I love reading all the things on your blog. You have such amazing outfits and ideas for everything and I love to see how your ideas work out. My question is Do you have any advice about being a substitute teacher? I am about to start subbing next month and wanted to know what advice you have about this topic.
Thanks for checking out my blog! Being that I was a substitute teacher for two years while I was in the credential program, this is a topic I'm extremely familiar with. Here are a few tips that will help make you a successful sub!
1. Take Every Job! Accept any and every job that comes your way. Don't limit yourself to a certain grade, school site, classroom, etc. Accept every elementary, middle, and high school job available. Take every P.E., Special Ed, Choir, or Wood shop class you can! Sure, it's not always what you plan on teaching, but a.) it's a paycheck and b.) it will help you in the long run.
2. Leave your business card. At the beginning of the school year I dropped off flyers at each school in my district to be placed in the teachers' boxes. After I subbed in a class, I would leave a magnet with all of my contact info on it. I decided to go with a magnet because the teachers are more likely to keep the magnet on their filing cabinet or white board as opposed to a business card that might end up in the trash. Next time they need a sub, they'll more than likely check out that magnet and give you a call!
3. Dress to Impress. As a sub, you need to be respected by the school staff and the students. Always dress up for work. If you're wearing jeans an sweatshirt, the students are less likely to take you seriously and you won't make a good impression on the staff.
4. Make Friends. I was always friendly with the office staff and teachers. I would chat with teachers in the hallways, break rooms, and on the playground. If you make your presence known, you will get called back to work at the school more often. When I would turn in the keys at the end of the day, I would always ask the secretary if there were any other days I was needed. By putting myself out there and making it known that I was available, the secretaries were more apt to call me.
5. Bag of Tricks. You never know what situation you're walking into. Carry a bag with any emergency supplies you may need. Candy/stickers/reinforcement items, a whistle, extra worksheets, name tags, etc. Sometimes, you'll get a lesson plan and whiz through it in half a day! Be prepared to have something to fill the time. Sometimes I would have small candies that I would use as reinforcements, especially for elementary classes. You can reward groups for working quietly by keeping points at the end of the day, pass out tickets to good students and raffle off the candy at the end, etc. You'll score brownie points with the students who will in return tell their teacher how cool you are! Hello call back!
6. Keep Your Cool. I have nothing but respect for subs. Having been there, I know first hand that it's a tough job! Some days I would come home and just melt down after a crazy class of 6th graders! Student's can be disrespectful, playful, loud, rude, and obnoxious! On the flip side, you'll work in some awesome classrooms that will remind you of how wonderful being a teacher truly is! Whatever you do, just keep your cool. Don't let the class see you sweat. If you're having behavior issues, call the office. If you have a question on the lesson plan, ask the teacher across the hall. And if you're having the craziest day ever, just remember that the bell will eventually ring and you won't have to see those crazy kiddos again!
7. Show up Early. Nothing is worse than having no idea what you're doing. Show up early and give yourself plenty of time to examine the lesson plan and materials so you're prepared for the day. Explore the classroom, figure out the seating chart, grasp the attendance procedures, etc. This will give you time to ask the office staff and neighboring teachers any questions you have.
8. Bring a Book. For whatever reason, in high and middle school, movies seem to be the go-to activity. You might get stuck watching hours of Bill Nye the Science Guy or Planet Earth. If you're stuck watching the same 40 minutes of a movie 6 times in a row, you're going to get bored. Bring a book or homework to do. Just make sure you're constantly monitoring the class and walking around. Don't just sit in the back reading all day!
9. Park Far Away. This might seem silly, but I always hated after school traffic! Now that I have my own classroom, I stay late to work and don't have to deal with it anymore. As a sub, there's no reason for you to stay thirty minutes after school. If you leave when school is over, you will absolutely get stuck in a sea of cars and buses. Park in a safe area that's just outside of the main parking lot to help avoid sitting in the parking lot for twenty minutes with all of the other impatient parents.
10. Have Fun! Have a positive attitude and try your best. The students will sense if you're angry, happy, grumpy, etc. and feed off of that. If you're confident in your job and have a great attitude, you'll have a great day in return!
Good luck, Mariah! I have faith you'll do a great job! Does anyone else have any advice for this fabulous reader?
Do you have a question? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll respond to you ASAP!