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Tips For Being A Successful Substitute School Teacher

Updated on February 22, 2012
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In the world of education, more than likely you will be a substitute teacher before obtaining a full time position. For those of you who went straight from college to a full time position, my hats off to you. But for the rest of us, subbing is the way we started. Believe it or not, there are some perks to being a substitute. First off, you don’t need to write lesson plans. You don’t work every day, and you get to see a new group of kids each day. Here are some tips on how to be a successful substitute teacher that will hopefully land you your own classroom.

Know Major Things About The School Before You Start

Knowing all of the students in the school would be a daunting task, so that is not something I would consider major. Knowing the curriculum the school uses is something I would call major. Knowing that will give you a jump start on what to expect your first day in. It may also help you move through the subject faster and get everything done in a timely manner for that teacher. Knowing the discipline system for that school would also be a plus. Ask the principal or someone who works in the school what they do about discipline problems. What is their main form of classroom management? Do the students get stickers? Do they pull tickets? Knowing this before you go into a school will help you flawlessly discipline a student, and will set an example for the rest of the students that you know what you are doing.

Help Out As Much As Possible

If there are copies you can make, mail you can deliver, or papers you can grade; do it! Hen you take the initiative and show that you are a good helper and a motivated individual willing to help everyone out, people will notice that! They will see that you are putting forth all of your effort and are willing to be a team player. Trust me, if the faculty see’s this, it will get back to the administration.

Follow Lesson Plans Exactly

Teachers don’t enjoy writing lesson plans for you to come and do things the way you want them to be done. They write lesson plans for them to be followed pretty much to the “t.” Obviously, there are going to be times where you need to deviate slightly from the plans to accommodate a student or multiple students, or because there is an assembly or delay. For the most part though, you should be able to follow the plans exactly.

Be Sure To Write Everything Down

Make sure that you write down everything that you did during the day. If you didn’t get to page 44 in math like you were supposed to, write it down. If anyone was absent, write it down. If you had discipline issues, write it down. The more you write down, the more help you will be to the teacher. It’s hard to rely on the students to remember what they did the previous day for some reason! Plus, the teacher shouldn’t have to rely on the students when there was an adult in charge. Most teachers are flexible and understanding if you don’t finish everything, as long as you followed their plans and did your best.

Make Friends With Other Teachers & The Secretary

In any type of a job interview that you go to, there are always people telling you to be nice to the secretary. This is very true with the education system as well. More than likely, the secretary relates directly with the principal and other administrators, and will be able to tell them if you’re kind and genuine or if you are bad news. Making friends with other teachers is a no-brainer. If you want to show them that you would be a good addition to the faculty, and someone they would want around, you need to be nice, helpful, and truly love what you do. Ask them for help if you don’t understand something. It will show them that you aren’t afraid to ask for help, and that you are working hard to get things right. Again, trust me on the fact that if you’re helpful and kind, the word will get back to administrators.

Offer To Help Students During Free Time

Make sure you offer to help students during your free time, or theirs. Offer to tutor a student during recess or before or after school. By putting in that extra effort, you will show that you care about the students and not yourself by devoting your free time to them. If a student stops you and asks for help, as long as you’re not busy, help them!

Don’t Be On Time; Be Early. Leave When You’re Supposed To

This pretty much goes for any job that you may have. By showing up early, you portray yourself as an on-time, responsible individual. You show that you genuinely take an interest in what you’re doing and care about your job. At the end of the day, make sure you are leaving when you’re supposed to leave. If your day is finished at 3:30, don’t leave at 3:25. Wait until it’s time to leave to walk down, drop any paperwork you have off, and then leave. You are showing that you aren’t quick to get out of there, like you can’t stand the place! If you need to stay a few extra minutes to help out, do it. It will make a good reputation for you by doing this.

Basically, this hub just reiterates what you should already know about becoming a successful substitute teacher. The more you do to help others, especially the students, the better off you will be in the long run. Put others before you, lend a helping hand, and always wear a smile! Soon enough, a permanent position will come your way, and you will have your own classroom.


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    • KStro18 profile image

      KStro18 6 years ago from PA

      It's definitely a rewarding thing to do. You are able to touch many kids' lives, and provide them with an education at the same time! Good luck!

    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 6 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Some great suggestions on successful subbing! I haven't subbed in a while, but I am thinking about getting back into it.