Surviving a Day of Substitute Teaching at the High School Level

The clock shows 6:15 a.m. and your telephone is ringing. Your local school district is needing a substitute within the high school and you are available! It is now time to flop out of bed, drag yourself to the shower, and start to plan your day. Think positive, this will be a positive experience for you and your soon to be students. This is an exciting time, as you have never been a substitute teacher in the high school building. By taking your knowledge and expertise with you, your day will be a success!

Be sure to scan your closet for some of the most professional pieces of clothing that you own. This is not the time to drag out that hot pink tank top that you so desire to wear- save it for an evening out on the town. For the gals, an a-line skirt paired with a nice blouse will make do on your first day with high school students in the classroom. For the guys, nice dress pants, shirt and tie with a belt. You want to dress your part, not theirs! Do not break out the flip flops or tennis shoes to complete your outfit, a nice wedged shoe or tie shoe will do. Make sure you are put together in a professional way and your professionalism will shine through!

Be on time. This may seem like an odd reminder, but time is of the essence in regards to organizing your day in the classroom a the high school level. If the absence was planned for the classroom teacher, chances are there are lesson plans ready for you. But, if an emergency has came up, you may need some extra time to get a feel for the classes and classroom itself. This is where your flexibility may be tested. We all know that in regards to teaching, flexibility needs to happen on a daily basis in order to meet the needs of the students. It is also of the utmost importance to remember that all students are unique and individual, you will be reminded of that upon entering any high school in the United States today. The teenage years are when several young people like to express themselves through their dress, hygiene, and attitudes. Again, your ability to be flexible will be challenged.

Put the nervousness to the side! If you look nervous, the students will pick up on this right away and your day will be extremely difficult. Upon receiving your room assignment, be sure to ask the building administrator of any specific school rules that you should be aware of. A great example ,” Do all students have open campus?” If you know the answer to this, your students will not be able to bluff their way into an open campus throughout the lunch hour. Remember, you are not hired to be best friends of high school kids; you are hired to educate them and guide them through a successful day at school.

If there is a classroom aide that works within the area you are assigned, he or she can be of great value to you. These classroom aides can fill you in on any information about assignments, personalities of students, and any general information they feel you should need to know. Assignment deadline dates, homework assignments, and classroom expectations can all be addressed through the classroom aide, as well. Use the resources that are available to you.

Appear organized by appearing clean, cut and not carrying any clutter. A nice brief case can compliment your wardrobe. This looks nice to the school administrators as well as the students. Students tend to respect substitute teachers that appear clean cut and organized. If you are not organized, you will spend most of your time trying to find “things” which can take away from precious class time. You will earn the respect of your students upon your first class and you will be off to a successful day as a substitute teacher in your local high school. By being on time, dressing for success, and gaining the respect of the students, you will find yourself being called often to substitute teach. And, we all know, this is how most teachers land that first full time teaching job! You will have sold yourself to the school district as a dependable, respected, and hard working teacher! Good luck as your career in teaching will give you the opportunity to be a positive influence on the lives of many students! A treasure in itself!