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What to expect in your first year of substitute teaching

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Walking into a classroom full of unfamiliar faces and taking on the responsibility of educating and managing students can feel overwhelming, however with the right mindset and tools, substitute teaching can be a rewarding experience.

To ensure you feel confident throughout your first year, here’s what you need to know to succeed. 

Be open to change

Flexibility is the key to surviving and thriving as a substitute teacher. You’ll need to be ready to adjust your teaching style and lesson plans to suit the needs of each class and grade level. Sometimes, you might step into a classroom with a detailed lesson plan left by the regular teacher, while other times, you’ll have to improvise on the spot. Be open to change and think on your feet; it will serve you well in this role.

Build relationships

Substitute teaching provides a unique opportunity to learn from experienced educators. Take note of the teaching techniques and strategies that you observe during your assignments. Every teacher has their own style, and by observing others, you can gain valuable insights into what works best for different types of learners.

Establishing connections with students is just as crucial, even if you are only with them for a day. Building positive relationships can help create a productive learning environment and make classroom management a bit less stressful. Some classes will be well-behaved and cooperative, while others may present more disciplinary issues. It’s essential to set clear expectations from the beginning and maintain a respectful, yet firm, approach. Take the time to learn students’ names and show genuine interest in their lives and education. A smile and a kind word can go a long way in making students feel comfortable and engaged.

Embrace the unexpected

In a classroom setting, you never know what you’re going to be dealt. You might encounter technology malfunctions, unexpected visitors, or even sudden schedule changes. Embrace these moments as opportunities to demonstrate your adaptability and problem-solving skills. The more you can stay calm and composed in unpredictable situations, the more students will look up to you as a reliable figure.

Patience is a virtue in the world of substitute teaching. Some days will be more challenging than others, and you may not always see immediate results from your efforts. Stay resilient, remain positive, and remember that each day presents a new chance to make a difference in the lives of your students.

Your first year as a substitute teacher will be a learning experience, and you’ll make mistakes along the way – that’s perfectly normal. Embrace the diverse challenges and opportunities that come your way, and use them to grow both personally and professionally. 

what a typical day looks like for a substitute teacher cta