As a public school teacher for over a decade there are some important qualities that I have found in substitute teachers. When finding these qualities I will request the substitute again. Before I start, I would first like to add that many teacher's deny taking time off because of the preparation required in doing so. First, we have to plan a lesson for a substitute who may or may not have any experience or knowledge in the given subject area. That being said the lesson can't be too subject area complex. Second, we have to leave detailed plans for lunch, planning period duty schedules and activities, seating charts, attendance, schedule rotation, dismissal and extra passes. An organized teacher already has these ready to go along with classroom rules and procedures posted somewhere in the classroom. Third, the substitute may or may not know how to use the classroom equipment so detailed instructions should be left for that as well, especially if the teacher is asking the substitute to use it. As a rule of thumb a teacher will usually leave another teacher's name for the substitute to check with in case he/she has any questions. Luckily for me most of the subs my school uses are regulars and know the school well. Last, I will add that I am an organized person (not all teachers are).
Qualities I look for:
1. A good substitute is organized and generally at school a little early in order to look over and prepare the lesson for the day. My last substitute came in the day before, while I was covering another teacher's class, and looked over the lessons. It's really awesome when they leave everything organized for the teacher's return as well.
2. Good classroom management skills are a must. Not all classes are equal, some are much better behaved than others depending on the groups of students. A sub may not know any of the students but yet has to manage them for a day or more. I like substitute's that use the evil eye (I always hear about it later from the students). Also important that the teacher sets up ground rules for behavior before taking an absence although some classes are simply students who should not be placed in a classroom ever together.
3. Coming prepared. A good sub has brought extra pencils, paper, candy, a pen for themselves, a creative mind and even reading material. My school had a regular substitute that placed tape on the classroom door when he would leave because the door's aren't always unlocked.
4. When I come back to school after a leave I like to know how their day went and if there were any students whose behavior went above and beyond in a good way and in a not so good way. I have found most good subs, especially those there for more than a day will leave a description of how the day went for each class period.
5. A substitute who follows directions. As a teacher I write or type out detailed descriptions of the students assignments and anything else I deem important because I want the directions followed. That may seem like simple common sense but not all subs are created equal and some don't follow directions. I had a substitute once who took everything off my desk which I had left for him and went to the teacher next door saying I had left no plans. She then checked out a movie for him that had absolutely nothing to do with my subject area. During the day he proceeded to log into my computer, not using my password because I don't have it written down, but someone's password and played computer games the entire day. What I never understood about the situation is that I had left movies for them to watch, so why fake it? Needless to say he was never invited back into my classroom and shortly after banned from the school.
How does a teacher know when a substitute has these qualities? That is an easy answer, our rooms are left in the same shape if not better when we return, the student's have completed the work assigned, the teacher next door has no complaints, and last the students usually give a play by play upon their regular teachers return.
A substitute teacher who has these qualities is worth their weight in gold because sometimes teachers do have to take time off and occasionally we even take a vacation. Kudos to the many substitutes I've had that have made my life a little simpler and have done their job, occasionally more than they were asked. My sub last week was one of the best I've ever had. He did a fantastic job!
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