Career Development

What Does a Substitute Teacher Do?

Find out what a substitute teacher does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a substitute teacher.

Substitute teachers are responsible for filling in for full-time teachers who need a break. They may teach the same class as the regular teacher or they may cover multiple classes on any given day.

Substitutes are often called upon to fill in when full-time teachers are sick, on vacation, or otherwise unable to work. However, they may also be used as a way to provide additional support and resources to students who might otherwise struggle with the demands of a full course load.

Substitute Teacher Job Duties

A substitute teacher typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Acting as a mentor to students and helping them adjust to being in school while their parents are away
  • Preparing lessons or activities by reading assigned materials beforehand
  • Supervising after-school programs such as daycare or preschool
  • Assisting with special projects such as field trips or assemblies
  • Maintaining discipline in the classroom by monitoring student behavior and providing feedback and guidance as needed
  • Administering tests to students and recording their scores
  • Taking attendance, recording grades and communicating with parents about student progress
  • Performing administrative tasks such as photocopying and filing papers
  • Covering for absent teachers by substituting in other classrooms where needed

Substitute Teacher Salary & Outlook

Substitute teachers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of position they hold. Some substitute teachers are paid hourly, while others are paid a daily rate.

  • Median Annual Salary: $36,231 ($17.42/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $64,000 ($30.77/hour)

The employment of substitute teachers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The need for substitute teachers will depend largely on the economy and the overall demand for education services. As the economy grows, more students will attend school, leading to greater demand for substitute teachers. However, schools will continue to try to minimize costs by using substitute teachers rather than hiring permanent teachers.

Substitute Teacher Job Requirements

A substitute teacher must meet the following requirements:

Education: Substitute teachers are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree. Some substitute teachers choose to earn a teaching degree, while others pursue a degree in a related field, such as English or history. Substitute teachers can also earn a post-baccalaureate certificate in education.

Training & Experience: Most substitute teachers receive training during their substitute teaching jobs. Training may include shadowing a current teacher, observing a lesson or assisting a teacher during a lesson. Some states require substitute teachers to complete training courses before working in the classroom. These courses may include teaching methods, classroom management and lesson planning.

Certifications & Licenses: Substitute teachers are generally required to be certified in a specific subject they may teach, such as a core academic subject like math or English. Some schools may require substitute teachers to have additional certifications, such as basic life support or CPR training.

Substitute Teacher Skills

Substitute teachers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. Substitute teachers should have excellent communication skills, as they may only have a short time to convey important information to their students. This can include explaining a new concept, answering questions or redirecting students’ attention.

Patience: Patience is another skill that can help you be a better substitute teacher. You may encounter students who are more rambunctious than usual or who have a difficult time focusing. Having patience can help you remain calm and encourage your students to do the same.

Organization: As a substitute teacher, you may not have access to a classroom assistant or a supply closet. It’s important to be able to keep your classroom organized so that you can provide a positive learning environment for your students. Organization skills can also help you to find resources quickly when you need them.

Flexibility: Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. As a substitute teacher, you may not know what to expect from a day at work. Flexibility allows you to be ready for anything, including changes in lesson plans, student absences and unexpected events.

Creativity: Creativity is the ability to come up with new ideas and solutions. As a substitute teacher, you may not have the same curriculum or lesson plans as the regular teacher. Therefore, it’s important to be able to come up with new ideas and activities to keep students engaged and learning.

Substitute Teacher Work Environment

Substitute teachers work in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, daycare centers, and after-school programs. They may work with students of all ages, from preschoolers to high schoolers, in small or large groups. Substitute teachers typically work on an as-needed basis, which means their work hours can vary greatly from week to week. They may work full-time or part-time, and their hours may be irregular. Substitute teachers may be required to work on short notice, often with little time to prepare for their classes. They may also be asked to work on days when school is not in session, such as holidays, teacher in-service days, and summer break.

Substitute Teacher Trends

Here are three trends influencing how substitute teachers work. Substitute teachers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Substitute Teachers Will Be Needed

As the population of students continues to grow, so too does the need for substitute teachers. This is because schools are increasingly relying on substitutes to fill in for teachers who are sick or on leave.

Substitute teachers can take advantage of this trend by becoming certified and/or qualified to teach a variety of subjects. They can also network with other professionals in the education field to find out about available jobs.

More Schools Will Use Online Learning Tools

As technology advances, more and more schools are using online learning tools to help students learn. This includes tools such as virtual classrooms, which allow students to interact with each other and their teachers through video conferencing.

Substitute teachers will need to be familiar with these tools in order to effectively teach students who are using them. They will also need to be able to manage student behavior in a way that is appropriate for an online environment.

Teachers Will Have More Flexibility

As technology advances, teachers are finding new ways to make use of their time. One example of this is the increased use of online learning platforms, which allows teachers to deliver lessons from anywhere in the world.

This trend is likely to continue as technology becomes even more advanced, which means that substitute teachers will need to be comfortable working with these platforms. In addition, they will need to be able to adapt to the changing needs of schools and students.

How to Become a Substitute Teacher

Substitute teachers have a unique opportunity to experience different classrooms and teaching styles. They can also learn from the students they teach and observe how other teachers manage their classroom. This is an excellent way to gain experience and develop your skills as a teacher.

Substitute teachers should always be prepared for any situation that may arise in the classroom. They should have lesson plans ready for all subjects, know how to handle difficult situations with students, and be able to connect with students on a personal level. Substitute teachers should also be patient and flexible, as they may need to change their plans quickly if something unexpected happens in the classroom.

Related: How to Write a Substitute Teacher Resume

Advancement Prospects

Substitute teachers may advance to regular teaching positions if they have the required education and certification. They may also advance to become lead teachers, education coordinators, or education administrators.

Substitute Teacher Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide quality education to students of all ages. We’re looking for a substitute teacher to join our team and help us provide a positive learning experience for our students. The ideal candidate will have a teaching certificate and prior experience working with students in a classroom setting. He or she will be able to create a positive and engaging learning environment, and be able to adapt to different situations and classrooms as needed. The substitute teacher will be responsible for following the lesson plans left by the regular classroom teacher, and maintaining a positive and safe learning environment.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Follow the lesson plans provided by the absent teacher, ensuring that all material is covered in a timely manner
  • Manage student behavior in accordance with school rules and regulations, intervening when necessary to maintain order and discipline
  • Keep accurate records of student attendance and performance, and submit these reports to the office in a timely manner
  • Maintain a safe and clean classroom environment at all times
  • Be available to answer student questions and provide additional instruction as needed
  • Help students complete assigned work, providing feedback and guidance as necessary
  • Encourage students to think critically and participate actively in class discussions
  • Differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners
  • Model positive behavior and treat students with respect
  • Attend faculty meetings and professional development workshops as required
  • Perform other duties as assigned by the school administration
  • Serve as a positive role model for students

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Valid state teaching certification
  • Ability to pass a background check
  • Excellent communication, organizational, and time-management skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Creativity and patience

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Classroom experience
  • Experience working with children of the age group you will be substitute teaching
  • Multi-subject teaching certification
  • Bilingualism

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