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Substitute Teacher Tips: A Toolkit

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi • edited by: Benjamin Sell • updated: 3/2/2012

What does every substitute teacher need? His or her very own educational toolkit. A substitute teacher is constantly on call and needs to be prepared for whatever is thrown his or her way. Read on for tips on building your very own toolkit!

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    Tips for building the toolkit

    You received the phone call this morning that you are needed to fill in at a neighborhood school. A teacher called out at the last minute and left nothing for you, the substitute. What do you do?

    Tip #1:

    • If you substitute for various grade levels, such as K-5, make sure you have material on hand for various grades. The last thing you need to be doing at 8am is printing out lessons for the 4th grade class you are going to be substituting.

    Tip # 2:

    • Do not rely on the school office for copies. Come with well over enough copies of worksheets or tell students to not write on the worksheets. Allow the students to use loose leaf paper or write the lesson on the board. No need for worksheets!

    Tip #3:

    • Come prepared with more than one subject or topic to cover. So the class has finished the language arts worksheets, now what? There is no way you are making it through the day with 30 students sitting quietly and reading. Students need to be productive. Please make sure you have enough work to do for the entire day.

    Tip #4:

    • Use materials in the class. There are plenty of materials in the class you can very well use including workbooks, textbooks, math manipulatives, and literature. If you are really stuck and have nothing left to do, look around that classroom. It is a classroom…there has to be something you can use to educate the students!

    Tip #5:

    • If all else fails, play a game. If you really are at your wit’s end and have nothing else to do for these kids, try playing a game like Jeopardy. Set up the board with 5 categories and split the class into 2 teams. This will surely be a crowd pleaser.

    Some great sites to get materials from include:

    • The Substitute Teacher Homepage is a wonderful resource which includes lesson plans, books, and worksheets. This site covers many topics including Social Studies, Math, Language Arts, Classical Literature, The Arts, and Foreign Language.
    • Enchanted Learning has plenty of free worksheets, lessons, online quizzes, and online material which you can print out. They also have a member’s area which you pay a fee. The material on this site ranges from shapes to American History. Plenty for every grade level.
    • Ed Helper is another free site which features resources, worksheets, quizzes, and lesson plans. There is also a member’s area for a fee. This site is geared towards preschool to grade 12.

    Reading material to check out:

    These substitute teacher tips will surely be a lifesaver!