6 Things Your Sub Wants You to Know

substitute teacher in an elementary classroom

Every teacher will have to be gone from their room at some point in time and will need the services of a substitute teacher. Substitute teachers are professional teachers who have the same education and training as classroom teachers to teach students. Substitute teachers go into different classrooms every day and have figured out how to manage those classrooms, grades, schools, and colleagues all while keeping your students on track in the curriculum. Here are some things that your substitute teacher really wants you to know when preparing for their stint in your classroom:

  1. When you first were assigned these students at the beginning of the year, there may have been a teacher from the students’ past who gave you a heads up about the behaviors you may expect from them. Please give your substitute the same courtesy. Include a list of students who may need an extra eye watching them during the day and those who will be helpful in making the day go smoothly.
  1. Leave detailed plans about the morning routine. While students are putting away backpacks, coats, homework, and making their lunch choices is the most chaotic time of day, especially when they see a new face in the classroom. The substitute teacher needs to know the expectations your students have for morning routines. 
  1. Once everyone is settled into their desks, things calm down and the substitute teacher can explain what the day is going to look like. In your plans, let your substitute know what the daily schedule is like and what each lesson is about. Your substitute teacher and your students will feel more at ease if they have a schedule to stick to and an idea of what the goal will be during each part of the day. 
  1. Tell your substitute teacher how you get your students’ attention. Do you say “1-2-3, eyes on me” or clap a rhythm with your hands? Set them up for success by leaving some familiar attention-getters for the day. 
  1. Do not leave so many notes that you end up giving your substitute a word-for-word soliloquy to perform as if you were teaching for the day. Your substitute teacher has their own tried and true teaching style. They have been trained for teaching and will be able to get through a lesson just fine with a few notes from you and a teacher’s manual. Make sure there are manipulatives out and ready for the substitute if any are needed, but they know how to teach a lesson. Trust your substitute teacher. 
  1. Lastly, just like in the morning, leave a detailed plan for the end of the day. Students often run in different directions and join different lines going to daycares, after school programs, buses, or the line of parents out front. Make sure your substitute knows the transition and is prepared for the chaos that is often the end of the day. 

Substitute teachers have chosen this line of work. They are dropped into a different class nearly every day and somehow manage to make the day work without losing students and keeping to the curricular schedule you need to follow so closely. These are the things your substitute teacher really wants you to know. The beginning and end of the day should be well-documented so that the most chaotic times of the day go as smoothly as possible. The substitute needs to know which students are great helpers and which ones need a little extra help. You need to set your substitute up for success with attention-getters that the students are used to. In your plans, leave a schedule and a few notes on the lessons along with the teacher’s editions of the lessons so that your substitute can teach how they are comfortable teaching. Most importantly, trust your substitute teacher. Don’t worry about leaving easy plans, leave what you need done and the substitute will make it happen to the best of their ability. 

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