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  • Writer's pictureBusybee Teachers

What Schools Look for in a Substitute Teacher: Insider Tips and Advice



Substitute teaching is a critical and challenging job that requires a unique set of skills and qualities. Schools look for substitute teachers who are flexible, adaptable, and capable of maintaining a safe and engaging learning environment for their students. In this blog post, we will explore what schools look for in a substitute teacher and provide some insider tips and advice to help you succeed in this role.


1. Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most crucial qualities that schools look for in a substitute teacher. As a substitute teacher, you may be called upon to teach any grade level, subject, or classroom. You may be asked to fill in at the last minute or for an extended period. Therefore, being adaptable and flexible is essential.

Moreover, being able to work in different environments, with different students and staff, and under varying circumstances is vital for your success as a substitute teacher. You must be willing to adjust your teaching style and approach to meet the needs of the students, staff, and school. Flexibility is key to thriving as a substitute teacher.


2. Classroom Management Skills

Effective classroom management skills are crucial for substitute teachers. As a substitute teacher, you may be walking into a classroom where students are unfamiliar with you, and they may not be used to following the same rules or routines as they do with their regular teacher. Therefore, you must have the skills to establish expectations, manage behavior, and maintain a positive and safe learning environment.

One way to develop effective classroom management skills is to observe other experienced teachers and learn from their techniques. Additionally, you can practice different classroom management strategies and experiment with what works best for you.


3. Positive Attitude

Maintaining a positive attitude is essential as a substitute teacher. You must be able to stay calm, patient, and professional, even in difficult situations. A positive attitude helps you to build strong relationships with students and staff, which, in turn, can lead to more successful teaching experiences.


4. Excellent Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills are vital for substitute teachers. You must be able to communicate effectively with students, staff, and parents. Communication involves not only speaking but also listening actively and responding appropriately. Clear and concise communication helps to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and what is going on in the classroom.

Moreover, you should be able to communicate with different types of learners, including those with special needs or language barriers. The ability to adapt your communication style to meet the needs of diverse learners is a valuable skill for a substitute teacher.


5. Subject Matter Expertise

While schools do not expect substitute teachers to be experts in every subject, it is essential to have a general understanding of the content you will be teaching. You must have a basic understanding of the subject matter, know where to find resources, and be able to answer students' questions.

Moreover, it is a good idea to have some activities or lesson plans in your repertoire that can be used across different subject areas or grade levels. This will help you be prepared to teach any subject or grade level at a moment's notice.


6. Professionalism

Finally, professionalism is essential for substitute teachers. You must be punctual, dress appropriately, and adhere to the school's policies and procedures. You are a representative of the school, and your behavior and conduct should reflect positively on the institution.

Moreover, you should be able to maintain confidentiality and respect the privacy of the students and staff. Finally, you should be able to follow the lesson plans provided by the regular teacher and not deviate from them unless necessary.


In conclusion, substitute teaching is a critical and challenging role that requires a unique set of skills and qualities. Schools look for substitute teachers who are flexible, adaptable, and capable of maintaining a safe and engaging learning environment for their students. In addition, excellent communication skills, subject matter expertise

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