10 Vital Tips from a Substitute Teacher
The top 10 things I’ve learned from being a substitute teacher.
10. You can always be more organized.
9. You can never be too detailed in your sub plans. Don’t assume subs know anything. Seating charts, bathroom breaks, teachers they can ask for help, students who know what’s going on, switching classes, phone and computer use, school rules, are just examples of things substitutes would love to know.
8. Having things in your room clearly labeled and all in their place makes life easier for the teacher, the students, and the substitute.
7. School secretaries are your best friends.
6. Substitutes should leave notes of the students’ behavior for the teacher: good or bad. I like to write something for each period and mention specific names if needed. Duh, teachers love feedback.
5. Posting common class procedures is a great first week of school idea but is also a lifesaver for the substitute who is clueless as to how you work.
4. Being flexible and creative is a vital characteristic for teaching. As a substitute, you have to make something out of nothing. You have to stretch things out to last longer, manipulate it to fit your personality, and yet it still all has to make sense to the kids.
3. Breaking the ice with students makes your life easier. If you ask students about activities going on at school, sports, what they’re wearing, what’s for lunch, or anything other than class the students immediately are more interested in what you have to say. In the school I’m subbing at, I generally know a lot of the student’s parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. Letting them know that sometimes makes them easier to handle.
2. School and students are unpredictable. You have to make split-second decisions constantly and not lose it when your plans get messed up. Go with the flow, be flexible, and make things work. Maintain order even if it’s not your order.
And the number one thing..
1. Never sub for Kindergarten teachers the day before Valentine’s Day! Their job is no joke. The academic material is not challenging. That’s because if teachers had to deal with challenging academics and challenging behavior, they would die. Die. Combine this with a ton of candy, rub-on tattoos, cakes, cookies, Valentine’s Day cards, toys, balloons, flowers, and tons of cellophane and you have a recipe for heart-shaped disaster!!!