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My Top 11 Tips for Substitute and Supply Teachers

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Show Notes:

If you're a new teacher or if you're a teacher who has just graduated, you'll probably find yourself doing a little bit of substitute teaching (or as some people call it, supply teaching) in the district where you really do want to land a job until a position opens up.

In between the time when I first graduated from university and when I left to go overseas to teach, I did quite a bit of substitute teaching at the school where I ended up getting a position at years later when I came back from my travels.

It wasn't always smooth and it certainly wasn't easy.

However, I can tell you that I learned more about classroom management and about how to walk in and establish myself as their teacher for a short period of time from all of these experiences than I did from ANY of my student teaching experiences because you really are on your own for the very first time.

There is no mentor teacher to lend you a hand or to rescue you when things go really badly, so you learn a lot about what to do and especially about what NOT to do.

It's probably the hardest thing you'll ever do, because we all know how we treated substitute teachers when we were growing up...

However, it truly is possible to start to enjoy substitute or supply teaching once you do a few things to set yourself up for success, and today we're going to talk about 11 of my favorite ideas and strategies that I've learned over the years for how to make the most out of substitute teaching and how to actually enjoy the experience.

Inside this idea-packed episode, you'll learn:

  • What I learned to do before the students arrived to set myself up for success (and feel supported throughout the day if things went wrong).
  • How to make a great connection with kids from the start.
  • What to do to ensure that the reward system you set up will actually work with students.
  • How to work together with the classroom teacher to ensure a great day (even when they aren't there).
  • The amazing school-wide positive reinforcement system we used at my school that you can easily adapt for substitute teaching.
  • A simple system for handling challenging kids in the class (and that usually prevents problems in the first place).
  • My five favorite activities for when kids finish work early (or when the teacher doesn't plan enough) to keep kids super engaged.
  • How you can increase the chances of being invited back again (and welcomed back by the students)!

This is a super-packed episode, loaded with goodies, so grab your favorite flair pen and a piece of paper and get ready to take lots of notes!

For even more support and to become part of a fantastic community, join my Beginning Teacher Talk private FB group today. And remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one!

πŸ’› Lori

Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor

Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at and at


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Resources and links mentioned inside this episode:

Beginning Teacher Talk Private FB Group

Imagination Station Fast Finisher Activities

200 "Would You Rather" Conversation Starters for Kids

50 Quick Activities for When Sub Lessons Run Short


Episodes related to this topic: 

  1. The Magic of Five-Minute Field Trips

  2. The Best Classroom Management Technique Ever: How to Get Your Entire Class’s Attention Instantly

  3. 12 Best Ideas to Calm Students After Recess and Lunch

  4. Ultimate Student Engagement: 5 Positive, Easy, & Creative Ways to Get & Keep Your Students’ Attention

  5. How to Be Confident as a New Teacher

  6. How to Give Directions So Your Students Actually Follow Them (The First Time)

  7. Develop Your Bag of Classroom Management Tricks

  8. Your Voice is the Secret: 7 Ways to Use Your Voice Effectively (Without Yelling)


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