Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Substitute Teaching

Substitute teaching is a job like no other. It requires you to be a fast thinker, good multi-tasker, an excellent discerner of bull crap, and a chameleon that can roll with the punches of any situation. I have been a sub for 15 months, and after being in over 100 classes, 25 schools, and three districts, I’m still no expert but I can certainly offer some essential survival skills.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of perks to subbing, especially if you are a recent college grad!

Pro’s include:

1)       Decent reliable pay: People often asked me with concern “Do you work every day?” Actually yes, yes I do. I have picked up an assignment every single school day that I have wanted to work.

2)      You make your schedule: As a sub you can choose to work every day, some days, half days, whatever.  You pick up assignments as you please and can drop them (within a certain time frame) I went to Chicago for a week in the middle of March and didn’t have to ask for the time off!

3)      Off of work by 3 p.m. sometimes earlier: Need I say more?

Although subbing has it’s perks, I must warn you, it’s a job only for the brave at heart. Being sub is like being thrown into a lion’s den with raw meat strapped to your back. THERE IS NO TRAINING… NONE! Not even an advice pamphlet. Once your fingerprints clear you start.

Con’s include:

1)       Being relentlessly tested by bay-bay students: I’ve been yelled at, laughed at, lied too,  asked really personal questions, and everything else under the sun (try your best not to take it personal).

2)      Everybody and they mama thinks you’re a student (if you’re young): I’ve been hit on by the HS boys, asked if I was the “new girl,” stopped by security, and accused of ditching. Once a boy walked in my class and asked, “Where’s the teacher?” Another student pointed at me, he burst into laughter, and walked out.


So, after reading, if you still think you’re cut out to be a sub follow these DO’s and Don’ts

DO:Establish your authority in classroom within the first five minutes of class. Introduce yourself with confidence, stand up straight, project, look students in the eye and go over the expectations for behavior. Be firm. Leave the teacher a note on behavior.

  • Don’t:Come down like an iron fist. While you should be firm don’t be overly punitive, students, especially older ones, respect those who respect them.

DO:Tell the students about yourself. Show them you’re human and not just some temporary dictator. Smile, share an appropriate story or hobby.

  • Don’t:Answer personal questions. If you give a kid an INCH, they will take a MILE. I once hesitantly answered what type of shaving cream I use. The follow up question was “Do you get bikini waxes?” -_____-

DO:Follow the lesson plan as best as you can.

  • Don’t:Expect for there to be a lesson plan lol

DO:Get in good with the office manager and other teacher’s. If you can find favor with the them  they will request for you and tell you about the best assignments first.

  • Don’t:Join in on the gossip about other employees, especially the principal. Sometimes the teachers’ lounge is more like a blood bath of backstabbing, gossip, and negativity. Don’t get caught up in it!!

DO:Try to relate to the students.

  • Don’t:Create an alter ego as a teenager, make friends and become the popular new girl, and try to re-live your high school yrs (am I weird for that thought popping into my mind once? lol)

As a sub each day is different but you will learn as you go! Leave a comment if you have any questions.

Happy Subbing! 



About Christina Michelle

Christina Michelle is a blogger, special education teacher, and spoken word artist. She loves to write about the joys and misadventures of newlywed life. When shes not writing or teaching, she's exploring new things in the city with her husband and friends.
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6 Responses to Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Substitute Teaching

  1. very very accurate and true!! I enjoyed reading your post! the bikini wax question made me laugh lol


  2. Wendiss Star says:

    I enjoyed this! Your going to be a great teacher and one day a great principal!!


  3. Alex says:

    You betta get it 🙂 This was great baby. I like that you do Pros and Cons for those who are deciding, and then Do’s and Don’ts for those who have already decided to pursue subbing. Very helpful.


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