Do you have what it takes to be a substitute teacher?

Do you have what it takes to be a substitute teacher?

Have you been considering becoming a substitute teacher?  Do you have what it takes to be a great substitute teacher?  Every day hundreds of classrooms are in the need of qualified, passionate, dedicated substitute teachers to step in when the regular teacher is absence for one reason or another.   Substitute Teachers are vital for the smooth operation of the classroom.  There is no cookie cutter formula to be a great substitute teacher, and no two classrooms are the same, but if you have the core pieces you could complete the education puzzle.

Care & Concern

Great substitute teachers have a calm patient nature, express care and concern for others, and find a way to understand the needs of the students. Do you have the ability to empathize with others?  Classrooms are filled with 20-30 individual stories, talents, challenges, needs, and desires – all which need your leadership, passion, and compassion.  Great substitutes hide daily frustrations and keep personal issues out of the classroom; however, they bring their care, passion and attention to the class each and every day.   

Many children students returning to school on a white background


To be successful as a substitute teacher, you have to be enthusiastic, adoring, and passionate about changing the lives of children through education.  Your personality, your excitement will help maintain the attention of the students in your care and could spark the flame inside of a child.  Of course, it isn’t easy to always be high energy and positive, but when the students arrive to start the day, they will need you to be the leader in the classroom.  

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.”

-Fred Rogers

Prompt and Dependable

Schools run on a tight schedule, and as such, substitute teachers must be prompt and dependable – you are the backup to the regular instructor.  Great substitute teachers will not only be prompt but early to prepare for the day ahead. 

“Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!”

Eric Jerome Dickey


Substitute Teachers need to be determined, focused, and unwavering in being a fair, firm, professional educator.  Great substitute teachers must be focused on the students at all times – they save the social media update for after class and never allow students to be unattended at any time. 

Ready to Accept a Challenge

When challenges present themselves, and they will, great substitute teachers must be ready to accept and face those challenges in a professional manner and never lose their cool.  Students can be challenging at times, and as the ‘change’ in the room, you must be willing to accept the difficult nature of the profession.   This unrelenting pledge to excellence is infectious in the classroom and can learn by example. 

Inventive and Inquisitive

Inventive and Inquisitive individuals can make powerful substitute teachers and can utilize these characteristics to maintain a high energy classroom, the student’s attention, and delivering the curriculum as assigned by the absent instructor.  These individuals will dig into their toolbox and find ways to creative ways to solve issues and address problems. 


To be a great substitute teacher, you have to be a positive person and show that positivity every day in the classroom.  Positive energy leads to positive energy – think positive, be positive towards the students in your care and they will strive to meet the expectations set before them. 

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”  

Stephen Covey


No two days will ever be exactly the same in any classroom – and the substitute teacher must be prepared to be flexible.  Great teachers have to tackle the day with a flexible nature and not be deterred by changes and challenges that occur throughout the day – all with a smile!