Thursday, March 23, 2006

Substitute Teaching: Ten Tips for Success

by Carol Boles

421477_schoolYou may be a recent university graduate with a teaching degree hoping to secure a teaching position, or you may be unable to work full time because you have small children at home. Whatever your reasons, substitute teaching can be a frustrating job if you're not prepared. School districts have expectations for substitute teachers. However, many times they fail to communicate those expectations. They assume new and inexperienced teachers know what to do.

Apply these 10 tips and you'll become a successful substitute teacher - one who is appreciated by both the school district and the students.

1. Be prepared to work - If you know you may have to leave home early the next morning, have your clothes ready. Dress professionally, you will command more respect than those who dress casually. Print directions off the Internet to the school where you have been assigned. If you substitute in elementary schools make sure you wear a watch and have a whistle for recess duty.

2. Be Prompt and Dependable - Always arrive ahead of schedule so you have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with lesson plans and instructions the classroom teacher has prepared for you.

3. Follow the Lesson Plan - Never change the teacher's lesson plan unless the teacher has failed to leave plans for the day. If you arrive in a classroom without lesson plans, call the office and ask for the teacher's emergency sub plan. If there isn't one available, ask the principal or buddy teacher what the students should be working on. It's always good to bring along an emergency writing exercise, such as "Let Me Tell You About Me" or " Let Me Tell You About my Favorite Pet." This will keep students busy while you make plans for the day.

4. Whenever Possible, Teach - If you're a licensed teacher and familiar with the subject area, then teach. If you are unfamiliar with the subject area, ask another teacher for help.

5. Be Friendly - Help your students feel comfortable with a positive and enthusiastic attitude. Greet students at the door as they arrive. Write your name on the board and introduce yourself.6. Fulfill the Teacher's Responsibilities - You're expected to be the teacher on duty, whether that means outside recess, lunchroom supervision, or escorting students on a field trip.

7. Follow District Policies - Every classroom should have an emergency/evacuation plan posted. Familiarize yourself with the designated safe area and the lockdown procedure. Know how to handle a fire drill. Notify the principal, front office or nurse through the intercom system if there is a medical emergency in your classroom. Understand the district and school policy regarding phone and computer use. Never use district equipment for personal use.

8. Be Professional - Never discuss confidential information or behavioral problems with other parents or staff members. Speak with the principal if you have a concern about a particular student and leave a note for the teacher. Leave your views on religion, politics and education at home.

9. Leave a Note - At the end of the day, leave a note detailing the day's events and what you accomplished. Explain any problems or changes you needed to make in the teacher's lesson plans and why.

10. Maintain Records - Keep a record of who you substituted for, how long and when. If a payroll error is made you will have a record to refer to.

School districts depend on substitute teachers and are always eager to hire qualified applicants. Do a conscientious and professional job every time and your substitute teaching may lead to a permanent teaching position. But, above all, have fun and enjoy the kids.

Note: This article is available for free reprint at

1 comment:

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