STEDI.org asked substitute teachers who are currently teaching for their advice. Here is a compilation of their responses. Thank you to those who submitted entries!

  1. Keep your sense of humor! - Debra, CA
  2. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency - Jessica, Hutchinson, KS
  3. I photocopy a class list and keep it on the desk. I make sure I give each child at least one positive comment during the day and tick off their name when I have done so. Then it's easy to see which children I haven't noticed yet. - Louise, Wollongong, N.S.W. Australia
  4. If you take attendance at the start of class, mark the absentees' names in pencil. After class, erase the pencil marks and redo in pen. - Ross
  5. Greet all of your students with a smile and a genuinely warm welcome. This will set the tone for the day - for both you and for your students, will answer the question "What will this sub be like?" and instantly wins kids over! So simple, yet so effective! - Betsy, NY
  6. Give each new class of students a chance to shine, even if they are a behavior problem with their regular class teacher. - Mary, Crystal Lake, IL
  7. Enjoy your students and they will enjoy you! - Sarah, FL
  8. Always have a 'bag of tricks' – Sara
  9. Tape nametags together and write the students' names on them. Hang the strip on the door. As kids come in, greet them and ask them to put on their nametags. You will see everyone's names and you'll easily see who is absent! No role to take! – Sarah, Sarasota County, FL
  10. Use index cards for your seating chart (student's names) and daily schedule and you conveniently have all your info at hand all day long. - Penny
  11. Treat all students like you would want another teacher to treat your own child. - Julie, TX
  12. Always arrive early and review the lesson plan. - Bill, Plano TX ISD
  13. A smile goes a long way! - Laurie, KS
  14. I have always found it very helpful to have a sense of humor and add a personal touch each time I greet students at the door to a classroom. It really puts a smile on their faces. - Neela, CISD
  15. Have always in your sub bag a few extra books and lessons plans, you never know when you will need it! - Lianeur, TX
  16. I carry small sticky notes and write a compliment for a good behavior on it, then put it on the student's desk as I pass by. – Gail
  17. Learn the student's names quickly. - Tiffany, PA
  18. Reinforce good behavior. - Alan, Boston Public Schools
  19. Make it a point to learn all the student's names as soon as possible. – Dana, TX
  20. Leave collected work organized where the teacher can easily find it. Leave a note for the teacher with the good, the bad, and what material was covered. - Shaina, NY
  21. Students pick up on your attitude very quickly. A calm, cheerful manner can go a long way in making the day run more smoothly! - Gail, MI
  22. Be yourself. Don't go into a classroom thinking you need to be something other than what you are. Relax, allow your sense of humor to come through, and treat each kid as if they are your neighbor, with respect, affection and a genuine interest in their lives. - Mark, Culpepper, VA
  23. When students leave the room to go to the nurse or the library or where ever it is, I put their name on the board along with the names of any students accompanying them AND the time they left the classroom. - Elena, FL
  24. I always greet the class at the door in the morning with a smile. - Becky, Sarasota, FL
  25. The first time you are in a classroom in a new school, learn if all the most important emergency procedures are written in procedure form. - Kenneth, Hendersonville, NC
  26. At the end of the day, have the students pick up all trash on the floor. Leave papers, books, etc. straightened on the tables and shelves. Straighten the desks, and push the chairs in. Leave the teacher's desk neat. The regular teacher (on his or her return) will appreciate walking into a classroom that is neat and orderly. – Deborah, FL
  27. Always ask "What does your teacher do when s/he wants your attention" - Dan, WA
  28. I think the most important thing I've learned is to be patient and organized; you never know what you will be walking into that morning. – Nancy, Irving TX
  29. Catch them being good. - Larry
  30. Stand at the door and greet students as they come in, welcoming them with a handshake. Deana, MO
  31. Don't EVER get involved in a power struggle with a student. Learn the signs of an imminent struggle, and keep your cool so you don't get sucked into a situation that you cannot control. - Susan, AZ
  32. Connect with potential problem students. Never be afraid to ask another teacher for help with a student. - Robin, TX
  33. A seating chart is necessary for excellent classroom discipline and management. – Daniel
  34. Set expectations at the beginning of the class period and explain the consequences if you do not meet those expectations. Be consistent in your rewards and punishments. Write down on the board students that are giving 100% to their work and report it to the teacher. Conversations about illicit acts (among themselves and by/ with you) should never exist in the classroom. – Edward, Boston Public Schools
  35. Try to find something good in each child and tell them. If you can try to bring in some inexpensive things to give away, like pencils, erasers, books, because nothing works better for a peaceful classroom than seeing a child get something for good behavior or winning at a game. – Janet
  36. Make learning exciting!! Cynthia, FL
  37. Develop and use a report form, like the one in the STEDI handbook, to leave for each teacher. I have received numerous referrals and callbacks from appreciative teachers! - Ranea, Twin Rivers Unified School District, CA
  38. Always leave the teacher a detailed account of what work you did. – Elisabeth
  39. Look at the children as you are speaking to them, it shows that you are interested and that they are important. For the students you are teaching are people who will influence the world for good. – Tyler, UT
  40. Pick your battles. - Christina, VA
  41. Follow the lesson plan – Vickie, IN
  42. Children just need your attention! - Pam, AL
  43. Having good procedures for lining up and collecting and passing out (remember change can be fun for a day). - Cathleen, TX
  44. As a substitute teacher I learned that each student is unique and special in their own way. – Deborah, MI
  45. I like the ol' business adage for making a speech. It works well when substituting: 1. Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em. 2. Tell 'em. 3. Tell 'em what you told 'em. Students understand what's happening and stay with you throughout the day. - Claudia, MA
  46. Follow the lesson plans. – Mike, FL
  47. Listen to the students. – Annette, CA
  48. Greet students at the door with a big smile and a "Good Morning". -Sylvia, TX
  49. Discipline with Respect - Linda, AZ
  50. Be Fair. Be Firm. Be Prepared. - Karen, FL
  51. Thank a student for teaching you something you didn't know. - Lauren, WV
  52. Do not ignore those kids who think they aren't smart. - B. Lee, WA
  53. Make every child feel special, because they are. You may be the only one in their lives that does. – Shari, TX
  54. Remember a substitute should always believe they are teachers too! - Virginia, MA
  55. Include some movements in the daily schedule. For example, stand up and stretch. – Diana, CA
  56. Treat students the way you would want to be treated. - Kassis, NJ
  57. Practice difficult names on the roll; especially in diverse schools. - Robin, TX
  58. Ask questions to help the students figure problems out. – J., Chicago, IL
  59. Stand quietly at the front of class. Do not speak until the entire class stops talking. It is amazing, but the students will stop talking. Once the class has "come to order" start class. – Robert, Olympia, WA
  60. At the beginning of the class, announce your expectations and that you are making a list of students who are on their best behavior, or being most helpful, on the board. – Carolyn, Roseville, CA
  61. I feel a teacher commands more respect when she is dressed appropriately and are well groomed. – Dorothy, Chandler Unified School District, AZ
  62. Anticipate a good day. – Gary, IN
  63. Carry your own stick-on nametags and a black marker. At the beginning of each class, take 5 minutes to make nametags individually; put one on yourself as well. Do this even when students have name badges issued by the school since you can read your larger printing more easily. (No, they may not stick them on their foreheads!) – Cheryl, TX
  64. Manage by walking around. Students expect subs to just put in their time, and, believe it or not, are quite pleased with someone who actually teaches. – Linda
  65. Establish discipline right away and always stay calm. - Penny, NY
  66. Students like the idea that not only the teacher is to be respected but also all others. – Tom, Houston, TX
  67. A day with a substitute teacher helps students think, "Yes, I can succeed because both my teacher and the sub believe that." - Roumany, VA
  68. Stretch your instructions, depends on students needs. - Prem, Miami, FL
  69. Substitute teaching gives me an opportunity to help develop responsible citizens and reward students for their effort as a means of encouragement. - Dorothy Edwards, GA
  70. Make your teaching relevant to your students. – Stephen, NJ
  71. All children have ability. – Rose, NJ
  72. Bring controlled & appropriate laughter in the class. - Sharon MSB, AK
  73. Positive rewarding is better than negative one. – Rebeka, TX
  74. Remember it's great to be a substitute. – Anna
  75. Teach bell-to-bell and you'll reduce 90% of student problems. – Kervin, Birmingham, AL.
  76. Before you take attendance look for energetic students. Mark their names during attendance so you can remember them later. - Liza, ST
  77. Put books away if left out. Straighten up the chairs and desks. Sweep if there is a broom to get large pieces of trash off the floor. Teachers really appreciate coming back to a neat room. It takes a little extra time for you but is worth the positive feed back. Better yet get the kids to help you as you go along.
  78. Your most valuable skill is Classroom Management...it should be the 'sharpest pencil in your box'! - Nancy, TX
  79. Get control of your class when they come in. – Verna, AR
  80. I keep a journal of what routines that work in a classroom. – Rebecca, CA
  81. Know and maintain the regular classroom teachers expectations. It is easier to maintain control then to regain it. – Lew
  82. If you are having trouble getting your students "on-task" with an assignment the regular teacher left, tell them you will be checking their work individually as you walk around and that you will be leaving a report for their teacher. This works well with middle school and high school students. Just give them about 15 minutes to accomplish something before you start checking. - Jane, GA
  83. Be polite but firm. Positive feedback gives better result than being a critic. – Chandoshi, CA
  84. Do in the classroom what the regular teacher has requested. Follow the instructions religiously. – James, FL
  85. Always have a backup lesson plan! - Laura, UT
  86. Don't take yourself too seriously, and be willing to laugh at yourself if you make a mistake! As a result, the kids will be more relaxed and willing to work with you to make the day a successful day of learning. - MaryEllen, IN
  87. Use the KWL method when you do not know the subject matter. – Shirley, Fort Worth, TX
  88. If one is not provided, sketch a quick seating chart of the elementary school classroom. This enables you to call on students by name. Another benefit is that you can use tally marks on the seating chart to make sure you call on each student. – Ann, WA
  89. Establish rules immediately and keep the students busy. – Shannon
  90. Learn the children's names and use them as much as possible. - Sharon, FL
  91. Be careful of too much familiarity! - Janice, Katy ISD
  92. Try to always have work for your students. – Janice, NJ
  93. Try to make students feel comfortable when they first enter the classroom. - Margarett, IL.
  94. Never let them see you sweat. – Melanie. Laurel, MT
  95. Do not be shocked or dismayed by disruptive behavior. Have your discipline plan in place before you enter the classroom. – Laura, Katy ISD, TX
  96. Treat the students and classroom as though you've been the teacher since the beginning of the school year. – Pat, CA
  97. A smile, a bit of humor and a riddle go a long way in building rapport with your students. – Walter, IN
  98. Always have the school's phone number handy for when you get lost on the way to a new job.- Ray, FL
  99. Wear comfortable shoes. – Saja, VA
  100. Have a creative activity bag of 5-minute fillers. - Dana, CA
  101. Respect student's space and privacy. - Hilda Y., IL
  102. Network... network... network. – Carolyn, MO
  103. If a child is upset, discuss with them off to the side (or right inside/outside the classroom door) so that the other kids do not hear the conversation. – Audra, IL


6 Responses

Jennifer says:
September 20, 2013, 9:25 AM

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for all the comments and helpful hints. I will use all 103.

Reply
Miss Peek says:
October 18, 2013, 11:58 AM

My Point of view being a Sub Teacher, is A (WONDERFUL). It's about Learning, Focus, Education, Responsibility, Caring, Dependable, Patience, & (FAITH).

(HAVING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE). (PRACTICE). (REMEMBER, KNOW ONE IS (PERFECT). IS DOING YOUR JOB.

Reply
mario estrada says:
October 21, 2013, 8:10 PM

What are some respecting tips from subsitute teachers

Reply
Deanna says:
November 4, 2013, 6:28 PM

Thank you for all of these wonderful tips. Next week I'm taking a class for substitute teaching. I'm not sure what to expect from the class, but I was looking for a little input from those who have already traveled these uncharted waters.

Reply
Stephanie says:
November 5, 2013, 1:17 PM

I am substitute teaching for the first time in my life tomorrow for high school Math. I have worked in corporate America for 25 years, given presentations to company presidents, CFO's etc. I have never been more scared than I am right now. High school math. I hope I survive!

Reply
N says:
December 4, 2013, 1:34 AM

So how did it go? Hopefully well!

Reply

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