As I mentioned in my last post, substituting can be a very
beneficial way of making positive impressions at a school. Some teachers end up
substituting as a last resort after a failed job search. If you are trying to
get a full-time position, you need to make positive impressions with
principals, secretaries and teachers. All of these parties can have a say in
you receiving a full-time job.
I’m going to focus on how to make a good impression with the
teacher you are substituting for because that’s what I know best. Some of the
tips might sound like common sense, but they are all here because someone has
violated them at some point while subbing in my classroom.
spill coffee on my desk.
This goes for food crumbs, the plastic bag you brought your lunch in and your
half-empty soda bottle. If I know I am going to be gone ahead of time, I take
time to clean my desk and organize everything where you can find it. I
appreciate a substitute that takes the time to leave everything how he or she
download anything on my computer.
If you download a game or music on my computer, I can be fairly certain you
weren’t spending the day teaching. Even if your download isn’t entertainment
related, I still don’t like you downloading things on my computer. I don’t like
viruses, and when I see unknown downloads on my computer, it makes me nervous.
- Leave a
note at the end of the day.
Tell me how the lesson was. Too hard? Too easy? Not long enough? How much did
you get through? Tell me about the students. Did they behave? Did you write a referral for any students?
Even if nothing remarkable happened, organizing the returned work from the
day’s lesson and leaving a quick note will set you apart from others.
- Show up
Once a month I take the Special Olympics team to an event. Nothing is more
nerve-racking than waiting for a late substitute to show up after school
starts. I understand that substitutes are often contacted early in the morning
and at the last minute, but try to get there as early as all other teachers do,
especially if you are scheduled in advance. If you want to be a full-time
teacher it’s good to act like one. The extra time at the beginning of the day
will let you talk to fellow teachers and make positive impressions.
- Do as
much of the lesson as possible.
I leave more work than I know my students can finish in one period just because
I don’t want them to run out of things to do and leave you scrambling for
filler activities. I don’t expect you to get through everything, but I do expect
my students to complete something. I have returned from field trips and had no
work turned in from some of my classes.
- Look at
emergencies as opportunities.
I was talking to someone recently who was discouraged because it seemed like every
time she was a substitute, a student got sick, someone had a bloody nose or
some other distraction happened in the room. My advice to her was to look at
these emergencies as ways to make more positive impressions. Talk to some of
the teachers or even the nurse at the end of the day and bring up these
situations (you know, real smooth and subtle-like) and how you handled these
situations like a pro.
The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” can
be true when looking for a teaching job. Making positive impressions with
teachers while substituting gives you an inside advocate in your search for a
If you are pursuing a full-time teaching job, following
these tips can help you receive a positive recommendation from teachers. If you
aren’t looking for a teaching job and substitute as supplemental income,
following these tips can ensure the substitute calls keep coming.