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Is Your Classroom Substitute Ready?

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 2/27/2017

Being a substitute is not an easy job. For substitutes to be successful, they must feel confident and professional in the classroom. These seven tips will help you provide an easy transition for teachers, students, and substitutes.

  1. Leave clear lessons. Think carefully about the kind of work you leave. Students should be able to complete their assignments without much teacher input. Also, keep instructions for students with accommodations in a brightly colored folder with your lessons for easy recognition.
  2. Print a class roster. Whether you use a traditional seating chart or flexible seating, a roster with pictures is best. Substitutes can easily tell students apart. Also, consider leaving name tags for students. Mailing labels are cheap and efficient to use.
  3. Have clear expectations. Refresh substitute expectations with students before you are absent and leave them for the substitute. To really help with expectations, print out ATPE’s classroom management strategies for your folder.
  4. Rewards, Rewards, Rewards. Prepare substitutes by leaving different types of rewards. These could include anything you use for your positive behavior system. Consider leaving stickers or even small candies. Students respond to rewards.
  5. FIRE! Remember to include emergency information, relevant policies, and your team teacher’s name. Be sure and convince your team member to pop their head in throughout the day to check on your class.
  6. Spotlight ATPE. ATPE has provided substitute teaching tips on their website. Print these ahead of time for your substitute folder.
  7. Join the team! Leave an ATPE application along with a thank you note to let substitute teachers know they are valued professionals who make a difference in schools. ATPE wants to be their ally and their voice, too!

Rose Kelley is a fourth-grade teacher and model classroom leader in Amarillo ISD, where she has worked for six years. In addition to being named Teacher of the Year for her campus last year, she serves as the Amarillo ATPE vice president.