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Hello everyone. I am a substitute teacher new to this profession (new to blogging) and my first week of substituting was chaotic! Can someone point me in the right direction where I can get tips and help for classroom management and mentoring? Thank you!

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Lisa Dabbs's picture
Lisa Dabbs
Educational Consultant. Author. Speaker. Blogger.

I have done a whole new teacher boot camp recently and one of our topics was classroom management. Here is the link that also includes some resources
Here is one of those resources
We also have this group here on Edutopia that prove useful to you

Let me know what else you might need. Sorry to have not seen your post until now!

Melissa Westerlund's picture
Melissa Westerlund
Substitute general/special/art teacher from long island, New York

As a fellow substitute teacher I can relate to the lost feeling you feel the first time you walk into a sub job. I was two months out of college, my teaching certifications were snug in my portfolio, my bag was packed and off I went. I walked through those doors the first time in my life, was barely greeted, given a stack of papers including some attendance sheets and my plans accompanied by a key, and an insincere "have a great day." After wandering the halls to find the room I was supposed to be in, I studied my "plans" and tried to make sense of AP chemistry material I have never heard of before.

Thankfully I have learned a lot in the last four years and I never walk into a room feeling quite that way anymore. I have learned so many things from substitute teaching, especially my classroom management abilities. Never before that first day have I had to manage the class without another teacher to support me, but never before had I managed a class effectively either. After some time I began forming friendships with teachers that worked in the buildings I went to, and they helped me when I was lost or confused or stuck without plans. I also keep a "bag of tricks" folder to use in case I have unplanned time to fill.

In time you will become accustomed to the routines of each building and each teacher and all the expectations they will have of you. It will become apparent when they begin to notice your abilities and your potential and you will find teachers will ask for you by name in the office.

I stress the importance of being extremely friendly to all teachers, adminstrators and staff at all times regardless of the placement they find for you. I once said something to a teacher friend about a placement I was given everytime that teacher was out, it was a difficult and stressful class, she responded "you should be proud of yourself, they don't put just anyone there" and that's when I realized; I counted, I mattered to this school. It felt good, even if it was still difficult and stressful.

The one thing that continues to baffle me to this day is school wide support, schools would not be able to function properly without substitute teachers, there are too many meetings, trainings and personal issues (like doctor visits and sick days) to survive without us. Since our presence in the school districts is so necessary why is it that we are not given adequate support and trainings? For example all the teachers in the district I most often work have been trained and certified in the Wilson Reading Program and many teachers leave me the manual and instruct me to teach the appropriate lesson for the day. To help the students we serve, shouldn't the substitutes also be trained in all the programs they expect us to teach?

Best of luck to you, I know you will find this experience to be most beneficial to your career.

Carol's picture
Substitute Teacher and Grad Student (secondary English licensure)

One of the most important things I've learned to do is to always appear confident. Confidence communicates competence.

Another is respect. Most students won't respect a new person without reason. If you show them respect, they are more likely to treat you with respect and listen to what you have to say.

Best advice from a principal (at an alternative school):
1. Don't touch the students.
2. Don't get into any verbals.
3. Use your sense of humor.

Also, if I have a lesson to teach that I don't understand as well as I'd like (e.g. math lessons), I seek out a teacher in that subject area for a quick lesson. I've found teachers more than happy to help me out.

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