Now that I am retired I have been Substitute teaching and the extra income really comes in handy. I have done pretty well in getting work, and I have some ideas that might help others. I have listed them with a brief explanation in an order below that I believe are most important from one to five.
Number One: You need to get to know the staff. The most important person might be the person that makes the calls for substitutes. I substitute mostly at the high school that I worked for several years and have gotten on good terms with the office secretary who keeps track of substitute needs. I check with her quite often to get updates because many times teachers know well ahead of time when they will be gone. The other staff member who gets substitutes early in the morning where I often work is the associate principal. In our building he is also the Athletic Director, and I have taken coaching assignments and done some volunteer work for him which help keeps me in the loop, and I think that helps. You can’t forget about the teachers themselves because often times they will request people to substitute that they have confidence in.
Number Two: Follow the teacher’s plan as close as possible. Even if you think you might have a better idea, don’t get away from the plan that was provided for you. Along with this idea is to get to the school early enough to figure out what a teacher wants you to do. Often times, if there is things you don’t understand, there is another teacher within the department that will help.
Number Three: You must be available. If every time you are called and you have made other plans then the phone calls will not continue. I did not have a cell phone before I started substituting, but found out it was good investment because there are very few times that I missed assignments because they could not get a hold of me.
Number Four: Try to get familiar with the material. I get a lot of math assignments because I have kept up with it and like it. I also have been somewhat of a History buff and that might have helped me get some social study assignments. I don’t usually get assignments from the Music Department, because I don’t have a lot of experience with their curriculum. Although if a school really needs you because of a shortage, you must be willing to try and fill in sometimes.
Number Five: Treat students with respect and get to know them. The hard core disciplinarian we often knew as teacher’s back in the day often does not come across very well today. This is true especially if you are a substitute. That does not mean you can let students run over you, but you need to revert to a variety of techniques to handle the diverse population of students in classrooms today.
These are five ideas if you are a beginning teacher trying to get your foot in the door, or a retiree as myself who wants to continue to work.