Five Real-World Examples of Substitute Teacher Success

Janine ChenClassroom Management, Teaching Strategies2 Comments

At Swing Education, we work closely with administrators from our 1,000-plus partner schools to ensure that our substitute teachers deliver the sort of high-quality instruction students need to succeed.

Over the years, we’ve gotten plenty of feedback from our partners about what makes our best substitute teachers so successful, and we’ve found that they have a few qualities in common.

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They Were Punctual

This is one we hear a lot. It may seem obvious, but arriving to assignments on time (or even a few minutes early) sets the tone for a successful substitute teacher day, and school administrators always appreciate it.

Here’s a report we received from a school last spring:

“Extremely punctual, (The substitute teacher) came 20 minutes early which was great, especially since it was a last-minute request. Thank you!”

And this from a school last winter:

“(The substitute teacher) was great. He stayed later to give the teacher a detailed sub report and was here on time.”

They Followed the Lesson Plan and Took Notes

Schools spend countless hours planning and designing lesson plans for the year. We often hear how much administrators and full-time teachers appreciate substitute teachers who closely follow the day’s plans — and report back on the day’s happenings.

We received this report from a school last fall:

“(The substitute teacher) was very responsive and followed all directions! We are happy to have her back.”

And this from a school last spring:

“I love how (the substitute teacher) ensured that the students completed the work that the teacher left for them to do. She arrived on time and was professional. We will invite her to come back.”

And this from a school last winter:

“The class was organized, notes were great, and the class had a good day! The sub was amazing!”

They Had a Positive Attitude

Teaching in a new school with new students and new curriculum can be stressful, but schools frequently report how a positive attitude can help substitute teachers connect with their students and impress colleagues.

We received this report from a school earlier this month:

“(The substitute) has a calm, warm presence that also demands attention. Our seventh and eighth graders liked her a lot and also felt that she was effective in helping students when they were confused or had questions.”

And this from a school last spring:

“(The substitute) was such a light on our campus. She had a constant smile on her face and was VERY helpful with our class.”

They Were Flexible

The unexpected can happen at even the most organized schools. When things don’t go as planned, schools appreciate substitute teachers who can adjust on the fly.

We received this report from a school last spring:

“I just received the nicest phone call from my coworker saying my sub was amazing. She was organized and capable of being flexible when something didn’t work. Apparently our school copier was down and she came to her to make copies at lunch. It’s good to know my kids are in safe hands when you wake up and unexpectedly (come down with a cold). Thank you.”

And this from a school, also last spring:

“(The substitute teacher) was one of the most amazing subs we have ever had for fifth grade. He had energy, he had enthusiasm, he was flexible and switched things around to accommodate us! He pulled out a small reading group and the students went with him easily — he kept kids on their toes and was able to relate with them.”

They Had Strong Classroom Management Skills

Ensuring that class runs smoothly can be challenging for any teacher, let alone a substitute new to the school and students. But we often hear from schools who enjoy working with substitute teachers who successfully manage the classroom environment.

We received this report from a school last winter:

“(The substitute teacher) had great classroom management. Difficult classes respect him and I know that if I am out, my kids are in good hands and I wont return to chaos and a mess.”

“And this from a school over the summer:

“The administration team was impressed with classroom management. Upon return, they stated the lesson plan was followed as indicated.”

Get More Teaching Tips

Want to sharpen your classroom skills? Check out our resource center, which is full of tips to help you succeed on your next substitute teaching assignment.

About the Author

As the VP of Talent at Swing Education, Janine Chen leads a dedicated team that helps our substitute teachers succeed. Janine has spent her entire career in education, including positions with schools and non-profits. She is an alumna of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


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