How To Become A Substitute Teacher: A Complete Guide for 2024

Are you interested in becoming a substitute teacher? Do you want to know what it takes to succeed in this rewarding and flexible career? If so, you have come to the right place. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about how to become a substitute teacher in 2024, including the requirements, the benefits, the skills, and the tips to make the most of your experience.

What is a substitute teacher and what do they do?

A substitute teacher is an educator who fills in for a regular teacher when they are absent or on leave. Substitute teachers can work in any grade level, from kindergarten to high school, and in any subject area, from math to music. Substitute teachers are responsible for following the lesson plans left by the regular teacher, managing the classroom, and ensuring the continuity of learning for the students.

Substitute teaching can be a great career option for many people, especially those who:

  • Love working with children and have a passion for education
  • Want to have a flexible and varied schedule
  • Are considering a full-time teaching career and want to gain experience
  • Are looking for a part-time or supplemental income
  • Enjoy learning new things and facing new challenges

What are the requirements to become a substitute teacher?

The requirements to become a substitute teacher vary by state, district, and school. However, some of the most common requirements are:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • A bachelor’s degree or some college credits (in some states or districts)
  • A state license, permit, or certification (in some states or districts)
  • A background check and fingerprinting
  • A TB test and a drug test
  • A CPR and first aid training
  • A professional development or orientation training

To find out the specific requirements for your state or district, you can visit the websites of the Department of Education, the School Board, or the Substitute Teacher Service. You can also contact the schools you are interested in working for and ask about their hiring process and expectations.

How much do substitute teachers make and what are the benefits?

The salary of substitute teachers depends on several factors, such as the location, the level of education, the experience, and the duration of the assignment. According to Indeed, the average salary of substitute teachers in the U.S. is $10.53 per hour. However, some states or districts may pay more or less than the national average. For example, according to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of substitute teachers in California is $15.92 per hour, while the average salary of substitute teachers in Mississippi is $8.75 per hour.

Besides the salary, substitute teachers may also enjoy some benefits, such as:

  • Flexible hours and days
  • Variety of assignments and settings
  • Networking and professional development opportunities
  • Potential for full-time employment
  • Satisfaction of making a difference in students’ lives

However, substitute teachers may also face some drawbacks, such as:

  • Lack of benefits like health insurance, retirement plan, and paid leave
  • Unpredictable and inconsistent work
  • Lack of support and resources
  • Difficulties with classroom management and student behavior
  • Low recognition and appreciation

Therefore, before deciding to become a substitute teacher, you should weigh the pros and cons and see if it suits your goals, skills, and personality.

What skills do substitute teachers need and how to develop them?

Substitute teaching requires a set of skills that can help you perform your duties effectively and efficiently. Some of the most important skills for substitute teachers are:

  • Communication: You need to be able to communicate clearly and respectfully with students, teachers, administrators, and parents. You also need to be able to follow instructions, give feedback, and ask questions.
  • Leadership: establish authority and rapport with the students, set expectations and rules, and motivate and engage them in learning.
  • Flexibility: adapt to different situations, environments, and challenges. You also need to be able to improvise, problem-solve, and think on your feet.
  • Organization: plan ahead, manage your time, and keep track of your assignments. You also need to be able to organize the classroom, the materials, and the students’ work.
  • Creativity: make the lessons interesting, fun, and relevant for the students. You also need to be able to use different strategies, methods, and resources to meet the students’ needs and learning styles.

To develop these skills, you can:

  • Take courses, workshops, or webinars on topics related to education, teaching, and learning
  • Read books, articles, or blogs on best practices, tips, and advice for substitute teachers
  • Watch videos, podcasts, or webcasts on examples, demonstrations, and interviews of substitute teachers
  • Join online or offline communities, forums, or groups of substitute teachers and share your experiences, questions, and insights
  • Seek feedback, mentoring, or coaching from experienced or successful substitute teachers
  • Practice, practice, practice

What are some tips for substitute teachers to succeed in their job?

Substitute teaching can be a rewarding and enjoyable job, but it can also be challenging and stressful. To succeed in your job, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Be prepared

Before you accept an assignment, do some research on the school, the grade, and the subject you will be teaching. Check the school’s website, handbook, policies, and procedures. Review the lesson plans, materials, and objectives left by the regular teacher. Pack your essentials, such as your ID, your license, your resume, your phone, your water bottle, and your snacks.

  • Be professional

When you arrive at the school, check in with the office, the principal, or the coordinator. Introduce yourself, ask for directions, and get the keys, the roster, the schedule, and the emergency plan. Dress appropriately, act respectfully, and follow the rules. Leave a note for the regular teacher, thank the staff, and check out with the office.

  • Be positive

When you enter the classroom, greet the students, write your name on the board, and tell them something about yourself. Smile, be friendly, and show enthusiasm. Praise the students, give them incentives, and celebrate their achievements. Avoid negative comments, criticism, or sarcasm.

  • Be flexible

When you teach the lesson, follow the plan as much as possible, but be ready to make adjustments if needed. Be creative, use different techniques, and incorporate your own style. Be responsive, answer the student’s questions, and clarify any confusion. Be adaptable, deal with any problems, and handle any changes.

  • Be firm

When you manage the classroom, establish your expectations and routines from the start. Be clear, consistent, and fair. Use positive reinforcement, preventive strategies, and non-verbal cues. Avoid power struggles, confrontations, or arguments. Seek help from other teachers, assistants, or administrators if necessary.

FAQs about becoming a substitute teacher

Here are some frequently asked questions about becoming a substitute teacher:

  • Q: How long can a substitute teacher work in the same classroom?
  • A: The answer depends on the state, district, and school regulations. Some may limit the number of days a substitute teacher can work in the same classroom, while others may allow them to work until the regular teacher returns. Generally, the longer a substitute teacher works in the same classroom, the more responsibilities and expectations they have.
  • Q: How can a substitute teacher find and apply for assignments?
  • A: The answer depends on the system used by the state, district, or school. Some may use an online platform, such as Aesop, Frontline, or SubFinder, where substitute teachers can register, browse, and accept assignments. Others may use a phone call, an email, or a text message, where substitute teachers can communicate with the office, the coordinator, or the regular teacher.
  • Q: How can a substitute teacher become a full-time teacher?
  • A: The answer depends on the requirements and opportunities of the state, district, or school. Some may offer a transition program, such as a substitute-to-teacher pathway, where substitute teachers can receive training, mentoring, and certification to become full-time teachers. Others may require substitute teachers to complete a degree, a license, or a test to become full-time teachers.
  • Q: How can a substitute teacher advance in their career?
  • A: The answer depends on the goals and interests of the substitute teacher. Some may want to specialize in a certain grade level, subject area, or student population. Others may want to pursue a higher degree, a certification, or a credential. Still others may want to explore other roles, such as a tutor, a mentor, or a trainer.
  • Q: How can a substitute teacher balance their work and life?
  • A: The answer depends on the preferences and needs of the substitute teacher. Some may want to work as much as possible, while others may want to work only occasionally. Some may want to work in different schools, while others may want to work in the same school. Some may want to work in the morning, while others may want to work in the afternoon. The key is to find a schedule and a setting that works best for you and your lifestyle.

How To Become A Substitute Teacher

Substitute teaching is a rewarding and flexible career that can suit many people who love education and children. However, it also requires meeting certain requirements, developing certain skills, and following certain tips to succeed in the job. If you are interested in becoming a substitute teacher, you should do your research, prepare yourself, and apply for the assignments that match your goals and preferences. You should also keep learning, improving, and enjoying your experience as a substitute teacher. By doing so, you will not only make a positive impact on the students’ lives, but also on your own.