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Tips from the Pros: How to be a Great Substitute Teacher

Substitute teaching is a great opportunity. It allows you to step inside a classroom and teach our future, but on a flexible schedule. While you may hear horror stories about substitute teaching, it really isn’t that bad if you know what you are doing. Check out the tips that follow and learn how to be a great substitute teacher who gets called back day after day!

The Beginning of the Day...

  • Get to school early, before the day starts and check in at the office. You don't want to be scrambling to check in and find the classroom, plus you need time to review the day's plan.
  • Find the classroom where you will be substituting.
  • Look over the information left for you by the classroom teacher. If you there is missing information, ask another teacher or the school’s secretary. If there are no sub plans to be found, you'll have to rely on your emergency substitute lesson plans (you have those, right?).
  • Find any materials that you will need for the day’s lessons.
  • Have the first lesson of the day ready to go before the students arrive.
  • Find the alarms and emergency exits.
As the Day Progresses...
  • Learn the student’s names as quickly as you can. It can be helpful to learn a couple names immediately. Try greeting the students at the door.
  • Create a seating chart if there isn’t one available.
  • Follow the plans left by the teacher. If you have any fun ideas, wait until the assigned work is complete.
  • Only allow one student to leave the class at any given time.
  • Take notes if there is anything that you want to share with the classroom teacher.
Before Leaving...
  • Complete any reporting forms or write the teacher a note. Let him or her know how your day was and if anyone was absent.
  • Leave the room just like you found it. This is a professional courtesy and it goes a long way.
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