Substitute Teachers: How to Treat A Classroom

flipped_classroomYesterday, I left some suggestions for classroom teachers in what substitutes need. I’m sure there is more to the list, as each classroom and school differs from another.

As I mentioned, Substitutes also have a responsibility, and I’ve heard from teachers and students alike on things that need to be done:

Substitute Teachers

  1. Be on time.
    1. This means, to me, being at least fifteen minutes early to where you are supposed to report (usually the main office).
    2. Dress appropriately.
    3. Ask for a security badge if not given one automatically.
    4. Ask for the Substitute Folder if it is kept in the main office.
      1. Make sure you have CURRENT attendance sheets.
  2. Come prepared with at least one pen: don’t assume any will be left for you.
  3. Get to the room you need to report to and read the lesson plans from start to finish.
    1. Hopefully, the teacher will have left you all material you need with the lesson plan.
    2. If not, round it up/locate it before the students come in.
  4. If the teacher assigns a Study Hall or Individual Reading for that time period:
    1. Do not:
      1. Read the newspaper; text; be on the computer; discuss your personal life; comment on other classes/schools; listen to your own music with ear plugs; etc.
    2. Do:
      1. State you are in charge
        1. They have work to do: do it
      2. Take names if they are disrespectful to you
      3. Keep your calm
  5. Leave the classroom, especially the teacher’s desk/work area, as you found it.
  6. Leave the teacher notes on how the day was: good and not so good behavior.
    1. Don’t leave a novel: just highlights/bullets
    2. Some schools use some sort of feedback system, whether online or paper: follow through on it.
  7. If you are working with any classroom aides or paras: thank them for their help at the end of the class/day.
  8. When students say “..the teacher always lets us…” well, that is up to you and the feel of the kids, but more times than not the teacher does not  let them do whatever they’ve just told you.
    1. Apologize, tell them you have no notes to that effect, and they’ll have to do it your way for today.  Tell them you’ll leave a note for the teacher that you said no. They’ll usually stop at that.

While I have been slumbering, figuring out what to say/do with this blog, someone “liked it’ this morning: rereading it, it gave me a renewed sense of purpose. I am job hunting, and that has taken over most of my concentration. Today I have two interviews, both for Director/Manager of Education position in arts administration. This post already has helped clear some of the cobwebs I’ve laid in my own way. Thanks for the like, Isurrett2.


One of the most disturbing things that I have heard  from a student was:

“Why should I try? I’ll only be working at McDonald’s.”

I was an Artist-in-Residence for a year for a large school district in Westchester County, NY. Still early in my profession, that statement was both a shock and a revelation of a point of view I had never considered before: low expectations given, and projected; leading this student to live  that that is all they can do. The young lady who said that to me was in a ninth grade repeat class. Most of them, I was told much later, were on their THIRD repeat of ninth grade.

Yes: she was a third timer.

It was not that working at McDonald’s is such a negative job, but the expectation of that is all she could expect in life is. There are jobs that many would never…

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