Substitute Teaching: The Ultimate Guide to Subbing

Inside: Whether you are just getting started or a veteran substitute teacher, this guide to substitute teaching will help you be prepared and ready for subbing!

When it comes to substitute teaching, you might have a lot of questions when you are getting started. This ultimate guide to subbing will help you navigate everything from how to become a substitute teacher to lesson plans. You’ll learn how to go with the flow when things don’t go as planned, get more sub jobs, and manage even the most unruly classroom. Read on to get the resources and advice you need to become a well-respected substitute teacher!

Are you a substitute teacher looking for substitute teaching ideas? Check out our ultimate guide to subbing! These substitute teaching tips will help you be a prepared substitute teacher in an elementary setting. Includes classroom management ideas for subs, free printables you can use, games and activities, and more! Great for guest teachers in kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. Ideas for substitute teacher outfits and clothes. Being a substitute teacher tips post.

How to Start Substitute Teaching

If you’re just researching, you may be wondering how to become a substitute teacher. If you’re new to subbing, figuring out the qualifications you need dependent on state and district can be overwhelming. You’ll want to decide which districts to apply to, prepare your resume, and get ready for interviews. Subbing can be such a rewarding career, and this step-by-step guide will help you navigate the way to get your foot in the door (and stay there) when you start subbing.

Be Prepared for Subbing with Lessons & More

Being a prepared substitute teacher will have teachers, buildings, and districts calling you back for more. Carry a planner to keep track of your jobs, and have an arsenal of back-up plans ready to go with a substitute resource binder. The way your day begins is just as important as how it ends.

Keep a planner to keep your substitute teacher jobs organized.

Make sure to leave the classroom teacher everything they need to know about how the day went. Did the lessons go as planned? Were there any behavior issues? Leave praise for the students who were extra helpful and kind as well. Don’t forget to leave your contact information. Let the teacher know that you are available for future sub jobs.

The substitute teacher resource binder is perfect for substitutes in an elementary setting! A full day of plans for K-6 is included along with a calendar, info forms, punch cards and more!

Want to try out some of these lessons? Sign up for the FREE resource library here and get a sample lesson for every grade level. Take these with you and you’ll have a backup whenever there is any extra time!

Books to Keep on Hand while Substitute Teaching

Keeping a few story books on hand is always advisable. Should lesson plans be incomplete or your elementary or early childhood students get a little rowdy, pulling out a high interest, beautifully illustrated text can keep even the most rowdy kids engaged. Even older children love read alouds. Check out these fiction books about substitute teaching for young readers that you can share with your classes as an easy icebreaker. (Titles include Substitute Creacher, Miss Nelson is Missing, and more!)


Sharing a few content related books should you be teaching a certain subject area can also help if the lessons are a little short or the students need a break. Read alouds are always a great idea for any content area.

Getting More Subbing Jobs

You’ve gone through the hiring process and started getting jobs. Keep teachers, schools, and districts calling you by using these tips to be a requested substitute. Besides being prepared and organized, being friendly, on time, and interacting with the staff in a positive way will help you get additional sub jobs. When other teachers see how hard you work to relate to staff and students, they’ll want you to sub in their classrooms as well. Make sure to follow plans and leave notes for the teachers, and you are sure to get plenty of call backs! The “How Did The Day Go” note form is . great way to leave detailed notes for teachers. A form like this is included with all sub binders and sub plans- including The Substitute Teacher Resource Binder!

End of day form

Managing a Classroom as a Substitute Teacher

Even if you have classroom teaching experience, managing a classroom can be difficult as a substitute. Getting used to a new group of students daily or weekly, having little background on student needs, and navigating your way through new procedures and systems can cause any teacher to face frustration.

You can be friendly without being the students’ friend. Being consistent but fair is the most important way to maintain a positive learning environment in the classroom. You may also think of a way to incentivize positive behavior. Using substitute punch cards or writing positive notes to the classroom teacher about the class or individual students can help promote good behavior when you return as well. Simply use a hole punch to punch the cards when the students are doing well.

Use substitute punch cards as an incentive for good behavior!

Gaining Respect while Substitute Teaching

When entering a new classroom you will encounter students who are disrespectful and don’t want to follow the rules. As with classroom management, having high and consistent expectations will help alleviate some of that misbehavior. It’s also important to introduce yourself and share a bit of your story. Your students want to see you as a person and a teacher they can trust. Share pictures of your family, tell about your background, and let them know what you love to do in your free time. Show them who you are, and be ready to help them learn!

You will LOVE the Substitute Teacher Resource Binder

Be prepared for any sub job in K-6 classrooms with the ultimate substitute teacher resource binder. With 420 pages of activities, monthly calendars, binder cover, sub info, note pages, and more, you will be ready for any class that comes your way.

Be prepared for substitute teaching with the Substitute Teacher Resource Binder! This bundle has absolutely everything you'll need for substitute teaching in Kindergarten through 6th grades!

Sub Plan Freebies for Substitute Teachers

Download all the grade level lessons and punch cards to keep on hand! There are so many freebies to add to your sub tub or binder. Utilizing ready-made materials and fostering relationships with student and staff can go a long way to building your career.  Click here to grab your free sub plans!

These free sub plans are perfect for Kindergarten-6th grade teachers!

Follow this ultimate guide to subbing to have a successful year and successful career. You may also love our substitute teacher teacher tees and these other supplies for subbing (such as a hole punch and binder for your punch cards and sub plan lessons!)


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