Is becoming a substitute teacher right for me?

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What do substitute teachers do?

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How to become a Substitute Teacher

Becoming a substitute teacher involves a combination of education, certification, and compliance with state and district requirements. Here is a general guide on how to become a substitute teacher:

  • Education Requirements: Research the specific requirements for substitute teaching in your state and the school district where you plan to work. Each state and district may have slightly different criteria and processes. Some states require substitute teachers to hold a teaching credential or certificate. This may involve completing a substitute teacher training program or obtaining a teaching license. Check with your state's education department for specific requirements.
  • Complete Substitute Teacher Training: Many states and districts require substitute teachers to complete training programs that cover classroom management, instructional strategies, and other essential skills. This training may be offered by the school district or through online courses.
  • Complete a Background Check: Most school districts require substitute teachers to undergo a thorough background check, including criminal history and fingerprinting, to ensure the safety of students.
  • Submit an Application: Contact the school district or districts where you wish to substitute teach and inquire about their application process. Submit a formal application along with any required documents, such as transcripts, proof of education, or teaching credentials.
  • Attend an Interview: If an interview is part of the application process, be prepared to discuss your qualifications, experience, and your approach to managing a classroom. Supply references, which may include past employers, educators, or other individuals who can speak to your suitability for the role of a substitute teacher.
  • Attend Orientation or Onboarding Sessions: If accepted as a substitute teacher, attend any required orientation or onboarding sessions. These sessions may cover district policies, classroom procedures, and expectations for substitute teachers.
  • Flexible Schedule Availability: Be prepared to have a flexible schedule, as substitute teaching assignments are often on short notice. Availability and willingness to work in various schools and grade levels can increase your opportunities for assignments.

Helpful Resources
Being a substitute teacher can be both rewarding and challenging. Here are some helpful resources for substitute teachers:

  • Online Substitute Teacher Platforms: Websites like and Swing Education connect substitute teachers with schools in need. These platforms often provide resources, job listings, and support for substitute teachers.
  • Substitute Teacher Associations: Joining a substitute teacher association can provide you with networking opportunities, professional development, and access to resources. The National Substitute Teachers Alliance (NSTA) is one such organization.
  • Education Websites: Explore websites like TeachersPayTeachers and for lesson plans, educational materials, and resources that you can use during your substitute assignments.
  • Classroom Management Books: Reading books on effective classroom management can be beneficial. "The First Days of School" by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong is a widely recommended resource for new and experienced teachers.
  • Online Learning Platforms: Utilize online learning platforms like Khan Academy, TED-Ed, and others to find supplementary materials and educational videos that can enhance your lessons.
  • Professional Development Courses: Many online platforms, including Coursera and LinkedIn Learning, offer professional development courses for teachers. Topics range from classroom management to subject-specific skills.
  • Substitute Teacher Handbooks: Some school districts provide substitute teacher handbooks that outline expectations, policies, and procedures. Make sure to review and familiarize yourself with the handbook in the district where you are substituting.
  • Education Blogs and Forums: Follow education blogs and participate in forums where teachers share their experiences and resources. Websites like the Substitute Teaching Forum can provide valuable insights and tips.