Lessons for Substitute Teachers

One of the most challenging and typically overlooked teaching position out there is that of a substitute teacher. These valuable education professionals face situations that differ from a full-time teacher because of the unique circumstances they face every day. Substitute teaching is an excellent job, especially for those trying to get their foot in the door for a full-time career in education, as it provides real world experience while gaining skills that will give you an edge in both your professional and personal life. If you are a substitute teacher, or are considering a job as a substitute teacher, check out these tips and lessons to help you get through the school day.

Always Be Prepared

When you receive that morning wake-up call, you’ll be thankful that you took the time beforehand to pack your substitute teaching bag and have your outfit ready to go in your closet. Not having to figure out what to wear and rushing to pack a bag without forgetting anything will start your day off right and keep you from stressing about your assignment. Keep a binder of quick and easy games, activities and ice breakers in your bag separated by grade level; this can be helpful to flip through during any down moments in the day. Comfortable yet professional attire is always the best option for teaching any grade.

Adapt to the Plan

With every assignment, substitute teachers must quickly adapt to working in a new setting with a different age group and subject. While prepared teachers typically leave detailed plans and materials for their substitute teacher, interruptions may force you to stray away from the given schedule and cause you to think on your feet. Great substitute teachers quickly learn how to adapt and add creativity to the classroom. Whether it’s looking for fun ways to engage your students or establishing incentives for good behavior, you’ll find yourself thinking outside the box to stay on track with the classroom teacher’s plan. Be sure to keep detailed notes of what you covered and how it went so the classroom teacher can follow-up with you.Substitute Teacher Tips- Substitute Teacher Meme

Smile and Be Confident

First impressions mean everything! Although it may be easier said than done, try to stay confident and keep a smile on your face throughout the day.  Students will always test the limits with substitutes to try and lead you astray with the rules, but remain confident in your role within the classroom. If you perform well and leave a lasting impression on your students, other teacher, and ultimately school administrators while on an assignment, you’ll become a highly-desired substitute who gets specifically requested to fill future absences.

Dare to Discipline

While it may not be the best part about being a substitute teacher, discipline is needed. Kids may initially view a substitute as a glorified babysitter and will challenge the boundaries. Kids can sense fear, another reason why confidence is key! It’s important to establish rules and consequences right away. Don’t be afraid to talk to administration, or other teachers, regarding a student’s behavior.


All in all, while challenging, substitute teaching is rewarding work through which you can develop many marketable skills for your career that you might not have otherwise been exposed to. If you’re looking for substitute teacher jobs, apply now or contact one of our experienced Educational Staffing Specialists at (800) 879-4471.

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