14 Tips for Aspiring Substitute Teachers

Substitute teaching provides an opportunity to make an impact in students’ lives while also gaining experience in the teaching profession. 


It is important to approach substitute teaching with professionalism, excitement, and preparation, regardless of whether you see it as flexible part-time work or as a stepping stone to a full-time teaching career. Here are 14 tips for aspiring substitute teachers that can help them advance and start their careers:

1. Understand the Role

Spend some time learning about the duties and expectations of the position before beginning to substitute teach. When the regular teacher is not present, your duties as a substitute teacher may include:

  • Implementing lesson plans
  • Supervising student behavior
  • Offering assistance to the class

To guarantee a smooth transition into the classroom, familiarize yourself with the regulations, procedures, and emergency protocols of the institution. 

2. Obtain Needed Qualification

A high school diploma or its equivalent is typically required for substitute teaching roles, though particular qualifications may differ based on the state or school area. Additionally, some districts may require that substitute teachers finish further training courses or certification requirements.

Before applying for substitute teacher jobs, find out what is required in your area and take the needed action to get the relevant certifications. 

3. Build a Substitute Teacher Toolkit

You will need to be ready for various subject areas and classroom situations as a substitute teacher. Build a toolkit for substitute teachers that includes necessary supplies like:

  • Lesson plan templates
  • Tactics for managing the classroom
  • Instructive games or activities

Having a well-stocked toolkit will make you feel more ready and able to handle any issue that may come up in the classroom.

4. Establish Clear Expectations

You must set clear standards for student behavior and academic participation as soon as you walk into a new classroom as a substitute teacher.

You should greet the children, go over the expectations and norms for the classroom, and go over any particular directions or homework that the normal teacher may have left behind. Having clear expectations can help you minimize problems and create a healthy learning environment.

5. Create a Routine

Every time you walk into a classroom, you can establish a routine that you can stick to. If needed, adapt your strategy to each teaching position to suit your teaching style or subject. This is an example of a plan you may use:

  • Make an introduction and sign your name on the board
  • You may introduce yourself by revealing your personality 
  • Rehearse an attention-getter that you plan to use in class
  • Record the attendance
  • Make sure to look each student in the eye and smile
  • Conduct a game or exercise to encourage good behavior

6. Adaptability

Adaptability and flexibility serve as essential qualities for effective substitute teachers. Be ready to modify lesson ideas, classroom procedures, and student needs quickly.

Accept unexpected challenges as chances for development and education, and approach every day with an adaptable and optimistic mindset.

7. Build Relationships

Success as a substitute teacher may depend on developing strong bonds with administrators, staff, and students. Spend time getting to know each student personally, express interest in their pastimes and interests, and be attentive and encouraging.

Developing a connection with students will make your time in the classroom more enjoyable and fulfilling as well as help to build a helpful and positive learning environment.

8. Be Understanding

Engaging in different activities and interacting with students can make substitute teaching a pleasurable experience. But some days could be more difficult than others. So in those cases, keeping composed and making the required changes can make the day go more easily.

Additionally, develop an awareness of your own needs as well as those of your students. Remember that the students’ routines will also be changed by the presence of a substitute teacher.

9. Communicate Effectively

Being able to communicate effectively is essential to being a successful substitute teacher. To make sure that there is a smooth transition and to resolve any issues or queries that may arise, maintain open communication with:

  • The regular teacher
  • Other staff members
  • Administrators

Also, to help kids learn and grow, properly communicate expectations to them and offer encouragement and feedback.

10. Be Resourceful

It can be beneficial to get to know the teachers in nearby classrooms. Other teachers can provide you with general guidance on how to have a great day as well as answers to issues regarding the timetable and school policies. Some might even lend you stuff or suggest other things to do.

11. Embrace Professionalism

Keeping up a high level of professionalism is important to gaining the respect and confidence of administrators, staff, and students. Remember to:

  • Follow the rules and regulations of the school
  • Dress appropriately
  • Come on time

Make a good impression in every school you visit by approaching your work with professionalism, enthusiasm, and dedication. 

12. Have a Backup Plan

Arrive in the classroom prepared for any scenario and with an open mindset. Although most teachers give substitute teachers thorough lesson plans to follow, there may be times when you need to have your own backup plan.

For instance, you might have a few additional minutes because you finished an activity early or because the instructor you are covering for had an emergency and was not able to prepare a lesson. 

13. Reflect and Learn

Substitute teaching offers an opportunity to advance both professionally and personally. Spend some time thinking back on your experiences in the classroom, identifying areas that need work, and looking for chances to advance your career. 

Additionally, you may increase your effectiveness as a substitute teacher by investing in your professional development, whether it be through: 

  • Online courses
  • Workshops, or
  • Mentoring from experienced educators

14. Stay Positive

Keep an optimistic attitude when faced with difficulties and roadblocks. A substitute teacher’s day may not always go as planned and can be unpredictable. 

Remember that the school community, staff, and students value and depend on you as a substitute teacher. Go into each day with positivity and use the chance for personal development. 

Explore the Opportunities in Substitute Teaching!

Making a difference in the lives of kids and gaining helpful experience in the teaching profession are two of the most satisfying aspects of working as a substitute teacher. Scoot Education is an educational staffing company that helps substitute teachers find jobs and schools find substitute teachers.

These tips for aspiring substitute teachers may help you overcome challenges and gain the benefits of the role, which will eventually improve student achievement and well-being in classrooms. 



I am Finance Content Writer . I write Personal Finance, banking, investment, and insurance related content for top clients including Kotak Mahindra Bank, Edelweiss, ICICI BANK and IDFC FIRST Bank. Linkedin

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