Substitute teaching can be difficult, especially when you don’t know the children and you are moving around to different classes and even different schools on a daily basis. Yet, as a substitute teacher, there are a few things you can do to make substituting easier for yourself when teaching on the elementary school level.
Learn the regular teacher’s discipline method
When a certain discipline procedure has been ingrained into the children’s heads, that’s what they’ll respond to. Usually, teachers will leave this in their lesson plans or it will be posted somewhere in the classroom. If not, there’s probably a trustworthy student who can tell you how the teacher handles discipline. This is especially important in lower elementary school, where the children respond well to routine. If the teacher gives them a warning, give them the warning. If the teacher has them change a dot or write their name on the board, do that. If the class has a lot of students who act up, make sure you begin early with the discipline procedure. That way the class knows you mean business and that you are not afraid to discipline. If you set this up early in the day, you are less likely to encounter a problem later in the day.
You are not going to teach exactly like their teacher. Don’t be afraid to do things your own way as long as what needs to be accomplished is accomplished. Trying to do things exactly the way their teacher does is just going to be confusing for you and make the day more difficult for everyone involved.
Get there early
Read over the lesson plans and be familiar with them before the kids arrive- Make sure you know what you are doing and where any books, worksheet, or other supplies can be found. Sometimes teachers will have more on their lesson plans than they expect you to accomplish. This is so you won’t have extra time for the kids to be bored. This is helpful. Make sure, though, that you understand which items are priorities and which items are just extra things to do if you have extra time.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Teachers will often list another teacher who can help you if you need help finding supplies or with the discipline of a certain student. Don’t be afraid to ask that teacher for help. Also, sometimes the teacher will list students who can help you if you need help. Ask those kids for help if you need it. The book you need to teach English and you searched all recess to find might have been easier to find if you’d asked the teacher’s helper where it is put. If the teacher doesn’t list a teacher who can help you, often the teacher next door can still be of help. If the teacher doesn’t list a student or students who can help you, you can still usually pretty early on tell which students are the most helpful.
Don’t be afraid to call the office and have a student removed if he or she will not listen. Often just the one student leaving the classroom will help the class atmosphere. A lot of times, if the students does come back, he or she will be better behaved after spending time in the office. Don’t feel like it is admitting that you don’t know how to handle the class. There are certain students who just have no respect for a substitute teacher, and that these students will act up no matter who’s the substitute. Don’t call the office for every little problem, but if it has become a huge problem, don’t be afraid to contact someone in the office to deal with it.
If you say you’ll do something, do it. For example, if you say that that the next person who talks without raising his or her hand will stay in for recess, make the student stay in for recess. If you say the next time a certain child acts up, you’re calling the office, do it. If you say you’ll leave the note for the teacher of the best kids in the class do that too. The good students will appreciate this. Seeing that you will follow through with what you said helps the kids see that there’s a line that they don’t want to cross if they want to stay on your good side and stay out of trouble.
Leave a note
Tell the teacher what you accomplished and what you didn’t accomplish. Let the teacher know about any behavior problems. Mention specific names when you mention the problems. Write in the note who was especially good. If you had one of the best classes you’ve ever taught, let the teacher know. Teachers like to know that their class was good, and not just from the students who will often claim they were good no matter what. Many teachers also like you to leave a phone number where they can reach you if they have any questions about the day.