Case Studies 2024


Forums / New Teachers / Start Subbing...Tips?

New Teachers

Start Subbing...Tips?

Author Post
Katrina Adams Katrina Adams 295 Points

I am going to be getting my emergency teaching credential while I finish my actual elementary multiple subject credential and I am getting more and more nervous about subbing. Coming into a completely unfamiliar territory, unknown kids, classes, etc. I am hoping to sub for my master teacher, whom I'll be student teaching for until December, but after that I plan to sub through the spring 2015. What are some practical tangible things I should bring with me to feel better prepared (especially for those days with no sub plans)? Also any other suggestions and advice anyone can offer to prepare myself before I start would be greatly appreciated!

Corrie Armstrong Corrie Armstrong 490 Points

Hey there! I have been subbing since last semester, and it is definitely a job that you have to get used to. The first couple of time when you walk into a classroom to find the sub plans, it is very nerve-racking and you really do not know what you are going to be doing until 30 minutes before class starts. There is nothing you can really do about the nerves the first couple of times that you sub, but believe me that it gets SO MUCH BETTER after the first couple days. You kinda have to just go with the flow and realize that your main goal is to keep the kids safe. Most teachers do not care if you complete all of the sub plans that you have laid out for the day, they just care that their kids have a good day. Some things I bring with me when I sub: -- Stickers. Kids go crazy for stickers and will follow any directions if you bribe them with stickers. Sounds bad, but it is so true. -- A couple of grade level books. I also have some lesson plans prepared that I can use with the books. Like different writing topics, art projects, or math games. Like for the book The Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, You could have students describe a day where they really didn't have a good day. Or they can write when they had an awesome day. Then the kids can share their stories with the class and this would fill like an hour and a half of time! -- If you have some spare time, you could probably take the kids out for like 20 minutes of play time on the playground. (Just make sure it is OK with the principal) -- Songs to sing with the kids -- Games that I learned from being a cap counselor If you need any help, let me know!!!!! You will be great. Just don't let the craziness of subbing get you down. You will have both good days and not so good days, but keep your head up!

Jessica Nguyen Jessica Nguyen 1155 Points

These are some really wonderful ideas! I just tried them when I subbed and the stickers definitely work! Thanks

Jessica Nguyen Jessica Nguyen 1155 Points

These are some really wonderful ideas! I just tried them when I subbed and the stickers definitely work! Thanks

Samantha Coyle Samantha Coyle 2245 Points

I had never thought about bringing books before - that's a great idea! I just don't ever want to be that sub that teachers make clear they never want in their classroom again. I feel like the first times are rough, and I am so glad my subbing has only been with children I was acquainted with. I have subbed in an emergency situation before and was only told what to do right then - not when they finished. Her basket of books was a lifesaver, and I can't believe I hadn't thought about bringing them along in future situations!

Courtney Lucca Courtney Lucca 620 Points

Thank you for all of the great ideas! These are some great pointers!

Ava Aldcroft Ava Aldcroft 595 Points

Ah, these are all great suggestions. I'm definitely going to use some of these tips! Thanks!

Shamama Nargis Shamama Nargis 2845 Points

Hi, I must say these are really good ideas and that how student will like you and believe me they will not give you as much hard time they might be giving to some others they do. I heard from many subs that kids get out of control when their real teacher is not their even though they have a lot of work to do they just don't work and play most of the time. So I think by doing that kids will behave well because they will know if they behave well they will get some prize such as sticker or something else etc. I never been a sub but I always apply these types of things when I'm around kids and it always work.

Kate Schroeder Kate Schroeder 400 Points

Hey Katrina! I'm in the same boat. I am about to apply for the emergency credential and it is terrifying. I have mainly only heard about the horror stories of subbing. I think the biggest thing we need to do is keep an open mind and go into every class thinking positive thoughts. Like Corey said, having activities, songs, and games ready are extremely important. Bringing an actual bag ("Bag of tricks") to the class may help you feel as ease with activities you are comfortable with. This website has a lot of awesome sponge activities based on grade level: Also, if you know the grade level you are going into, it may help to prepare your "bag of tricks". This, of course, is all filler activities to use after you have done the sub plan. Hopefully, you can use the knowledge you have gained from the credential program to lengthen the sub lessons. Talking to fellow subs or teachers before your first few sub days may help too. They can give you insight to what to expect and maybe some good subbing stories to ease your worries.

Patrice Janyska Patrice Janyska 10 Points

I have been subbing for 2 years now at our middle school and love it!!! Once the teachers get to know you they may begin to ask for you when they know they are going to be out. For middle school students I have a list of go to videos and websites to play games with them depending on what they are studying at the time. I also keep my own subscriptions to Brain Pop and edhelper to fill in when I need it. Our sub coordinator is really good about trying to schedule us out ahead of time and it has been rare lately that I am called in last minute in the morning. The biggest thing is to set your authority with the kids at the beginning. Let them know your expectations even if they are different than that of the regular teacher ex. No talking when someone else is talking, sit in your seat, etc.

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

I hope things are going well for you.
I found five websites that may help, if you haven't uncovered them already!

1. Education World-specific tips for subbing and links t may other great resources, including the National Substitute Teachers Alliance.

2. Substitute Teaching Ideas on Pinterest-Ideas for different grade levels

3. The Guest Teachers Bag of Goodies - Ideas for Substitutes-Survival Kit for Guest Teachers

4. Ideas for Substitute Teachers With No Lesson Plans-Survival tips for those days when there are no plans!

I hope this helps!

Naomi Beverly

Marci McGlin Marci McGlin 375 Points

Thank you so much for sharing! These are all really awesome and helpful websites for teachers that are just beginning their subbing. I can definitely see myself using some these "tricks" that are provided on the websites.

Courtney Lucca Courtney Lucca 620 Points

Those are some fantastic resources! Thank you for sharing!

Ava Aldcroft Ava Aldcroft 595 Points

Some of the tricks are great! I definitely will include use some of these great ideas while subbing. I know the kids will love it.

Arielle Gutierrez Arielle Gutierrez 995 Points

These are all great tips! Thanks!

Melissa Kennedy Melissa Kennedy 720 Points

I have been subbing for the past year while I finish up my bachelors. I mainly sub in middle schools. My biggest tips: Follow the plans, remember your classroom management strategies, and leave a note telling the teacher about the day and thanking them. I also leave my name and number so they can request me in the future :) Good Luck!

Allison Oharriz Allison Oharriz 610 Points

I Have been subbing for over a year now and the first time is always a little nerve wrecking in the classroom. One thing that always helps me is being prepared with extra activities that keep the students busy when there is free time or when they are finished with their assignments before the other students because that's when they get the loudest and start distracting students. One thing every class I have ever had loves, is riddles! They try so hard to solve the riddles and they think its funny. I usually don't tell them the answer till the end of the day so that they are constantly working on it when they are finished with work.

Jessica Villarreal Jessica Villarreal 1385 Points

I am wanting to sub for a while after I graduate and these are all great tips! Thank you guys for sharing. This will definitely help me in the future.

Nanako Kaieda Nanako Kaieda 1850 Points

I have not thought about subbing before because I thought I would not be able to but after reading the stories and experiences that the other teachers have had here, I would like to have known this earlier so that I could get some experience working with students. I also feel that this was very helpful in knowing what I should prepare as a future teacher for when I have a substitute.

Pilar Zenere Pilar Zenere 445 Points

I am so glad I found this forum! I am going to start substitute teaching at the end of the month and wanted to get tips from individuals who are currently subbing. Bringing grade level books is a great idea! You never know what the teacher will already have in the class. I have a slight obsession with children's books so I already have a book in mind. The book is called The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. It is especially good for younger kids who still love coloring with crayons! It would be a great way to entertain and engage students if the teacher doesn't leave enough work for them to do.

Daniel Carroll Daniel Carroll 18610 Points

Just remember... Subbing is entirely different than being a teacher. You really don't have a rapport with the kids and they are just happy the teacher is gone. It is often a rough way to go. Some schools like arlington, va has in-school-subs which is a slightly better gig. Check that out. FYI. Arlington Va has a job fair next saturday, march 21st.

Stanethia Miller Stanethia Miller 1040 Points

A lot of great advice here! I'm taking some notes since I plan on subbing the semester before I student teach!

Lori Gillespie Lori Gillespie 3030 Points

I just subbed for the first time over the last couple of days and it was very nerve racking especially because the first day the teacher was unprepared and left me little too do with them and as for the worksheets she left there was not enough for all the classes I had to see that day. The second day was better because the teacher was better organized for me, however classroom management was the biggest issue because the students were a bit challenging. It got easier each time I subbed and the good news is that by subbing all different grades and classes I am able to get a better feel about which grade I would prefer to teach when I graduate with my teaching degree.

Uchenna Agbahiwe Uchenna Agbahiwe 335 Points

Hello, I'm in a very similar situation. Everyone has had such great ideas. One things I would say is don't be afraid to ask the students what they usually do and where they should be. It's usually pretty apparent the students who love to help the teachers and you can ask them what they should be doing and where certain things are.

Amber Escobedo Amber Escobedo 680 Points

Hi everyone! I am a current student teacher, finishing my credential next month. I have only subbed for my master teachers, so I am a little nervous about subbing for other teachers and working with students that do not know me. My fear is having a class with poorly written lesson plans or no lesson plans! Thanks for the great suggestions! I agree is is important to have activities to keep students engaged and busy, especially while other students are working.

John Pacheco John Pacheco 1215 Points

Thanks for the thread!

Michaela Baca Michaela Baca 325 Points

I am in the same boat and would love to hear of resources I can use to have with me in case there aren't sub plans (or not very good sub plans). My guide teacher has recommended having some storys with you that will interest the students and still have educational value. Therefore, you can use these stories during a read aloud.

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers