The Top Ten Things a Good Substitute Wants the Classroom Teacher To Know
1. If there is something special going on at your school the day that I will be there, please let me know. I will dress appropriately for the job, but if everyone is dressed as cowboys and cowgirls, and I’m in professional dress, it will look as I am not on-the-ball. I want, like everyone else, to fit in.
2. Please leave me sub plans or a note or something. I know that in Special Ed. the paras know what is going on, but it helps to have a note from the teacher. At the very least, I would like to be thanked for coming in.
3. Please leave me a little “wiggle” room in the schedule. I am not you and I don’t know the kids and this means that it will take me longer to do most things. Also, it would be nice if I had the opportunity to share something special with your kids. Often times I will have a fun story (age appropriate, of course), brain teasers or some other “fun activity” in my toolbox. Giving me the time to do something with the kids, if they are good, allows me to provide an incentive for them to do what they are supposed to for me.
4. Along with #3, please make sure that I know what privileges I can take away from your students, so that I can implement consequences, if I need to. I don’t like to do this, but sometimes it is necessary to impose consequences because the kids are not behaving. Usually, if I have to do it, they will understand that I am serious and behave.
5. Please make sure that I know who the “go-to” person is, in case I have a problem. I will try to be sensitive to the needs of the kids, but if someone is having an “off day” I won’t know that their behavior isn’t normal.
6. I will do my best to follow your lesson plans, as they are written. But remember, I am not a mind-reader. I don’t know if things are different for your students because you are not there. Please give me some options for extra work in case we finish an activity early. Also, let me know what your priorities are, so if we run long, I can make adjustments to your plans and still cover what you think is most important. And on the same topic, if you usually let your students do something or they are used to doing things a specific way, please let me know. At the very least, tell me what students I can count on to tell me how things are normally done.
7. Please leave the student log-in and password so that I can get on the computer without bothering anyone. I like to check subfinder during the day to see if I can pick up any additional jobs. Also, if I have time while the kids are at specials or I have planning time, I can then use the computer to read the news.
8. Remind your Administrators how important it is to support subs. An Administrator should make an appearance in the classroom early in the day so that the students know that the sub has the support of Administration (this is especially important if you have a difficult class). As a sub, it makes me feel appreciated. And it will only take a minute.
9. If I do a good job, tell your administration, your teammates and the sub office. You don’t know if I am looking for a teaching position; your feedback may help me. If I don’t do a good job, tell the sub office. Maybe there is something that I can do better. I am a professional and take substitute teaching seriously.
10. If you have to cancel a job, please be respectful of my time. I said I would sub for you and I didn’t take any other jobs for that day. If you cancel, I may not be able to find another job for that day. If I have to cancel a job, there are generally lots of subs in the pool looking for work, so hopefully I won’t hang you up.
Most of these things can be done in a few minutes and left in a general letter to all subs coming into your classroom. I want to do a good job and I want the kids to like me. Remember, subbing is a very difficult job, as a sub never knows what to expect when they walk into the classroom. Yes, it is a paying job, but subs don’t get paid as much as teachers do. The Douglas County School District Sub Office told me that a student (K-12) will have subs for the equivalent of one year of their life. Subs make a major impact on students.