Search form

About The Blogger

Les Potter's picture
Les Potter is currently the Assistant to the Superintendent (Educational Services Overseas Limited) in Egypt. He received his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Les has over 45 years...
Back to Blog

Preparing the Substitute Teacher

As a former secondary principal, a good substitute teacher was worth their weight in gold. At some schools you might have the luxury of hiring full time subs that come in everyday and are placed in classes where they are needed. However, many schools still use the time tested daily call in subs.
 
Many subs in my experience prefer the short term assignment. This way they just follow the teachers' lesson plans and are not responsible for grading assignments, creating lesson plans, developing tests and activities, etc. Essentially they were asked to be the teacher for an extended period of time to cover long term illness, pregnancies, etc. You are asking the sub to be the teacher for a lot less salary. If possible, if you have a long term sub assignment I would suggest having the district increase the sub salary to compensate for the increased workload. If not, you may find it difficult to hire long term subs. We were able to work with a local college and hire graduating teacher majors who were not able to find a full time teacher position at that time. You might have to be creative as well to fill your needs.
 
But with any substitute teacher they need to be prepared to enter the classroom effectively. Any substitute teacher candidate we wanted to use, had to be interviewed and screened by the district and the school. We treated the process the same as if we were hiring a full time teacher.
 
Once the sub teacher was approved for hiring, we then created a packet of information about the school, school and classroom rules, bell and lunch schedule, school duties, teacher expectations, long term sub plans, school map, calendar, etc. anything that a new substitute teacher would need to know. Then we would have the sub come in to observe different classes: core classes, PE, special education, etc. for a couple of days. Prior to them actually taking the class for themselves.
 
We also checked with the sub, if they had a preference in their assignments. Did they prefer core classes, your specials, or what they did not want to teach---math, PE, etc.? We tried to honor their requests to give them every chance of success.
 
We would take the sub on a tour of the campus and invite them to any school activities that they might enjoy. We tried to treat them as we would a new full time teacher.
 
We would assign the sub to an assistant principal who would assist the sub as needed. The assistant principal would go visit the class several times a day to make sure everything was going OK. We would also introduce the sub to different department chairs to be their go to contacts. We spent a lot of time discussing how to handle unruly and misbehaving students. As most of us know, some students look forward to sub days.
 
When a sub was needed and arrived at school they knew where to report to get their assignment and lesson plans. We would walk them to their classroom and welcome them to their temporary home. At the end of the first few days we would meet in an office to review their day. What went right, what did not, and what could they have done differently. If the issues were significant, then we would assign an assistant principal to sit in for the most troublesome classes.
 
My advice is to prepare the sub as you would a new teacher. Substitutes are very valuable assets to your school so prepare them as best as possible.
 
If the sub did not work out with us, we would tell the sub and the district office and the sub was not allowed to come back to work at our particular school.
 
Dr. Les Potter
Assistant to the Superintendent
The American  International School West
Cairo Egypt