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Arkansas State University

Getting the Most Out of Substitute Teachers

It is unavoidable: teachers get sick. They have emergencies. Sometimes they have to take a day — or a few days — off of work. Even in the case of teacher absence, the school has a responsibility to continue educating its students. This is where substitute teachers come in.

As a classroom teacher, it is important to plan for unexpected absences in order to minimize the disruption to your students and the substitute teacher. When you enroll in a program to earn an online Master of Science Degree in Education in Educational Theory and Practice, you can expand your understanding of contingency plans for when a substitute teacher needs to take your place. Here are a few ways that teachers and students can get the most out of substitute teachers.

Stay Organized

It is important to be as organized and detailed as possible when designing curricula and laying out your classroom. The easier it is for substitute teachers to locate materials, follow lesson plans and understand directions about routines, the more effective they will be. Many teachers create a colorful, easy-to-read “sub binder,” which details classroom chores, roles, emergency activities and other important classroom-specific details.

Utilize the Talent and Responsibility of Your Students

There are always responsible students in each class whom you can count on, even during your absence. Because a substitute teacher might be new to a school or a specific classroom, many classroom teachers delegate certain responsibilities to students who can act as ambassadors for the substitute teacher. Some examples of specific roles include showing the substitute where certain items are kept, rearranging the room for activities or setting up various classroom technologies. Not only is this helpful for the substitute teacher, it also instills a sense of responsibility in the students.

Reach Out to Your Colleagues

Reaching out to the school administration is a must, as they will be responsible for finding a substitute teacher in your absence. Additionally, reaching out to the other teachers in your school is important. Other teachers understand how stressful an absence can be, and they can empathize with a substitute teacher trying to get his or her bearings in a new classroom. Teaching staff may be able to check in periodically with the substitute to answer questions or help manage a difficult classroom.

As a teacher, it is important to put together an absence plan. Substitute teachers are important resources, and when your classroom and lesson plans include plans for a replacement teacher, the transition will be that much easier. With an online master’s degree in education, you can learn how to design your classroom with this in mind.

Learn more about the A-State online Master of Science Degree in Education in Educational Theory and Practice program.


Teach Junkie: How to Create a Sub Plan, Sub Binder and Emergency Sub Plans

Education Week: Managing Teacher Absences Through Collaboration

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