Substitute teachers: How to enhance their days in the classroom

Substitute teachers: How to enhance their days in the classroom

Substitute instructors are vital to our youth education. According to a 2008 report by the Canadian Council on Learning, one-fifth of the teacher workforce works in non-permanent positions, and Canadian students will spend at least one full year with a substitute by the time they graduate from high school. It goes without saying that having a great pool of substitute teachers to pick from is extremely important because they need to carry out your institution’s reputation for high quality learning!

Developing a strong substitute teaching pool and helping new graduates gain experience through substitute teaching is an excellent opportunity to ensure that every day in the classroom is a productive one. In this e-news, we provide some ideas for keeping the best-of-the-best, as well as tips you can give to those who may be newer to the profession.

Keeping the best of the best
You have excellent substitute teachers in your pool – individuals that nearly every administrator or teacher requests. You’ll want to ensure that they stay happy and satisfied and aren’t tempted to spend more time in another district!

  • Keep the lines of communication open. If your substitutes have concerns or have had unpleasant experiences, address them in a timely and fair manner.
  • Thank them on Teacher Appreciation days for their willingness to go above-and-beyond with Apple Stress Balls, a small token that says they are appreciated, too.
  • Try to find the best “fit” for your substitute teachers. Don’t place an individual who is best with high schoolers or college-aged students with kindergartners. Be sensitive to personality clashes with administrators or instructors, and keep informational records on both positive and negative incidents that will help with future placements.

Tips for new substitute teachers
You likely have an informational packet you hand out to every new substitute teacher. Getting them started off on the right foot can really help them feel comfortable and confident in their first day with your institution. We’ve pulled together a few ideas that you are welcome to print off or share with them to help them acclimate.

Come prepared

  1. Always arrive early – at least 45 minutes before school begins – and scope out the school campus. It’s important to know where exits are located in case of a fire drill or an emergency, where to guide students for gym or music class, and how to avoid student misdirection to and from restrooms. Additionally, arriving early allows you to prepare the classroom and learn its layout.
  2. Review lesson plans and desk assignments and, if possible, learn students’ names. Students will be less likely to cause mischief if they realize you know who they are and where they sit.
  3. Have a “goodie bag” of sorts. For older students in large classrooms, try Fold Up Fliers, imprinted with your favourite quote or saying, that can be tossed to students who provide insightful answers. Young students would appreciate Flexible Ruler or Crayons imprinted with “Great job!” From bandages to Post-it Notes® to extra pencils, your goodie bag should be stocked with essentials and extras that can be used as rewards, but also as activities should lessons conclude early.

Keep students on task

  1. Start as you mean to go on. From the moment the bell rings, set a tone of confidence and authority. Greet students at the door and announce that as soon as they are seated, they should immediately dive into the activity you’ve featured on the room’s whiteboard.
  2. Keep to the lesson plan. It can be easy to get sidetracked, but focusing on the day’s curriculum you will help you maintain better classroom control.
  3. Make a discipline plan for high school and younger students that is displayed in plain sight. Whether it’s limiting recess time or removal to the principal’s office, offer clear consequences to unacceptable behaviour.

Get connected

  1. Impress the instructor you’re substituting for by cleaning up at day’s end, grading any papers and writing a positive report on the day’s events. Leave that report in a Gator Clip magnet, printed with your contact information, and an explanation that you would be happy to be contacted should the teacher need a substitute again.
  2. On a break during substituting, visit the staff room and office to introduce yourself and say hello. Attempt to make face-to-face contact with full-time teachers and administrators whenever possible.

Your substitute teachers are a valuable and essential asset to your institution! They can make or break a day – ensuring that students either have a great learning experience, or one that leaves spitballs on the ceiling. Take some time to nurture your substitute teaching pool, and you’ll be rewarded for your extra efforts!

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