The Changing Requirements of the Substitute Teacher

The job requirements for a substitute teacher have dramatically changed over the years.  No longer does the substitute teacher job description solely entail holding down the fort until the regular teacher returns.  Each and every day of school is vitally important for the success of all children.  The substitute teacher must be able to step into the absent teacher’s shoes and carry on.  This can be an intimidating situation if you are not prepared.

Imagine walking into a classroom on the first day of school.  On this day you will learn the structure of the classroom, the map of the building and the routine of the school.  Tack on meeting new people and remembering their faces.  Now do the same sequence again tomorrow at a different school.  This process can be never ending and overwhelming.  Listed below are 7 key traits of a quality substitute teacher who can take on every new situation.    

Flexibility in Your Teaching Role

First, the teacher must be flexible.  Before they arrived, the class was operating under the rules and structure of their regular teacher.  It is the substitute’s job to quickly learn the rules and routines of the classroom and enforce them.  With a new teacher in the classroom the students will feel comfortable with the familiarity of their daily routine. 

Also, in any school setting, there must be room for unexpected schedule changes such as an all school pep rally, fire drill or pull outs from special services.  All of these things can disrupt the classroom, but the students are looking at the teacher to comfortably model the ability to embrace change.

Organization for Quick Reference

Organization is a key quality to observe among substitute teachers.  From the second the substitute steps foot in a school setting; instructions, directions, lesson plans and maps of the school are being put in their hands.  It is a lot of information, but it is all necessary and important. 

Obviously all of this information cannot be memorized or even understood immediately, but it can be compartmentalized in a folder or another organization tool to quickly reference when needed.  Being prepared for as many situations as possible will help the teacher succeed in the classroom and leave a positive reminisce to be asked to return to the school in the future.

Clear Communication

An essential trait of any teacher is the ability to properly communicate with others.  This is equally important with substitute teachers.  Administrators and teachers, alike, are pressed for time during the school day.  They are familiar with their school and routine which makes it difficult for them to communicate all the needs of the school day to a new person.

It is imperative for substitutes to speak up and advocate help when needed or simply ask questions.  At the same time, this ability to communicate must roll over in the classroom.  Students must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what you are teaching.  Student’s learning must not be put on hold simply because their teacher is absent.               

Classroom Management and the Substitute Teacher

Excellent classroom management is mandatory for every teacher, and substitute teacher, regardless if it’s preschool or high school.  Every teacher must know how to run a classroom.  This is a difficult skill to grasp and maintain, but students will only benefit from a teacher with strong classroom leadership skills.  Each substitute teacher needs to have their individual classroom management plan, but they must blend it with the already existing plan of each class.  Above all, children need the security that the substitute teacher is in control.

Proper Substitute Training

A doctor would not walk into surgery without any prior knowledge on how to conduct the surgery at hand.  And, at the same time, a substitute teacher should not walk into a classroom without any prior knowledge on how to be a teacher.  Before a substitute teacher takes a position in a classroom, proper training and education must be done in order for a positive experience to take place. 

Teachers R Us, a teacher staffing company, offers proper substitute training, as well as, in-depth resources for all educators.  There are several workshops to prepare the substitute for a successful substitute teaching career. 

Compassionate Nature

Each child is going to need something different from the substitute teacher.  Some children just need respect and patience.  Others might need love and understanding.  Yes, it is the job of all teachers to educate, but all good teachers create a safe environment where learning can take place. 

The compassionate nature of a substitute teacher even for a day can make a huge difference in a child’s life.  Teaching in a thoughtful manner will leave an impression and encourage children to become involved and excited about their education.  Compassion is something that all teachers can give!

A Positive Attitude = Positive Children

Substitute teachers should try to maintain a positive attitude in all situations.  Not every school or classroom is going to be the ideal situation.  Not every principal or student is going to be the favorite.  Despite these facts it is important for substitutes to remember first impressions allow them to be invited back to a school. 

Principals and teachers call upon substitute teachers who demonstrate a positive and respectable manner.  A positive attitude could get a substitute their next job!     

Before entering into this profession it is important to consider all 7 of the quality substitute teacher traits.  Also, consider the personal goal of becoming a substitute teacher. 

Do you want to make a career change? 

Do you want to be connected to a certain school? 

Are you considering the profession of teaching? 

Whatever the objective, the ultimate reason must be your compassion for children and making a difference in someone’s life.  Education is the most important occupation in the world. 

Remember substitutes are an essential piece of the education puzzle.  Our schools need quality educated people to assist in the advancement of out students.