Whether this is your first day subbing or you’re just looking for some tips to make it go more smoothly, this is what it takes to be an amazing sub. It seems simple, but seriously, do these things and you’ll stand out! In a good way!
1. Arrive on time.
And by “on time,” what I really mean is arrive early. If school starts at 8:00 and I’m required to be there by 7:45, I will try to get there by 7:30, especially if it’s a school I’ve never been to. The perks of arriving early are endless, and I could write pages on pages of why you should arrive early. But I’ll spare you. Basically, you want to arrive early so you can check in, find your classroom, read the sub plans, and it gives you time in case there are any issues like missing supplies (or worse - no sub plans!).
2. Stick with the plans!
Seriously. It seems obvious, but you’ll be surprised by how many subs don’t follow the sub plans. Teachers write these things for a reason! Stick with the sub plans and you’re doing a great job. Don’t fret if you don’t get to everything that’s written down, but try to do what you can. Also, let the teacher know what you did and didn’t get to in the note you leave, which we’ll get to in a minute.
3. Have the students clean up!
Okay, this one isn’t really required exactly, but it is such a nice gesture. Kids are always a little extra crazy (just a little...) when a sub is around, and as a result, teachers often end up coming back the next morning to a disaster zone. Try not to be one of those subs. If the sub notes say to have the students pack up to go home at 2:15, stop teaching at 2:10 (or 2:00 for younger grades) and have the students clean up their floor area. Give out raffle tickets or prizes to the table/student with the cleanest floor as extra motivation. Have the kids clean up and you will win some serious brownie points.
4. Leave a detailed note.
Leave the teacher a note letting them know how things went. Your note should include
- What did you cover today
- What did you not get to (and maybe a little note why)
- Which students were extra helpful
- Which students caused a lot of trouble
- Your contact info
I usually make my notes about a page long. Longer than that and I start rambling. I am really good at rambling. Teachers don’t care about your rambling. So don’t ramble! The teacher needs to know what you were able to teach today, what assignments you got to, and any major behavior issues. It’s also great to hear which students were really helpful - first of all, it makes your whole note seem more positive, and when the teacher gets to praise the students who did an amazing job, it’s extra motivation for all kids to behave a little better next time a sub comes around.
I also always write my contact info and include a business card or two. A little “If you have any questions please feel free to contact me!” goes a long way. I rarely have teachers call me to ask, but it’s nice to add just in case. Also, I try to leave more than one business card, because if teachers like you, they very well might share you with others. I’ve gotten phone calls months after a job asking me if I was available, calls from teachers I’d never met and schools I’ve never been to. Word of mouth can be really effective. Make sure that you’re selling yourself.
So those are my basic tips! Do these four simple things and you’re honestly doing better than most other subs out there. Subbing can be challenging, but from a teacher’s perspective, having to call in a sub can be really, really stressful. This tips will help you and the teacher out. A lot.