Substitute Teachers: Everything You Need to Know

These are teachers that temporarily replace full-time teachers if they are unable to show up for work. A school can call a substitute teacher for any teaching position. The job may be for a day, a week, or extend to an entire year. This means the substitute teacher needs to continue with the lessons of the full-time teacher and even handle all duties of the absent teacher, if possible. 

This could include bus duty, lunch duty, handling discipline, keeping the class in order while teaching the provided assignment, and grading assignments. Substitute teachers should be ready to teach any class at a moment’s notice. Thus, such teachers act as educational bridges when regular teachers are absent and can often be subjected to a daily adventure with a new audience.

The qualifications required to become a substitute teacher depends on where an individual lives. Some states offer different permits, licenses, certificates, or authorizations for substitute teachers. Others typically demand a bachelor’s degree but sometimes offer ways or waivers to get around the criteria. 

A few states require some orientation or minimal training for their substitute teachers while some others have criteria related to age (must be 18 years to work in a K-8 setting or 21 years for grades 9-12, etc.) and background checks (such as passing a fingerprint check and/or criminal background check).

Unlike what some may believe, substitute teaching isn’t just about stepping inside a classroom and showing a movie. Instead, it takes a lot of preparation for good substitute teachers to arrive prepared in class and hold their students’ attention while keeping them engaged in the learning process. 

In case there are no lessons left behind, substitute teachers need to be flexible and authoritative to design and implement learning activities that test what the students have learned until now. Though substitute teachers may see a group of students just for an hour, they must remain in control of the class as if it’s their daily job.

It’s vital for substitute teachers to be thick skinned as the students are often much tougher on them than their daily teachers. It’ll also help if they have a good sense of humor, and yet be able to exercise control over a class without being intimidating. Typically, an efficient substitute will leave a note for the returning teacher on the assignments that were completed and a few affirmative aspects about the class, in addition to their name and contact number to help the returning get in touch, if needed.

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