Although my primary source of income is from my copywriting business, I am also certified to teach and have been substituting for the past nine years. Substitute teaching can be challenging because students may try to undermine the authority of a substitute, and teachers sometimes leave gaps in lesson plans or may not account for unexpected schedule changes. Over time, I have developed substitute teaching tips that have helped engage students and eased the burden of doing my job efficiently.
I try to arrive a few minutes early because this gives me time to create a seating chart, overview the lesson plan, and track down teachers who can assist me if I have questions. Sometimes full-time staff has meetings before school, so arriving early allows me to catch them before they get busy with other responsibilities.
Introducing myself to the school custodian and technology experts have made them accessible when I need their help. On occasion, the custodian has supplied extra trash bags, immediate cleanup assistance, and help using basic technology, such as a sound system in the gymnasium. The technology specialists provide a quick lesson when I need more in-depth technological assistance, and some can supply students’ passwords when they forget them. Eliminating technology problems before they occur, or knowing how to get immediate help, makes the lesson flow smoothly and minimizes the opportunity for students to get disruptive.
I ask the office secretary if any unusual activities are scheduled. Even a small schedule change can affect the timing for the rest of the day. Sometimes teachers forget about assemblies or are not aware of fire drills. If scheduling changes make it impossible the entire lesson plan, advanced preparation can help me prioritize which activities in the lesson plan are most important.
Spending a few minutes reminding the students that I am not their regular teacher prepares them for subtle variations in their routine. Students love to correct substitute teachers, but if they are prepared for slight changes, they are less likely to point them out and accept them.
Calling students by their name helps me keep them engaged and encourages them to stay on-task. Many teachers post name tags on the students’ desks, but I frequently give out name tags or jot down notes on the seating chart, so I can easily refer to students by name.
These substitute teaching tips and tricks will enhance your teaching experience. They take only a small amount of time and reap terrific benefits.