10 First-Time Substitute Teacher Tips  

Ginger Abbot

Dec 2, 2022
subsitiue teacher

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Being a substitute teacher can impact students’ lives. So, it’s important to make a good first impression on the kids and administration. However, your first time in a classroom can be a little wracking. Here are ten first-time substitute teacher tips. 

1. Dress Appropriately 

Make sure you dress professionally. Even if your school has a more relaxed dress code, still dress business casual. For men khakis and a nice button-down shirt and for women knee-length skirts and blouses. Try not to wear sneakers, but find comfortable flats for standing. Dressing well will portray a sense of authority and impress the administration. 

2. Seek Out Kids With Special Needs

To effectively teach the class, you need to be able to meet their needs. So, do your homework and determine which pupils have medical or emotional requirements. You can ask the office staff or school nurse for this information. 

This way you can attend to those children throughout the day. When working with kids with special needs, engage with them and observe their non-verbal behavior for cues. In addition, pay attention to the mental well-being of your students. Do they look fatigued or have exaggerated emotional responses? These may be signs to give them extra attention. 

3. Be Early 

Arriving early is one of the most important first-time substitute teacher tips. It will show you’re reliable and make a good first impression. You want to arrive at least five minutes early to greet your pupils. If you need time to set up and review the lesson plan go earlier. 

Plus, this allows you to mentally prepare and build rapport with other teachers. In addition, you can become more familiar with the school. This can help you to be prepared for your next class. 

4. Say Hello to the Office Staff 

Even if you’re in a rush, take a minute to greet the office staff. Keep in mind they have connections with the other administrators. So, if you build a positive relationship with them you may be asked back again. Also, they can answer your questions and settle any classroom issues. If you have time at the end of the day, say goodbye, since it’s little things that can make people’s day. 

5. Introduce Yourself in a Unique Way 

Some children can feel nervous about a new face in the classroom. Introducing yourself in a fun way can help break the tension. For example, you could sing a song or tell them interesting facts about yourself. You could even bring a bag of items from home that represent your hobbies.

Another fun idea is two truths and a lie. This is where you say two true things about yourself and one false. Then let students try to guess which one isn’t true. After your introduction, have them go around and introduce themselves. Try to remember as many names as possible, so you can form better connections with students. 

6. Set Boundaries

As a substitute, your students may not take you as seriously. Setting boundaries is one of the harder first-time substitute teacher tips. That’s why you want to establish rules early on. You can even write them on the board at the beginning of class. Some may include things like following all rules and using appropriate language. 

If a child is following the rules, give them praise. For those acting up, be firm but respectful with them. Also, ask the current teacher what their rules are to make the transition smoother for the students. 

7. Follow the Lesson Plan 

Sticking with the lesson plan will keep the children focused. If you don’t finish the plan, make sure to leave a note for the current teacher. Be sure to review the plan closely before class, so you’re better prepared. If there isn’t a syllabus then bring along your own, which is specific for that grade level. 

Along with following a plan, have extra activities. Keep in mind students work at different paces. So, have something for them to work on if they finish early, so they won’t distract other students. 

8. End on a Positive Note 

Before students leave, tell them how much you enjoyed getting to work with them. This may be something that makes a child’s day. Also, say goodbye to the rest of the administration on your way out. This can help build rapport with them, which could lead to a more permanent position. 

9. Try Not to Take Things Personally 

Even though you have high expectations don’t blame yourself if it doesn’t go perfect. You may have children who act up and that’s okay. Try not to let it affect you too much. Remember they may have other stuff going on and new teachers can disrupt their normal routine.  

To help you remain positive try these tips:

  • Have a firm plan in place
  • Stay confident
  • Take a minute to breathe if you feel stressed
  • Don’t read into bad behavior just correct it 

10. Take Attendance After Kids Start Working

Taking attendance at the very beginning can take time away from the lesson plan. Instead, get started and give them direction first. Then you can do it as they complete an assignment. This also ensures kids aren’t goofing around while waiting to hear their names. 

First-Time Substitute Teacher Tips You Need To Know

Entering a new classroom can feel slightly intimidating. However, there are ways you can prepare and feel confident. Review this list of first-time substitute teacher tips before your next job. 

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