Reflections on Substitute Teaching #1

I have now spent 5 days in different classroom settings as a substitute teacher.  Within the first two days I had already noticed that certain things I was doing were not working.  So I thought I would share my mistakes with you!  And some of what I started to do the next three days to adjust myself.

wheatley pink

Between the 6th grade Social Studies classes, the 6-8th grade Math and Technology class, the 8th grade regular English class, the 9th and 10th grade Honors English Classes, and the Basic Reading and Writing class, I have already learned so much!


Yelling does not work.  The first time you raise your voice over the student’s voices, they begin to realize that you are willing to be loud, so hey, they can too!

  • I tried clapping to get attention in the middle school classrooms; it seemed to work for about 60% of the students.
  • For the high school classes, I began to stand very still in the front of the classroom with a smile on my face, looking around at various students.  The students that I pinpointed would hush their neighbors.
  • Also, one teacher left instructions to the effect of… If they behave, they will not have homework; If they are loud and rambunctious, they will have a written assignment for homework… mentioning that if they would not quiet down they would receive an extra assignment quieted them down


Water and Bathroom Breaks

Do not drink too much because the chances to go to the restroom are few and far between!

  • I don’t need to say anything else about this, do I?



Wear the comfortable ones.

  • No matter how much those heels compliment your outfit and make your legs look great, wear the comfortable classics.  Your feet will thank you.
  • Keep a few Band-Aids on hand anyway.


Giving Instructions

I like to walk when I talk, and I noticed right off that the students were paying more attention to tracking where I was in the room than to the instructions pertaining to their assignment.

  • I began making sure that I was standing still at the front and center of the classroom while giving the instructions for the assignment.  There is plenty of time to patrol the room and check on the kids during the class period.


Patrolling the Room

This cuts down on secretive slacking.  By walking around the classroom and asking if the students have any questions about the assignment, checking to see how far along they are lets you know who is actually doing their assignment.  It also lets you know who is attempting to text their best friend, who is staring off into space, and who is reading a comic book.

  • I noticed that some of the students would not immediately start on their assignment, but by asking them pointed questions about where they were on their work, they would work for at least a little while.
  • Just make sure to patrol at a casual speed.   Do not add extra nervous energy to the classroom by whipping through the classroom like a tornado.


Organized Teachers

Be thankful when you substitute teach for an organized teacher!

  • Having everything laid out on a clean desk when you get there makes starting the day SO much easier!
  • These organized teachers will sometimes give you seating charts, that way you can call the students by name and you will be able to leave pertinent comments about behavior for the teacher.


Teaching Teammates

Befriend them.  Say hello to as many of them as you can!

  • Double check the daily procedures (bathroom break times, locker times, how many hall passes are the students allowed, etc.)
  • Remember, the teaching teammates will have passwords for the computers in case your teacher has left a PowerPoint slideshow or projection to put up.



I was way to early every single day because I was terrified that I would be late.  Four out of five days, I arrived before the office staff was there or ready to check me in.

  • Make sure to bring a book or some homework of your own.  If you are super early like me, and if you get a planning period during the day, have something to keep from getting bored and wasting time.


Have Fun

Have fun with it!  This is your chance to see as many classrooms as possible.  Check out each how each teacher organizes papers, classroom management ideas, lesson plans, and even the layout of the desks.  Substitute teaching is a wonderful way to gain experience and ideas that you can implement in your own class room!  I cannot wait!


Thus ends my reflections on my first five days of substitute teaching!  Please feel free to leave a comment or advice!  Thank you so much for stopping by to read my blog!

Ms. Turner

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