It has been said in the past that a substitute teacher’s job description is similar to babysitting.  This cannot be farther from the truth!  Preparation and learning must take place in order for the job to be successful.  All of the rules and structure of the classroom and school must be followed which requires a substitute to catch on fast or try to prepare in advance.  The purpose of a substitute is to continue the learning process while the regular teacher is out.

If you are considering the occupation of a substitute teacher here is the job description and the work required.


Follow the school and classroom rules.  This is important to model good behavior, but students also need the routine and consistency of their classroom while their teacher is away.

Classroom management.

All substitutes must be able to manage the students within the classroom.

Lesson Plans.

Teach the lesson plan given to you.  Again, daily routine is necessary.  The class will not benefit from another teacher’s plans for the day.

Other duties.

Administrators might ask you to perform other duties within the school which might not be in the classroom.  (bus duty, cafeteria duty, ete)


Being early to your designated classroom is highly recommended to allow you to prepare for the day.  Also, meet and instruct assigned classes in the designated locations and times.


Sometimes substitute become long term subs.  During this time you are given the opportunity to plan a program of study that meets the individual needs, interests  and abilities of the students.


Create an environment in the classroom that is appropriate for learning.  Students should feel comfortable enough to ask question, but feel the routine at the same time.

Written communication.

Take notes throughout the day of any changes made to the lesson plan or pertinent information from the day.

Safety is first.

Never do anything or allow anything to occur that might jeopardize the someone’s safety.

These are a few of the basic requirements listed in the substitute teacher job description.  It is a hard, but rewarding occupation.  This job requires flexibility, organization, the ability to stay on schedule and on task and the love for students and education.

Classroom management and teaching seem to be two of the most challenging requirements.  One way to feel more comfortable addressing these skills is by shadowing another teacher for a day.  Find out what other teachers do to manage a classroom.  Research strategies.  Do not walk into the class without a classroom management plan.

Teaching can be difficult if you are not familiar with the subject matter.  If you are given advance notice on the subject or grade you will be teacher do your research before you enter the classroom.  Look online to see the curriculum you will be teaching .  Study it!  If you have asked only to sub in a particular grade level or a certain age group study what they are studying.  Most likely if you are interested in substitute teaching you enjoy learning.  Take the time to reeducate yourself and be prepared when a sub position comes you way.

Substitute teaching is an interesting and rewarding job!  Hopefully now you will be prepared and know what to expect when the principal calls you for the job!

Good luck!