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Tips on How to Survive Being Loved and Hated as a Substitute Teacher

Updated on September 16, 2017

It is not surviving the apocalypse but it can be close. 5 quick and easy tips on making it to that glorious end of the week is what this article will provide; because the harsh truth is that kids sometimes treat substitutes horrible.

So, we aim to hit hard and fast with meaningful advice that will provide lasting physical and mental results to get you to 3:00 pm Friday afternoon with sound mind.

The inner Substitute in us all Mr. Garvey
The inner Substitute in us all Mr. Garvey | Source

During one second week of school this lone writer, picked up a vacancy kindergarten teacher assignment. By Wed, 4 out of 20 students displayed full-blown common cold symptoms; running noses, sneezing, and coughing.

By that Friday, the left side of my nostril no longer wanted to work, which brings us to the first tip:

1. It kills 99.9% of germs

Alcohol hand sanitizer, is a substitute teacher's most needed item. Especially during the beginning of the school year. However, despite being able to zap most infectious bacteria and fungi and some viruses within seconds of applying, it does not beat out a vigorous scrub with soap and water, which leads up to our first tip which is;

Being diligent about washing your hands will save you from a weekend stuck in bed. When working in a new school or school(s) in some cases, you will be exposed to bacterial illness, virus laden desks and writing utensils.

If you are unable to get to a sink and soap, your handy-dandy hand sanitizer should be within reaching distance.

2. Treats and Rewards

This get the students to discipline themselves and typically works best with younger grades (K-5), but if the reward is tweaked it too can work for middle and high school students.

First, divide the class up into small groups, if they are not already, and share with them that the best behaved group or table will get a coveted reward. The prize must be something they want and you can provide without too much hassle like the radio, free-time at the end, an edible treat for example. Then, sit back and watch as they police one another's behavior, getting the heat off you.

3. Get to know your allies

The staff teachers, secretary, teacher aides, and paraprofessionals are you to-go-to's, for help. I can recall an assignment that had me with 21 kindergartners in one class and no aide. When it became unmanageable with several behavioral issue, I call down for back up and soon I had it.

Asking for help when you are overwhelmed will keep you from having a mental break down before Friday.

4. Be prepared

This is the most sited advice for all subs, but that is because it can change a stressful classroom into a manageable one.

I wish I could say staff teachers will always have detailed lesson plans and substitute folders ready for guest teachers however, I can't, because there can be times when there simply is no employed teacher.

Some districts, like the one I am currently working, are having difficulties filling positions, especially during the beginning of the school year. So, sometimes it is your fellow grade teachers, principles, or yourself coming up with lesson plans.

Usually such instances are not known prior to accepting the assignment. So being prepared for such assignments will keep away the grey hairs.

5. Eat a proper breakfast and bring a balanced lunch

A full day of substitute teaching last seven to eight hours with half an hour for lunch. Physical strain is not something you will need to worry about, but taxing the brain with hunger and thirst will make any job three times more strenuous.

If you follow the advice in this article, you too can end you week with a bang and not a soft whimper.

Being diligent about washing your hands will save you from a weekend stuck in bed.

I currently work as a substitute teacher for 5 different school districts in the state of Michigan. While I've guest taught for almost all grades, I am partial to kindergarten.

© 2017 QueyJacqueal


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    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for sharing your experience and your suggestions for substitute teachers. Thanks for your commitment to the children.


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