Substitute Teacher Tips: What to Do If You’re Running Late

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School building

You’re on your way to campus for an assignment, when, suddenly, you hit heavy traffic. After a few minutes of stop and go, you realize that, odds are, you won’t make it to the school site on time.

Although this is the sort of situation you want to plan to avoid, there’s no perfect way to fully account for the unpredictable, especially during the rush-hour commute.

So, what should you do if you’re running late?

Call the School

As soon as you realize that you’re running late, you should immediately place a call to your designated school contact. During that conversation, do your best to apologize rather than making excuses. (If you are subbing with Swing Education, you can find the phone number of the school administrator on the request page.)

When you place the call, let the administrator know what time you expect to arrive, and also consider asking questions like:

  • “Where should I report when I arrive?”
  • “Is there anything else regarding the class I should be aware of?”
  • “Is there anything else I can do to support the school to make up for the time that I’ve already missed?”

If you can’t reach the administrator, we do recommend leaving a message. (If you are a Swing Education substitute teacher and can’t get through to the school, email support@swingeducation.com or call (650) 413-9268, and we’ll get in touch with the school.)

Once You Arrive

Confirm the information the admin told you over the phone, and head to the classroom as soon as possible. If you weren’t able to connect with the administrator over the phone prior to your arrival, then report to the location listed in the request details. (If you didn’t reach the admin over the phone but have a chance to touch base with them after you arrive, it never hurts to reiterate your apology, as well as to ask about ways you can support the school to make up for time missed.)

The Best Solution: Preparation

Although some delays are unavoidable, there are a number of steps you can take to increase the likelihood that you’ll arrive on time.

  • Add the assignment to your calendar as soon as you accept it
  • Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the assignment begins
  • Use a tool like Google Maps’ “Depart At” feature to estimate travel time; rush hour can add substantially to a commute
  • Organize all supplies and set your alarm the night before
  • Consult Google Maps (or a similar tool) before you leave to make sure you select the fastest route; the Waze app is also a helpful option

Get More Substitute Teaching Tips

Check out our blog posts on teaching strategies, including creative ideas to manage tough classrooms, what to do when the lesson plan ends early, and more.

Or, if you’re looking for a new way to substitute teach, get started with Swing Education today!

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