Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Substitute Teacher Tips

At first I thought being a substitute teacher was going to be a transitional thing. My last job had ended and I wasn't finding anything that I felt was a good fit. I'd been interested in working as a paraprofessional in the local school district and preferred the office-oriented jobs to those actually working with children.

God had other plans. And I'm thankful that He did. Once I found out how easy it was to work as a substitute teacher for that same school district I applied immediately. The hiring process is fairly straight forward, so I was hired quickly. After a very brief orientation, I was ready to start working. Mostly, I planned to use this opportunity to scope out which schools I preferred and to get the inside scoop about upcoming job openings.

Since I'd been a preschool teacher before I became a mom, I felt like I had a grasp on what I was getting involved with as I began my new occupation. (More on that another time.) A family member at one of the schools put in a good word for me and I was least a couple days a week. I've been at it for a year and a half now, in school years. Nowadays, I usually work 4-5 days a week.

Here are some of my best substitute teacher tips -

1. Ask questions. While all the schools in the district are similar, they are also very different. Arrival and dismissal procedures vary. Different principals have different approaches to discipline. Sometimes children can be helpful, but usually its best not to ask them your questions. When possible go to an adult. Generally the staff in the grade where you're working are more than happy to help you out.

2. Take notes. No, I mean it. I used a 2 page per month calendar and wrote down a few words to help me recall what that class, grade level or school was like. It was very helpful later when other sub jobs came up in the system.

3. Give the teachers feedback. I have found that most teachers want to know how the day went while they were out of the classroom. This isn't the time to lay it on thick about the children who gave you a hard time. Believe me, they are well aware of them. Just a short note about any significant issues is sufficient. On the flip side, it's best to focus on the positive components of the day. And if the day went spectacularly, be sure to be very complimentary. Everyone likes to get be encouraged.

4. Make business cards with your contact information on them. Teachers want these. They keep these. Sometimes I leave a few - one for them to keep at school and one for home. One for themselves and one to share with another teacher. At first I made mine on the computer with card stock and cut them with my Fiskars slide cutter. But after a while that got old, so I ordered some very basic cards from VistaPrint. They have my name, email address, phone number, the grade levels I typically work with and the time of day that is best  to text or call me.

I no longer think of subbing as transitional. It's my gig. And I love it!

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