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What do Substitute Teachers do?

    A substitute teacher is a person who fills in for an absent regular teacher. They are important to schools because they provide continuity in the classroom, and they allow teachers to take time off when needed.

    What is a Substitute Teacher?

    The role of a substitute teacher is to fill in for an absent regular teacher. Substitute teachers are often hired by schools, but some substitutes teach in private or charter schools as well. Substitutes are important for schools because they provide continuity in the classroom and allow teachers to take time off when needed.

    How to Become a Substitute Teacher?

    Depending on the country and school system, becoming a substitute teacher is sometimes not as easy as it may seem – especially if the requirement is for a qualified substitute teacher. This is because it takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication to become a qualified teacher and a professional substitute teacher at that.

    Substituting can either be viewed as babysitting a class for an absent teacher; or as a chance to educate, knowing how important the difference is that they can make in the lives of students.

    There are many requirements and qualifications that must be met in order to become a substitute teacher. The requirements vary depending on the country, state, or province you live in, but there are some general qualifications that are universal.

    The first requirement is that you must have a high school diploma and be at least 18 years old. Usually, you need to be either a qualified teacher or a trainee teacher with some experience.

    What are the Challenges of Being a Substitute Teacher?

    A substitute teacher is a person who substitutes for the regular teacher, usually on an emergency basis. Often a substitute teacher is viewed as a person who has to “babysit” a class for a short period, but sometimes it is expected for substitute teachers to continue with the class for the rest of the semester or for a prolonged time.

    The challenges of being a substitute teacher in the classroom can be summarized as follows:

    • Lack of familiarity with students and curriculum.
    • Unclear expectations from the teachers.
    • Lack of support from other teachers and administrators.

    What to do when you have no idea

    It’s not uncommon to feel nervous and overwhelmed when you’ve got to take over teaching a class as a substitute teacher. It can be really hard to know what to do and where to start.

    Here are some tips that might be useful for you:

    • Get the lay of the land. Find out where everything is, who your co-workers are, and how the office operates on a day-to-day basis.
    • Ask questions. Your co-workers will be happy to answer them for you.
    • Get acquainted with your workstation – this will help you feel more comfortable if you need to use it in an emergency.

    Substitute Teacher Tips

    Find a mentor or someone who can show you around and answer any questions that pop up along the way.

    • Be prepared emotionally to survive the worst by being calm and friendly, but forceful to dominate the class as your space. Do not be afraid and cower in a corner. Treat the class as a teacher would at the start of a new year. Tell them who you are and what your rules are.
    • Be flexible regarding the situation. Students will test you and attempt to disrupt the class.
    • Be a good listener and observer.
    • Keep your eyes open for areas where you can make improvements as a substitute teacher in the classroom setting, so you can be an even better fit for them when you return to substitute teach again in the future!
    • Try to learn about the curriculum that is being taught in that classroom.


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