Tips for Substitute Teachers

Career Tools

1. The Early Bird Catches the Worm. Arrive to the assigned school ahead of the scheduled start time. Try to be at the school at least 45 minutes early. If the substitute teacher is working in a city or urban setting; take parking issues into consideration and use mass transit if possible. You don’t want to be late because you could not find a parking spot.

Arriving to the school early will allow substitute teachers to meet with school administrators and staff. The substitute will be able to become familiar with the classroom and any lesson plans the teacher may have left in their absence. It is also a good idea to locate the restrooms and teacher lounge during this time.


2. Be in Control of the Classroom. Exceptional classroom management skills are very necessary tools to acquire in order to be successful in this position. Substitute teachers may come in contact with students who may challenge their authority. Presenting yourself in a confident, firm, but friendly manner should deter many unwelcomed situations.

Greet the students as they arrive. Introduce yourself and provide the students with any pertinent information, such as schedule changes or examinations. Reviewing the classroom rules with the class will let the students know you are clear on what is considered acceptable behavior in the classroom. Express those expectations remain the same, even in the regular teacher’s absence. Be sure to leave a note giving the teacher a overview of your day. Highlight students who performed exceptionally well and identify students who were disruptive.


3. Books, Books, Books. Substitute teachers should maintain an up to date library of children books readily available. Children love story time. If you find yourself in need of filler activities, a read-aloud is the way to go. To save money check libraries, yard sales, or flea markets to find an array of books to match the grade level you teach. A few student favorites are Miss Nelson is Missing by James Marshall and Harry Allard, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Tiki Tiki Tempo by Arlene Mosel. After a read-aloud, the substitute teacher can have students write or draw a response to the story.


4. Be respectful o the teacher's desk and classroom. Make sure to put any items borrowed throughout the day back in their place. Take care that students are not abusing the classroom supplies. Clear up any trash from the teacher's desk and have students straighten up the classroom.

Remember take subbing day by day. You will have some good day and a few challenging days, but ensuring that the children who will shape the future don’t miss a day of learning (even in their teacher’s absence) is a rewarding job. Prepare ahead of time as much as possible and begin compiling a stock hold of lessons that prove to engage and interest the students. Those lessons can be used at different schools and different classroom, as the assignments will vary in location.

Comments 5 comments

cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

Great tips! When I substitute taught, I also found it helpful to keep a bag of "goodies" meaning fun activities for the kids to do as an incentive if they completed their work or were well behaved. Things like coloring sheets or activity pages. I also tried to "enlist" the student that I felt was the "leader" in the class to be my helper for the day. Often this helped the rest of the class stay in order.


Jessica 5 years ago

Thanks for referencing the Substitute Teacher Handbook as well as for the great tips.


KristenGrace profile image

KristenGrace 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

I like how you made note that some days will be good and some challenging. True for ANY teacher!

Great tips.


suzetteboston profile image

suzetteboston 5 years ago

Great article, I applaud anyone who works with children, I simply don't have the patience. Great tips though and wonderful information. Thanks.


S.D. Stephenson profile image

S.D. Stephenson 5 years ago from Brooklyn New York Author

Thank You!!!It's a challenging position but its rewarding at times.

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