50 Classroom Management Tips for Substitute Teachers in 2020
Substitute teachers play a fleeting yet vital role in every school system: they maintain continuity and uphold a teacher’s classroom values. Still, even the most skilled substitute teachers can struggle with classroom management at times; that uphill climb is made easier with the help of these 50 tips.
1.Forge Connections with Students Quickly – Greet students as they enter the classroom and use their reactions as a litmus test to understand their attitudes toward you from the outset.
2.Don’t Show Signs of Weakness – Older students, in particular, can smell fear like blood in the water, so even if you’re feeling anxious, don’t let it show.
3.Act like An Authority Figure – On average, students will collectively spend an entire school year with substitute teachers between kindergarten and 12th grade, so don’t ever feel like you lack authority.
4.Don’t Let Discipline Start to Slip – Give an inch and students will take a mile, so correct unruly behavior as soon as it starts rather than waiting until it becomes more serious.
5.Downplay Confrontation – Just like anyone else, students like attention. If a confrontation breaks out in the classroom, nip it in the bud and move on rather than making a scene.
6.Be Kind and Encouraging – Proper classroom management is a system of checks and balances, which means praising good behavior just as much as condemning poor behavior.
7.Hold Students’ Attention – By keeping students engaged, substitute teachers can increase their focus, encourage them to utilize critical thinking skills, and help them retain information.
8.Don’t Be Afraid to Write Referrals – When push comes to shove, substitute teachers have to punish excessively unruly behavior in order to effectively manage a classroom.
9.Maintain The Teacher’s Rules – Continuity is important for students’ mentality toward substitute teachers, so you should try to follow the same rules at the teacher for whom you’re filling in.
10.Follow Through on Threats – Empty Threats, just like empty promises, lead to substitute teachers losing students’ respect. If you say you’ll write a student up if they have another outburst, make sure you follow through.
11.Communicate Your Expectations for Behavior – Clearly outlining what you expectfrom students gives them the tools to meet those expectations and saves you continuous explanation later on in class.
12.Beware of Too Much Technology – Different schools have different phone policies, but the bottom line is that if a substitute feels that technology is interfering with learning, they’re well within their rights to have students put their phones away for the remainder of the class.
13.Don’tDownplay Your Power as A Substitute – The moment a substitute teacher begins doubting themself, students capitalize on that doubt. You may not be a permanent fixture in the classroom, but you have all the same authority.
14.Never Lose Your Temper – Just as a substitute teacher should avoid looking like a doormat, they should also never allow themselves an unprofessional outburst in the classroom.
15.Create Your Own Emergency Lesson Plan – In a perfect world, teachers would always leave their substitutes with alesson plan, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Have your own lesson plan tucked away in case you need it.
16.Take Note of Timing – Teacher absences are about10% more likelyon Fridays than any other day of the week; students have a similarly hard time focusing right before the weekend, so extra work to keep them engaged may be necessary.
17.Stay on Task – Certain students are master manipulators that can alwaysfind some method to derail the lesson plan. Effectively managing a classroom means staying on track despite students’ best efforts to waste time.
18.Try to Locate A Trustworthy Student – If you’ve never substituted for a particular teacher before, you may not know their classroom rules. Try to seek the help of a trustworthy student who can honestly tell you how things are generally run.
19.Be Honest with Yourself and Your Students – Substitute teachers are required to fill many different voids, and even the most skilled Renaissance Man is bound to have a few weak spots. If you’re unskilled at Algebra or aren’t very good at dissecting British Literature, simply be honest with the students and try your best.
20.Leave A Note for The Teacher – If behavior is a consistent issue throughout the class, make sure that the regular teacher is alerted to the problem upon their return so they can manage it however they see fit.
21.Be as Engaging as Possible – Beyond simply keeping students busy with work, it’s important to maintain charisma to ensure they stay interested in what you have to say.
22.Consider The Age Group – Most substitutes fill in for a specific age bracket on a regular basis. If you substitute teach in elementary classrooms, you can develop fun group methods for bringing attention back to yourself. If your work in older classrooms, don’t try anything too juvenile or the students will feel infantilized.
23.Always Have A Backup Plan – It’s simply notpossible to develop an emergency lesson plan for every subject, so substitute teachers should also make a habit of collecting activities that are tangentially related to a wide range of subjects.
24.Don’t Be Afraid to Switch Things Up – Though you want to keep things as consistent as possible for the students’ sake, it’s okay if your classroom management methods differ from the regular teacher’s, too.
25.Bring Your Personality to The Table – Substitute teachers sometimes feel that because they may never teach a class again, they don’t need to make an effort to let their personalities shine. Children of all ages appreciate individuality, so it can actually be an excellent tool in the classroom.
26.Ask for Help If You Need It – Other teachers are always willing to lend a helping hand when a substitute needs it, so consider them a trusted resource built into the school.
27.Learn Students’ Names – articularly if a substitute will be with a class for more than one day, it’s vitally important to learn individuals’ names as it makes them feel more accountable for their behavior.
28.Don’t Waver in Your Resolve – Once a substitute teacher has taken a stance on classroom management, that stance shouldn’t be second-guessed or it might be seen as a sign of weakness.
29.Offer Correction Rather Than Scolding – When a student misbehaves or fails to conform to a substitute’sclass rules, explaining how they ought to behavein the future is much more effective than simply scolding them.
30.Own Up to Your Own Mistakes – Substitute teachers are only human, and if you make a mistake calculating an answer or misspell a word written on the board, owning up to that mistake will set a valuable precedent for students to follow.
31.Don’t Try to Be A Friend – There’s a difference between being liked and being respected, and while every substitute teacher wants their students to both like and respect them, the latter is more important than the former.
32.Familiarize Yourself with School Policies – The best way to maintain consistency for students is to familiarize yourself with the school’s rules before the day begins and enforce them to the best of your ability.
33.Take Advice from Other Teachers – If a full-time teacher approaches a substitute in the break room and imbues wisdom, it’s to help rather than nag. Always be grateful for insight from fellow teachers, and use it in the classroom.
34.Know Your Limits – There are some teachers for whom you might choose not to substitute in the future simply because your classroom management styles differ so much that it’s difficult for both you and the students to adjust.
35.Expect Disruptions – You can’t train children out of being children, only growth can do that. In turn, always be prepared for a disruption to break out at any moment.
36.Stay Consistent With Your Policies – Only set rules that you’re prepared to enforce every time you return to a classroom, because consistency is one of the most important factorsin classroom management.
37.Never Show Favoritism – You might feel a natural kinship with certain students more so than others, but substitute teachers should never let that feeling show, and they should certainly never bend the rules for their favorite students.
38.Plan Disciplinary Recourse Before It Becomes Necessary – The phrase “expect the best, prepare for the worst” is especially relevant in classroom management for substitute teachers. Have a plan for handling every possible situation before it arises.
39.Don’t Shy Away from Fun – Maintaining order doesn’t have to mean being steely and callous. In fact, students will respond more positively to an environment in which they’re enjoying themselves while they learn.
40.Set High Standards for Performance – A class will always rise to thestandards of the teacher, and if those standards are low, that’s the level of behavior a substitute teacher can expect, so aim for the stars.
41.Offer Rewards for Various Benchmarks of Success – Just as a substitute should clearly outline behavioral rules, they should express which behaviors will earn students special rewards.
42.Treat The Class as If You Were Going to Teach It – Everyday Sometimes it’s hard to offer 100% effort to each class you teach, but students will respect a substitute that’s making an effort much more than one who clearly doesn’t care.
43.Maintain Enthusiasm – It’s a psychological fact that humans tend to mirror the personalitiesof those they’re around. If a substitute teacher expresses excitement for the day, students are more likely to follow suit.
44.Don’t Put Up Walls – Vulnerability encourages connection, so although substitutes should be wary of showing weakness, they should also make sure that they still appear human to students.
45.Stay Authentic to Who You Are – Children of all ages are generally quite discerning in terms of character, and they’ll respect a substitute who doesn’t put on airs much more than one whose character is merely an affectation.
46.Be as Understanding as You Can -If you have never substituted for a particular class before, you don’t know the personal situations that could be affecting their behavior. Try to offer compassion or understanding without compromising on your rules.
47.Always Offer an Explanation – If you have to exact some type of punishment during your time as a substitute teacher, make sure the entire class understands precisely what behaviors led to that punishment so they can be avoided in the future.
48.Take Student Assurances with A Grain of Salt – Just because a class assures a substitute that they are always allowed to use their phones on Fridays, or that they didn’t have any homework due doesn’t make it true. Always trust a teacher’s note over students’ protestations.
49.Don’t Get Played for A Fool – Don’t be too trusting in the classroom, and don’t get suckered into compromising on your rules as it will only cause students to lose respect for you.
50.Stick to The Plan but Stay Adaptable – When it comes to substitute teaching, anything is possible. Try to plan for everything, but accept the fact that you’ll always have to improvise, too. Classroom management can prove a challenge for even seasoned substitute teachers, but these 50 tips should help every substitute navigate modern classrooms with a little more dexterity.