Teacher Preparation Opinion

Making the Most of Substitute Teaching

By AAEE — February 06, 2009 1 min read
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In these times of uncertainty, most new teachers entering the workforce are understandably concerned about their ability to obtain teaching positions. During the last decade or so it was fairly common for teachers to sign a contract right out of college, sometimes while they were still student teaching. More recently, however, many teachers are finding it necessary to “pay their dues” by working the “Sub Circuit.” As challenging as it may be, a positive substitute teaching experience may also lead to a permanent teaching position. When facing a sudden need to fill a position, most districts turn first to their loyal substitute teachers to meet those vacancies. Substitute teaching is an excellent way to become known by various colleagues and administrators, so it’s important to treat these opportunities as “pre-screening interviews.”

1. Always arrive early to prepare for the day.
2. Dress professionally. (Keep comfortable shoes on hand for PE or recess duty.)
3. Get acquainted with the secretary, custodian, staff members, and principal.
4. Follow the teacher’s lesson plans to the letter (if at all possible).
5. Be overly prepared and always have an alternate plan in your “bag of tricks.”
6. Know what the discipline standards are for the class and set down your expectations in the first two minutes. Be consistent.
7. Take the time after class to put things in order for the teacher’s return and leave a note for the teacher on the progress of the day.
8. At the end of your assignment, touch base with the secretary or principal.
9. Establish rapport and seek assistance from any instructional aide or assistant in the class. Get them on your side.
10. Seek information from your neighboring colleagues, if time permits, during breaks in the day.
11. It’s helpful to have business cards printed so you can leave them with the teachers you sub for. Leave a few extras so they can be distributed to other teachers.
12. No matter how challenging the assignment, keep a positive attitude!

--Diana Sanchez

Career Counselor, California State University San Marcos AND

Past-President, California Association for Employment in Education
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