Imagine you are about to face a roomful of antsy eighth graders.  You’ve managed to land a job as a substitute teacher, and despite the low pay and lack of benefits, you’re excited about starting your new job.  But kids are smart, and if you don’t take control from the outset, they will.  If you were faced with your first assignment as a substitute teacher, wouldn’t you want to have attended a good training program first?


Imagine you are a teacher.  You’re home sick, or your car breaks down on the way to school and there is a substitute teacher taking your place for part of the day, or longer.  Wouldn’t you want that substitute teacher to be someone your class will learn from?  Wouldn’t you want them to have received some training in how to be a good sub?


Now, suppose you are a student.  You really want to excel in class.  You know that if you get  behind in your studies, your test scores may drop and your grades may be in jeopardy.  If for some reason, your teacher can’t make it to class, wouldn’t you want a substitute teacher who could actually teach?  Of course you would.  You wouldn’t want a glorified babysitter trying to figure out how to handle 40 students without screaming at them.


Substitute teachers come from all walks of life.  Some of them may have experience as teachers, but many do not.  School districts often cannot afford to pay very much to their substitute teachers, and with the shortage of qualified individuals, a good substitute training program is very important.


In many school districts, however, no training is required to become a substitute teacher, particularly if one already holds a teacher certificate.  One just needs to meet the state mandated requirements for hiring.  However, most school districts provide some kind of training afterwards.  Ideally, a good training program covers classroom management, how to stay engaged with the class (don’t give out an assignment and then start reading a magazine or texting with your friends) and the legal responsibilities of all teachers to ensure the safety of their students.


Other topics covered by substitute training programs include tips on how to dress appropriately, what constitutes sexual harassment, how to handle any disciplinary issues which may arise and what to do in the event of an emergency.  Good training programs are able to offer practical advice to help a substitute teacher feel comfortable in front of the class and effectively help the students when their regular teacher is unable to be at school.  Some training programs require payment, which may be the substitute teacher’s responsibility.


Good training programs benefit the substitute teacher, the regular classroom teacher and the students themselves.  With the current shortage of teachers and many school districts increasingly relying on substitutes, schools should invest in the best substitute teacher training programs they can afford.  Doing so will definitely pay off in future dividends that will justify the initial cost of such training prog