Here at theSMARTsub, we care about all teachers, but we have a special place in our hearts for substitute or guest teachers.
As a teacher, I have had several run ins with substitutes in my classroom and I have even stepped in to cover other teacher’s classes so I have experienced both sides of the coin on this topic.
One thing that has a huge impact on the experience for a substitute is classroom management. I am in my second year at my school and I still fine tuning my classroom management skills. Each year, each class, each student, changes the way your handle situations. 8 weeks into the school year and there are some days where I still review procedures over and over and over and over…
But substitute teachers have a disadvantage when they enter into a classroom to cover for a teacher – they have little or no information regarding the students and how the classroom operates. As I stated before, I have been working on my classroom management with my students and there are days where I still struggle. Imagine walking into a classroom without that experience. Many seasoned subs have their own bag of tricks, but what about those new guest teachers who are still learning or entering into a new school for the first time?
The district I work in is in dire need of regular classroom teachers, let alone substitutes. One particular day that I took off, I knew I had a substitute who was fairly inexperienced and new to my school. Because of this, I left detailed plans in order to help him as much as possible while my students still would be learning.
When I returned the next day, I was in for a huge surprise. My room was trashed. A hurricane could have gone through and done less damage. As if that wasn’t bad enough, my principal had spent the day in my classroom teaching my lessons after a student had been sent to the ER for splitting his head open and the substitute had a break down during 2nd grade.
A teacher’s worst nightmare.
I confronted my students about the situation. We discussed why they would have done so and when I asked the question “why did we chose not to follow the class rules” one student responded with “he didn’t make us”.
I am not saying it is his fault because honestly, there are no programs to train subs like there are to train teachers, but students can sense a lack of confidence and they will attack.
That being said, when I have stepped into another teacher’s classroom to cover their absence I have had similar experiences. The only difference is that I do know the students so while I may not know that specific class’ set of rules, I still have a rapport with them. There have been times when I have lost control during an activity and then the day went spiraling downward. I’ve had to leave notes that said “sorry!” with a candy bar because I wasn’t managing the class the right way. If you’ve ever subbed, you know how hard it is so I cannot blame others for struggling.
That being said, I’ve researched a little on what to do regarding substitute teachers. Now when I step into a classroom I’m unfamiliar with, I have a better idea of how to handle things. One of my favorite articles that has some great tips is Classroom Management Tips For Substitute Teachers. Even if you are a classroom teacher, check it out. There may be something new for you to discover.
Here are some main points that the staff here at theSMARTsub thinks it will be helpful to remember:
- have confidence – act the part, they’ll follow suit
- don’t let discipline issues slide – it’s easier to start stricter and then loosen up than vice versa
- ask questions – not sure what to do then ask, someone will be willing to help
- keep tricks up your sleeve – if the class finished an assignment early have something ready to keep the working, even if it is an educational game
- breathe – take a deep breath, it will definitely help
– Kiri, staff writer