacher, put all of the papers in alphabetical order to make the recording of grades easier. Straighten up the classroom. This will leave the returning teacher with the overall impression that you had everything under control.

Do you go the extra mile when substituting? If so, please comment below and share your own personal ways of making yourself a valuable asset to classroom teachers.


photo credit: cybrarian77 - cc

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