How to Keep Your Best Substitutes Coming Back

Substitute teacher smiles while working at desk

As the school year comes to a close, now is a great time to think of ways to keep your best substitutes coming back next Fall. We’ve gathered several ideas to serve your substitutes well and encourage them to keep covering your classes well into the school year.

Prepare with Your Students

Rules Board

One idea you can try is to create a rules board. While this handy tool might already be on your wall, consider making one specifically for when a substitute is present. That way students have a visible reminder in the classroom of what is expected of them that the sub can point to. It may include rules such as “Treat the guest teacher with respect” or “Raise hands, not voices.”

Manage Expectations

Another way to help the guest teacher is to let your students know that he or she will be in contact with you and will report how the day went. Students are much less likely to take advantage of the substitute if they know that their regular teacher will hear about how they behaved. It is immensely helpful to the guest teacher if your students already know what to do once class starts.

Organization is Key

Forward Lesson Plans

Lesson plans are the first thing a guest teacher will look for when they walk in the classroom. Place your plans in an obvious location that they can’t miss. Even better, you can send them the lesson plans before they are supposed to arrive via a Tagg in-app message. This way, they’ll have time to prepare and can ask clarifying questions.

Name Cards and Seating Charts

Where kids sit can make or break any school day. Seat the wrong students next to each other and chaos may break out. Save your substitute from a distraction disaster and provide an organized seating chart. Take it one step further and leave name stickers so your substitute won’t have to keep looking back down at the chart!

Create a Substitute Binder

Do you want to be a super hero for your substitute? Create a substitute binder. This will be their resource for any and everything they need to know. It will include lesson plans, seating charts, daily duties, emergency procedures, a school contact list, and anything else you can think of that may be helpful. Additionally, it is all in one organized book.

Behavior Management

Have a Rewards System in Place

The thing that substitutes struggle with the most is behavior management. Having a reward system in place prior to your absence is crucial for a successful day. Since you won’t be present to reprimand your class, a reward system proactively incentivizes students to be on their best behavior while you are out. Let them know before you leave that they will be recognized or rewarded if you receive a good report.

Identify Nearby Helpers

Sometimes, however, a substitute will need more than the promise of reward to keep students in line. When kids really start to get out of hand, the guest teacher might require reinforcements. Leave a map of the school with a list of teachers or other colleagues that they can call for help. No matter who they reach out to, the substitute will feel better knowing that you have provided their information.

Other Ideas to Consider

Leaving a Snack

Do you remember when you were a substitute? Sometimes lunch was provided and other times it wasn’t. Maybe you had lunch duty and didn’t have time to eat. Either way, it would have been nice to have a snack on hand. Leaving some granola bars is a kind gesture that goes a long way.

Communicating After the Assignment

Last but not least, thank your substitute for covering your class. Simply shoot them an in-app message or leave a note with your office for the next time they come in. It’s the little things that keep the good substitute coming back.


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