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Expectations and Tips for Substitute Teachers

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 9/11/2012

Have you ever wanted to teach? Have you considered substitute teaching as a career or stepping stone? This article outlines the requirements for substitute teaching.

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    What is Expected of Substitute Teachers

    Have you considered a career in education? Perhaps you have heard that substitute teaching is a great way to explore the possibility of a career in education. Substitute teachers get hands on experience which enables them to "test the waters" of a career in education. On the flip side, I'm sure you have heard horror stories about substitute teaching. In order to dispel some of these myths as well as lending some insight into the world of substitute teaching, there is a list below explaining some of the requirements for substitute teaching.

    • Lead by example. As any other adult dealing with children, you are required to provide students with a role model worthy of their attention. This means that a substitute teacher should be timely, well groomed and organized.

    • Leave personal issues at home. Any personal issues you have should be left at home. They have no place in the educational atmosphere you have chosen to belong to.

    • Try to arrive early so you can familiarize yourself with the teachers folder. This is a folder of papers that the regular teacher leaves for substitutes. Inside is normally a seating chart, a list of instructions and perhaps a note or two from the teacher to fill in the details.

    • Introduce yourself to the students. Write your name on the board and introduce yourself verbally once the students are seated. Make sure that the students know they are required to sit in their assigned seats. You may also write this on the board.

    • Once the students are seated, take attendance. Use the seating chart as well as verbally requesting a response to their name being called. Inform the students that they should respond to their name and be in their assigned seats in order to be marked present. This is a great way to assert authority while getting the students to momentarily be quiet. There is no need to be harsh, but the students do need to know that you should be afforded the same respect they would give every teacher. Plan and work toward earning that respect.

    • Review the lesson plan for the day. Go over this lesson plan with the students so they know what to expect. A good way to ensure appropriate participation in the lesson plan is to offer some free time at the end of the day, provided the lesson plan has been thoroughly worked through. Also be sure to familiarize yourself with the numbers to school administrators as well as any teachers who are teaching the same grade as you. These numbers can prove quite useful during the course of the day.

    • Use the lesson plan to guide you through the day. Try to stick as close to the schedule as possible. Assist students as needed.

    • Don't be afraid to call for assistance with behavior problems or lesson plan issues. Most school employees are happy to help out, especially if you are a new substitute teacher.

    • Be true to your word and award the students with free time if applicable. This can be in the form of a game for younger students or study time for older students.

    Above all, remember you are not a babysitter. You are a teacher. There are minimal requirements for substitute teaching that you as a professional are expected to meet. You are expected to fill the role of a certified teacher in as many ways as you can. Keep yourself and your students on focus at all times. If the students are busy with their studies, then they don't have time to misbehave!