Like any job, your first day substitute teaching can be intimidating, especially if you’re headed back to what some may recall as the most pivotal years of their early education: high school. If you’re still unsure whether becoming a substitute teacher and returning to the classroom is a good fit for you, this may help ease your decision-making process. Sharon Keller, the 2020-2021 De Soto School District Substitute of the Year shares her insight on what it’s like to work as a substitute teacher for both high school and middle school students.

Substitute teaching is just one of the many hats I wear. In addition to subbing, I’m also a real estate agent and a grandma. Every day begins differently because of my rotating schedule, and some days Morgan Hunter Education will reach out to ask if I can fill in for a teacher as a substitute. I also have 12 teachers I have taught for in the past that will request me again. They’ll text me and say, “Are you available on such and such date?” If I am, the teacher will put a request in for me to fill in for them that day.

Starting your day off right

Your day begins very early when you’re substitute teaching for middle or high school classrooms. If I know I plan to accept a job one day, I will lay out my clothes and pack a lunch the night before. Some of the essentials to grab before heading to the school include a water bottle, a coffee mug, a notebook, pens and additional paper.

Once you arrive to the school, it’s important to sign in and get your badge. This is also a great time to ask the secretary who you report attendance to and where to find your classroom. Remember, the secretary is your friend and can answer almost any question you have throughout the day.

What to do when you arrive in the classroom

Once you find your classroom for the day, start familiarizing yourself with the seating chart. Read any instructions the teacher left for you and don’t be afraid to ask nearby teachers when it’s time to switch classes or if you’re responsible for walking the students to lunch. Keep in mind, the students don’t always acclimate to a new teacher quickly. You don’t want to count on the seating chart for attendance because kids will often change up their space when their regular teacher is gone.

It can be helpful to use the notebook you brought with you throughout the day. I use mine to jot down the date, which school I was substituting at, the teacher’s name, the subject matter, when plan period was and what we did each hour. This will help keep you on track and makes it easy to write notes to leave for the teacher.

Wrapping up your day

At the end of each day, it’s important to let the teacher know what happened while they were gone. I typically wrap up my day by recapping what happened each hour based on the notes I took. If you liked working with that class, this is also a good time to take note of that for yourself and for the teacher. This could help get you on their list for future substitute teaching opportunities.

Make sure to leave the classroom as clean as you found it when you arrived. I prefer to stay until the busses leave at the end of the day. Once the students are gone, I head home and check my schedule to see if I will be available to do it all again the next day.


Interested in becoming a substitute teacher?

If you don’t have previous teaching experience, Morgan Hunter Education will walk you through the process to become a certified substitute teacher in both Missouri and Kansas. Contact our team at Morgan Hunter Education today to get started.