How Can A Substitute Teacher Shine? 10 Best Tips For Every Sub!

In the bustling world of education, where dedicated teachers inspire the young minds of tomorrow, an unsung hero emerges – the substitute teacher.

Often stepping into the spotlight unexpectedly, armed with nothing but a name on a roll call and a classroom full of curious faces, these versatile educators possess a unique opportunity to shine bright amidst the unpredictability.

Now, how can a substitute teacher shine?

becoming a better substitute teacher

So what makes a substitute teacher stand out from the crowd and how can you become a great substitute teacher?

Every year, thousands of teachers leave the profession over a lack of respect, low pay, and stress. The substitute teacher role is the one that takes the rising number of vacancies left behind.

As a substitute teacher, you will bear the brunt of the teacher shortage and are expected to be a jack of all trades. You will be at the center of the classroom and you will have to handle everything from bell-ringing to maintaining discipline and ensuring that students are being educated.

Being a substitute teacher is a tough job. You often only get a few hours notice to get to a school, get classroom management up to speed, and teach a class for a full day.

Substitute teachers are a crucial component of the teaching and learning ecosystem. They fill in for teachers on short notice and bring their own expertise in the subject.

While the role of a substitute teacher might seem temporary, the impact they leave on students can be everlasting. In this blog post, we embark on an exciting journey to explore the art of substitute teaching, uncovering valuable tips and strategies that will empower these educational chameleons to not only survive but truly thrive in the classroom, leaving an indelible mark on every student they encounter.

So, prepare to delve into the secrets of how a substitute teacher can effortlessly transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, as we unlock the power to illuminate young minds and embrace the joy of learning together!

Here are some tips that can help you make the most out of your substitute teaching job.

What is a substitute teacher?

A substitute teacher is a person who is hired to teach in place of a regular teacher. Substitute teachers are typically used on a short-term basis when a regular teacher is absent for a day or two.

However, some school districts may hire substitute teachers to fill in long-term vacancies. Substitute teachers must be highly qualified, and they must be able to manage a classroom and keep students on track.

As a professional educator, a substitute teacher is licensed and is qualified to fill in for a regular teacher on a given day or for an extended period of time.

In situations involving emergencies, personal or sick leave, and other crises, substitute teachers are frequently required.  They craft and carry out lesson plans the way a regular teacher does. Likewise, substitute teachers can use the regular teacher’s resources and materials to execute the lessons.

Maintaining discipline and student productivity while causing the least amount of disruption is the responsibility of the substitute

How Can You Shine as a Substitute Teacher?

1. Make the most of your time

With many teachers absent each year, a substitute teacher like you is of great help. Hence, you should make the most of your time by contributing your expertise in the teaching field.

The classroom should be your primary environment for engagement where students are actively involved in the learning process and making the most of their time as well.

2. Teach from a prepared lesson plan

You should prepare your lesson plans religiously. That’s what the absent teacher does.  Make a plan for interactive activities. Be flexible.

With your plan, you can surely thrive during your assigned days as a substitute teacher. There can be activities in the classroom or situations that may disrupt the flow of your lesson. Therefore, with your well-prepared lesson plan, we know you can do your best.


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3. Get to know the students in your class and use the first name of your students

Learning can be more meaningful when you know your students well. Design fun and exciting getting-to-know activities on the first day and see how your students get excited to also know about you.

Moreover, when you know your students, not just their names, you get into their world of interests which can help you craft your instructional materials and your pedagogy. Thus, you can be more effective in addressing their needs.

4. Mind punctuality at all times

Be early, not just on the first day but every school day. Here, punctuality could also mean being on time in submitting needed reports like students’ grades, anecdotal records, etc.

Time management is an important aspect of teaching. It entails the maximum of your time to project productivity. When you’re early in going to school, you can set the classroom before the students arrive and you can prepare the instructional materials needed.

Also, in the submission of the needed reports, you need to be mindful of the deadline as it can also affect the standing and performance of the absent teacher. Even though you won’t be in that particular school for so long, your performance leaves an impact for the entire school year.

5. Build positive relationships

Relationships are one of the most critical aspects of learning.  The relationship you have with your students can be the difference between a good year and a bad year. It can make or break student academic performance and your teaching experience as a substitute.

Being there even for just a short period of time is a beautiful opportunity to create memories with the students that can make them remember you as their substitute teacher.

Treat them like your own and inspire them to achieve their potential. Appreciate their worth and be a second parent to them. Listen to them and let them say their piece. With the beautiful bond you establish, learning can become engaging which can keep students coming to class day after day.

6. Leave constructive feedback

You can play a defining role in your student’s life by leaving constructive feedback. They must know how they perform and in what way can they improve their capacities.

As a substitute teacher, you can be an additional figure who can shape a child’s future.  When a student faces any type of difficulty in his studies, it is your responsibility to provide positive or constructive feedback to the student.

Normally, students get frustrated with their studies as they do not pay attention to achieving good grades by learning from their mistakes. But if you are able to provide positive or constructive feedback to students then they will get the confidence to face their next upcoming test or future endeavor.

7. Get to know and interact with your colleagues

You are now part of the school staff. Therefore, you should reach out not just to the absent teachers but also to your superiors and co-teachers. Positive connections always breed respect and trust.

Although being in a new workplace is challenging, as you have to get along well with others in order to thrive and perform at your best, you can still kick that feeling of awkw3ardness and intimidation out of the door. Be polite and ask for assistance when needed.

Say everything in a manner and always show respect. It can help you to get along well and work together with your co-teachers. More oftentimes, collegial relationships entail being open-minded and being ready to collaborate.

8. Grade any work of your students

Don’t leave any student output unmarked. It can be so upsetting on the part of the absent teacher. Moreover, your class record should be turned over with grace.

You can share with the absent teacher how well the students performed, what went well, and what went wrong. In this way, the absent teacher can provide reinforcement and can follow your track as well.

While you’re on duty, you should keep a good and clear record of students’ scores and performances. Include in your documents the rubrics you used and the list of competencies and tasks.

9. Communicate with the absent teacher effectively

It’s beneficial to both of you. You and the absent teacher should communicate effectively either personally or using online platforms.

Furthermore, you can leave detailed notes about what transpired in the classroom or about the class. Also, you should include a report on the advancement or improvement of the students.

Accomplish a thorough report of student performance especially those with difficulties and needs.  Any students encountering difficulties should be noted. Use their name, be detailed, and mention the precise concepts or topics they were having trouble with.

Discuss any behavioral challenges, interpersonal problems, or worries you may have. This information will be much valued by returning instructors.

10. End the day well

As you began it well, you should likewise end it well. You can plan for closing activities or culminating tasks with your students to leave a positive impact and create meaningful bonds.

The last day can be filled with tears as students might miss you. But always assure them that they can achieve well with any teacher.

It’s expected that some will be sad as your duty as a substitute ends, but your inspiring words can make your students study and thrive more. Make them excited to welcome back their original teacher.

Add to your sub bag wonderful creations of your students and meaningful memories with them.

>> For more subbing experiences and tips, watch this video and give color to your teaching story.


If you have patience, compassion for teaching, and a desire to help others, you could be a substitute teacher.

If you’re a substitute teacher, you know the importance of having a successful day, even if you’re only filling in for one day. Your success as a substitute teacher can have a positive impact on the regular classroom teacher, the students, and the overall school environment.

We hope you enjoyed our article on how to shine as a substitute teacher. We know that being a substitute teacher can be a difficult challenge, but with the right tools, you can make it easier.

By following the tips and tricks we’ve outlined in this blog, we’re sure you’ll be able to make your substitute teaching job a rewarding one.

Feel free to express your ideas. Do share your feedback in the comment box below.