Substitute teachers are faced with the difficult task of dealing with students they have little to no information about each day at work. They do not know if they are walking into a friendly or hostile environment. They might enter a class full of students willing to learn or one where the majority of the students just do not care. Therefore, they need to have a lot of tools in their arsenal that they can use to help them deal with any situation. The following classroom management tips provide specific ideas that substitutes can use to stay in control. Note: Many of these items were inspired by information from Mr. Sturgeon's Substitute Teaching site.
1. Talk to Students Before Class StartsStand at the door and talk to students as they arrive in the class. Get to know a few of them individually before you begin the lesson. This is also a great way to get an impression of how students will react to your presence. In addition, you might find out useful information such as school assemblies that you might not have been informed about.
2. Act As the One In ControlStudents are excellent judges of character. They can tell if you do not feel confident. Enter the class as the teacher for the day, and act accordingly. If something is not going as planned or your whiteboard markers are out of ink, you will need to wing it. Don't get frantic or nervous. Transition to the next activity or come up with an alternative solution like using an overhead projector. If worse comes to worse, pull out an activity that you have prepared in case issues like this have arisen.
More Information: Battling Nerves and Anxiety
3. Don't Get Too Friendly Too QuicklyWhile you don't need to stop yourself from smiling or being kind to students, you should avoid too much friendliness when class starts. First impressions are really important for students who can quickly take advantage of any perceived weaknesses. This then leads to further disruptions as the class progresses. Get the class started and the lesson rolling, then relax a little. Remember, substituting is not a student popularity contest.
4. Stay on Top of Discipline from the First MomentYou must stay present and involved in classroom management and discipline from the first moment of the day. When the bell rings, get the students to quiet down as you take roll. You might have to stop the roll taking process a number of times to quiet the students again, but they will quickly understand your expectations. Then, as class continues, be aware of everything that is going on in the class. Stop disruptions when they are small to keep them from escalating. The quicker and less obtrusive these interventions are, the better.
More Information: Top 10 Tips for Successful Classroom Management and Discipline