Advice for the New Substitute Teacher

2406657961_2803a9dfe1_o-245x180 I know a number of you following my blog are recent teacher graduates and about to embark on the journey of being a substitute teacher or Teacher on Call.  Like so many, I also started off as a substitute teacher. Here is some advice for those of you starting out:


  1. Have business cards handy. There is often a sign in book in the front office and I use to leave my card with the secretary or with the teacher I was substitute teaching for. Other substitute teachers I know pop their cards into teachers’ mailboxes at the end of the day. What should you put on your card? I would start off with your name, telephone number, email address, specialties, and if you have a website include this. If you are tech person, you may even want to put a QR code in place of your “website URL.”  Business cards can be created a number of ways.  You don’t have to break the bank to do it.  Please see below for some options:
  2. At the end of the day, I usually left a note for the teacher on my own personal stationary (i.e. header with my name, email address and contact information).  It is simple to do by pre-creating this stationary in Word and then photocopying or printing a few sheets and bringing it with you to your sub job. If the teacher loses your business card, there is always your personal stationary around to aid them if they want to contact you again.
  3. Bring your updated resume with you. You never know when you will get a chance to speak with the principal or assistant principal in the school. It is always a good idea to be prepared.
  4. I often had games in my bag (i.e. a ball, Mad libs, picture books, etc.).  There are times when the plans the teacher has made do not fill the time.
  5. Bring a whistle. You never know what you will be asked to teach. I was always glad when I had to teach PE and I had my whistle handy.
  6. Bring a notebook with you. Substitute teaching is awesome especially for new teachers since you get a chance to learn.  I always wrote down the many teaching ideas I got in my notebook. It will be helpful when you have your own classroom in the future.
  7. Get to know the layout of the school (i.e. washrooms etc) and emergency plans (i.e. exits, fire drill routines, lockdown procedures etc.).
  8. Introduce yourself to the neighbouring teacher.  You never know when you will need something and they will be able to provide you with the answers.
  9. Arrive early. It gives the principal and staff a positive image of you.
  10. Enjoy it! It’s a great opportunity to practice your classroom management on the fly and experience a variety of different teaching settings.