substitute teacher

Leaving a good impression with teachers and administrators is an excellent way to get your foot in the door in education.  Although recent cutbacks have resulted in hiring freezes, the recession has provided an excellent opportunity to form strong relationships with the schools you work for.  Take advantage of this time to show you've got what it takes and beat out the competition with these winning tips.

Dress to Impress

Even if the district doesn't require it, you should always dress as if everyday were a job interview.  Make sure you put on a nice pair of slacks (not jeans, no matter how nice they look) and a button up shirt or blouse.  If you think your assignment might require physical activity, take a pair of sneakers with you, but don't wear them onto the campus. 

Always Leave a Detailed Note

I've often walked into a classroom a day after another sub had been there to find messy piles of classwork and no note.  Other times I've seen a short note stating that everything went fine with a quickly scribbled signature.  Even if you had little to do and the kids behaved perfectly, leave a detailed note of your day, broken down by period.  There are days I've had where absolutely nothing went wrong and the kids were marvelous, and I still left a page long note for the teacher.  This shows that you are detail oriented and that you're willing to stay that extra ten minutes after school to leave a note.  It also carries your signature which is what teachers will come to recognize you by.

Forming Relationships/Small Talk

Have short conversations with teachers and make yourself known.  When the permanent teacher returns and talks to her colleagues about how great you did other teachers will take note and remember the pleasant conversation they had with you the day before.  This will put you in their good graces and they may request you to fill an upcoming absence.  If there are aids in the classroom, chat with them too, but don't neglect the students.  Be on your best behavior if there are assistants in the class because they will likely report anything you didn't do.

Smile and Say Hello

You'd be surprised how far this goes.  Even some of the permanent teachers haven't learned how to do this.  Being friendly and greeting every teacher that passes you gets you recognized and you become a familiar face.  Teachers feel more comfortable leaving their students in your hands if you are familiar.  Making eye contact and flashing a natural smile leaves an impression, even if you say nothing.

Be Early

I almost titled this tip "Be On Time" but the fact is being early is a lot more impressive AND most districts require it.  In my experience, the most noticeable substitute blunder is being late and, even though it is noticed more than being early, getting to a school on-time will save you from being labeled irresponsible.  It is unfortunate that school administrators typically only notice when subs make mistakes but being early can save you from their watchful eye.

Stay Afterschool

If you know that you are standing in for a teacher that is in a meeting for the day, I would highly recommend waiting 10-15 minutes after the day is over to see if you can meet with them.  Even though this is not required, it makes a great impression and some teachers will actually rush back from their meetings to catch up with the sub.  If you're desperate to leave or - God forbid - leave early the teacher may take note and block you from subbing for their class again.

The Little Things

If you have the time or your day is rather slow you can organize things in the classroom or tidy up after the class is gone.  Just be sure that you don't overstep your boundaries by going through the teacher's things.  Usually, if I have a particularly messy teacher, I will organize papers and materials that are in plain view.  I never open drawers or closets.  Some teachers may appreciate this and have you back since you come with added perks.