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Classroom Management for Substitute Teachers

One of the hardest parts of teaching is being gone. Whether it is planned or spur of the moment, being gone always seems to require more work than to actually be there. While we are away on a vacation or recovering from some germ, our minds are constantly wondering how things are going. We are constantly hoping that our directions were clear enough, there is enough to do, and our students are behaving. For most of us the first two worries are minor, we’ve all made a sub plan before, but the last one is completely out of our control, or is it? Classroom management for substitute teachers can be made easier if you follow the guide below. 

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Everything Has Its Place

Substitute teachers are in and out of classrooms all the time. Therefore, even if you’ve had this sub before, they may not remember everything about your classroom. To help your substitute with something simple such as where the markers for a project are, it is important for you to leave a map for your substitute teacher. 

The map can include where to find the sub folder, markers, staples, extra pencils, band aids, etc. By having this map available, your substitute can gather materials he or she needs to start the day and won’t have to worry about students get antsy during “the search.” 

If this…then 

This can be something that we forget about as teachers; all the “ifs” of the day. Throughout a typical day we are making thousands of decisions. There are some situations that, while they may be unlikely, do come up from time to time. This is where your “If this…then…” list comes into play. On this list, you may want to include: 

  • Should students get into a physical fight, then you should…
  • If a student gets sick, then you should…
  • In the event that there is a fire, then you should use (fill in the blank) exit. 
  • If there is a tornado/whether, they you should go to (fill in the blank) location. 

These all may seem like no brainers, but every school has its own policy and remember your substitute might go to several different schools. Classroom management is made easier for substitute teachers when the “if this…then…” list is available because he/she is ready for any sort of unexpected event. This list may be more specifically tailored to your class as well but we will get to that later on. 

One of the hardest parts of teaching is being gone. Whether it is planned or spur of the moment, being gone always seems to require more work than to actually be there. Click To Tweet
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The Law of the Land

Like we have discussed several times, substitutes are in several different schools and classrooms. Usually there are different “laws” in each classroom and school. You should always leave a list of your classroom guidelines as well as the basic school guidelines as well. Knowing this will help the teacher keep everyone on schedule and will make your life easier when you get back to school too. 

In addition to leaving the law of the land, you want to make sure you leave consequences for breaking the law. Classroom management can get really difficult if you don’t know what the normal consequence is. 

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I’m looking for someone who…

Once you have all your bases covered with the basics of your classroom in general, you may want to get to the real wild cards of your classroom: your students. The type of day your students are having can make or break your substitute teacher. This tip for classroom management will hopefully make for easy and worry free days both for you and your substitute. 

You should leave a “I’m looking for…” list in your classroom. This list should include both good and bad things about your students. It’s not bad to know that Jill likes to talk to Jack way too much and that Mary will always lend a helping hand. Making a list of what to look for and from who is important. On this list you might want to include students who: 

  • Talk too much 
  • Can’t sit by each other 
  • Never get along
  • Have extra stress at home that may cause behavior (this one should be discreet and not specific just a general “this student is having trouble at home” will do; you don’t want to break any confidentiality rules)
  • Are very helpful
  • Need medicine 
  • Have allergies and where to find any needed medical supplies like an epi pen (this should be included on your map) 

Your list will change as your group of students do but it’s important to leave the substitute with some idea what to expect. This is not a list to complain about your students but just a list to let the substitute know your classroom dynamic so they know what to watch out for and who they can rely on for help. 

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A Pretty Package

Finally, the best thing you can do with all of this information is put it all in your “Sub Folder.” Your sub folder should include: 

  • Your lesson plans
  • Extra work
  • A class list 
  • A seating chart 
  • Your map 
  • If this…then list
  • The Law of the Land 
  • I’m looking for someone who…. List 

Having everything in one spot will make the day run smoothly for your substitute teacher. One of the hardest parts of subbing is keeping control in a classroom where you are the stranger. It’s no secret that students like to press their luck but with this handy guide your students won’t have a change to pull one over on the “new you” in the room. 

No matter what the best thing you can do for yourself and your substitute teacher is be prepared. But by following the substitute teacher tips for classroom management above, you can rest easy and recover knowing your classroom is under total control. 

Grab our free Substitute Teacher Feedback Form below to leave when you need to be out! Use this form to gather important information about how your classroom did while you were out!

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