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My Top 7 Substitute Teacher Tips To Become A Requested Substitute Teacher

Inside: My substitute teacher tips to help you become a requested substitute teacher

One of the perks of being a substitute teacher is that you only have to work when you say “yes” to a call. So in a way, you get to make your own schedule that works with your life. It can be a great job for moms or those who need to work part-time or have flexible hours. It’s also great for those who are working their way towards their own education degree.

The downfall, however, is when you don’t get as many of those calls as you’d like. This can especially be a problem if you are a new substitute teacher, in an area without a shortage of substitutes. Ready to get more sub-jobs and keep your income steady? There are plenty of things you can do to keep teachers asking you back time and time again. Subbing in your favorite classrooms can be a steady gig if you know how to be a requested substitute teacher (and make teachers love you)!

Substitute teacher tip #1: Show up early

School secretaries get really busy when staff and students start to arrive. Getting there a little bit early will allow you time to check-in, go through materials and plans, and ask questions of colleagues.

I recommend coming extra early if it’s your first time subbing in a building or a classroom. This will allow you to know where bathrooms, specials (for elementary), the teacher’s lounge, and the lunchroom are located. Showing up early also shows that you are committed to the job and responsible. Teachers (and administrators) love that and will ask you back.

Substitute teacher tip #2: Use teacher-provided materials

If the teacher leaves materials and specific sub plans, use them! There is nothing more frustrating for a teacher than preparing sub plans and then returning to find that they were not used. Taking a day off from the classroom due to illness or professional obligations is difficult for teachers. There are so many reasons teachers don’t use their sick days even when they’re sick. Don’t let ignoring the plans be one of them.

Substitute teacher tip #3: Bring extra materials. . .just in case

Even though using teacher-provided materials is preferred, there will be times when the teacher doesn’t provide enough for the kids to do. Pack an emergency kit of extra activities to be prepared. The teacher will be so grateful that you came ready to go even when they didn’t have everything in order.

Coloring Pages for Substitute Teachers

You’ll be surprised how handy having extra activities available will be! Sometimes activities take less time than teachers plan on or students breeze through worksheets really quickly. You never know when you might be called into a classroom without any lesson plans. Whatever the situation you are coming into, you will appreciate having extra, quality materials on hand. 

Luckily, a full day of activities for K-6 is included in the Substitute Teacher Resource Binder. We also have lots of freebies available in our shop such as samples of our differentiated reading comprehension worksheets, 36 weeks of math & ELA skills, and of course, sub plans,  that are perfect for subs!

Substitute teacher tip #4: Brush up on classroom management

Getting to the school early will help you know general discipline plans for the school, but behavior ultimately comes down to classroom management. Good classroom management is key to a good day as a substitute teacher. 

Layout expectations early and often. If the teacher has rules and procedures in place, use those as much as you can to keep things consistent. Remind the students that when you give a good report, their teacher will be happy. Happy teachers mean happy students!

One great way you can incentivize good behavior is by using substitute punch cards. You can grab these for free by clicking here! You’ll also find them as a part of the Substitute Teacher Resource Binder.

Use substitute punch cards as an incentive for good behavior!

Substitute teacher tips #5: Leave detailed notes

If not following provided plans is the biggest complaint teachers have with guest teachers that they don’t ask back, leaving zero feedback is the second largest concern.

Teachers want to know which students had a difficult time following directions if plans didn’t go well, and which students were particularly helpful. There is no way for teachers to address concerns if they aren’t brought to their attention. Write down the good and the bad, so when the teacher returns, they can process with their class or individual students or adjust plans as needed.

Teachers also want to know what materials were covered so that they can plan for the day(s) to come. Make sure you tell them what work wasn’t finished and how far the class got through it. 

One great way to do that is with the substitute note forms that you can find for free in my shop. (You’ll also find this page and even more resources in the Substitute Teacher Resource Binder).

Substitute teacher tip #6: Grade objective work

If students hand in homework that has a definitive answer key, grade if you have time. Coming back to a pile of papers can be exhausting for a teacher, and if you can tackle a bit of the grading during a plan period, it’ll definitely put you at the top of the teacher’s sub-list!

Avoid grading subjective work like art and writing since the teacher may have a specific rubric or format to use.

Substitute teacher tip #7: Leave your contact info

When teachers have a sub that did a wonderful job, we’ll immediately put their phone number in our phones, email in our address books, and name on their preferred sub-lists. Make it easy for the teacher to get ahold of you, and remember you, especially if you want to come back.

Keep multiple copies of your substitute information handy to give to teachers when you sub.

I would recommend keeping multiple copies of your info page in your substitute resource binder. Then, you can always have a copy to give to teachers (and office staff) when it’s your first time in your classroom. It’s a great way to leave a good first impression.

Everything you need is in the Substitute Teacher Resource Binder!

Looking for a comprehensive, all-in-one resource with absolutely EVERYTHING you could need to substitute in the elementary classroom? I’ve got you covered! The Substitute Teacher Resource Binder includes an entire day of sub plans for Kindergarten-6th grades, plus TONS of bonus activities, a calendar, notes pages, and more!

The bundle is a huge discount vs. buying each set of plans individually, plus you get all of the extra bonuses. Substitutes everywhere have loved and appreciated this bundle, and it has made their substitute teaching so much easier! Check out what a few of them had to say:

“This resource is perfect for me! As a Substitute, I have been in classrooms where the teacher did not leave any plans. This is perfect with lots of resources so I don’t have to think of ways to keep the kids busy.” -Melissa G.

“Excellent resource! Just started casual teaching and the range of resources and activities will be extremely useful for me!” -Danielle W.

“This is a great help. I work in a K-12 alternative school, and these lessons and resources were great for creating my substitute binder to grab and go where ever they send me.” -Anonymous

Not ready for the full bundle yet? No worries. Grab some of our freebies to get you started! These will get you well on your way to having a resource binder as a substitute teacher.

When teachers know that their class is in good hands, it makes it less stressful to leave their classroom to someone else. You too can be a guest teacher that everyone classroom teacher calls again and again.

Follow these substitute teacher tips to become a requested substitute teacher and your calendar will be full from August until June

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kelsey sorenson

Hey there, new teacher bestie! I’m Kelsey, and I created Wife Teacher Mommy just for YOU! I blog about teaching and create elementary school and homeschooling resources to make your life easier. Be sure to sign up for my FREE email newsletter!

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