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 found it.
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 job.
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.