blog image

my top tips for starting out as a relief teacher

December 18, 20234 min read

“Substitute teaching is not just filling in; it's about being a beacon of continuity and care in a student's ever-changing journey of learning.”

1. It can be hard when you are starting as a relief or substitute teacher.

Relief Teaching is a great way to get back into the classroom.

But what do you need?

What do you do?

What are the things that get in your way?

Well, here are some tips that I have collected over the past couple of years.

1) Get yourself organized. You shouldn't be starting out with a load of papers that you don't know what to do with. Be familiar with the material that you are going to be taking into class, and with the syllabus so that you can cross reference with any work that may have been left for your.

2) It is essential for planning out your lessons and being able to turn around quickly in case of emergencies or unscheduled absences.  It is not unusual for last minute changes being made to your day...you may be placed on another class or asked to take on a completely different role for the day.  Being flexible and having the Survival Kit to be able to deal with this is essential.

3) Don't use flash cards or booklets unless absolutely necessary. You don't want to overload your students with busy work before they've even started. Give them something real, something they can feel and understand - this is where their brains are at when they're learning!

4) Give yourself time - don't rush into teaching because it's nerve-racking or because you think being early is better. There's really no substitute for taking time to feel relaxed before teaching a class and ensuring that everything is thought through first! Otherwise, things may go horribly wrong when trying to teach without preparation!

2. There's the unknown of what class you will have, and whether you will have enough material to get you through the day.

It can be hard when you are starting as a relief or substitute teacher. There's the unknown of what class you will have.

Do you have enough material to get you through the day?

How will you get on with the other staff?

How do you make an impression on a principal so that you get callbacks?

But there is much to consider.

Once a year is time to refresh your knowledge base and try something new. Reflect on every lesson that you teach, and see how you could improve or make it differentiated in the future. Review your resources, and prioritise the ones that worked the best for you.

3. You also have to worry about how you will get on with the other staff - will they be welcoming, or will they see you as a threat?

We've all been there.

You are a new teacher who is maybe a little nervous at first but when you start, you'll find out that it isn't as hard as you thought it would be. Being a teacher can be stressful and fun at the same time. The most important thing to remember is that you have to remember that before you go out there, life is going to change and things are going to be different.

The one thing I would say that is important is: enjoy your students! Don't worry about trying to make them like you or don't worry about showing them kindness or taking care of them, because they will see that in real life and they aren't going to like it.

In the beginning, I had no idea how to deal with my students, other than just making sure they knew that I was there for them.

At first, I was scared of what people would think about me if I were a substitute teacher because I didn't know what kind of impact I would have on their lives.

But when we started working together each day, we became really good friends and we worked really well together so people began to respect me.

4. Finally, you want to make a good impression on the principal so that you get callbacks for future work

  • Be sure to go out of your way to find the Principal or Head Teacher to thank them for the opportunity to work in their school.  Be honest with your feedback particularly if there is anything that they need to be aware of eg a behaviour issue that may need to be followed up on for instance.

  • Leave detailed notes for the teacher you have replaced. Let them know what you have taught... anything that the students may have had trouble with...behaviour issues or events that may need to be followed up on.

  • Make sure all work is marked and left in full view for the teacher to find on their return.

  •  Leave the room in a neat state for the teacher on their return.

sub teachingstarting outgetting yourself organisedmanaging the overwhelm

Nikki Tester

Nikki has been a teacher for over 40 years and loves to share her knowledge with new and seasoned teachers alike

Back to Blog
blog image

my top tips for starting out as a relief teacher

December 18, 20234 min read

“Substitute teaching is not just filling in; it's about being a beacon of continuity and care in a student's ever-changing journey of learning.”

1. It can be hard when you are starting as a relief or substitute teacher.

Relief Teaching is a great way to get back into the classroom.

But what do you need?

What do you do?

What are the things that get in your way?

Well, here are some tips that I have collected over the past couple of years.

1) Get yourself organized. You shouldn't be starting out with a load of papers that you don't know what to do with. Be familiar with the material that you are going to be taking into class, and with the syllabus so that you can cross reference with any work that may have been left for your.

2) It is essential for planning out your lessons and being able to turn around quickly in case of emergencies or unscheduled absences.  It is not unusual for last minute changes being made to your day...you may be placed on another class or asked to take on a completely different role for the day.  Being flexible and having the Survival Kit to be able to deal with this is essential.

3) Don't use flash cards or booklets unless absolutely necessary. You don't want to overload your students with busy work before they've even started. Give them something real, something they can feel and understand - this is where their brains are at when they're learning!

4) Give yourself time - don't rush into teaching because it's nerve-racking or because you think being early is better. There's really no substitute for taking time to feel relaxed before teaching a class and ensuring that everything is thought through first! Otherwise, things may go horribly wrong when trying to teach without preparation!

2. There's the unknown of what class you will have, and whether you will have enough material to get you through the day.

It can be hard when you are starting as a relief or substitute teacher. There's the unknown of what class you will have.

Do you have enough material to get you through the day?

How will you get on with the other staff?

How do you make an impression on a principal so that you get callbacks?

But there is much to consider.

Once a year is time to refresh your knowledge base and try something new. Reflect on every lesson that you teach, and see how you could improve or make it differentiated in the future. Review your resources, and prioritise the ones that worked the best for you.

3. You also have to worry about how you will get on with the other staff - will they be welcoming, or will they see you as a threat?

We've all been there.

You are a new teacher who is maybe a little nervous at first but when you start, you'll find out that it isn't as hard as you thought it would be. Being a teacher can be stressful and fun at the same time. The most important thing to remember is that you have to remember that before you go out there, life is going to change and things are going to be different.

The one thing I would say that is important is: enjoy your students! Don't worry about trying to make them like you or don't worry about showing them kindness or taking care of them, because they will see that in real life and they aren't going to like it.

In the beginning, I had no idea how to deal with my students, other than just making sure they knew that I was there for them.

At first, I was scared of what people would think about me if I were a substitute teacher because I didn't know what kind of impact I would have on their lives.

But when we started working together each day, we became really good friends and we worked really well together so people began to respect me.

4. Finally, you want to make a good impression on the principal so that you get callbacks for future work

  • Be sure to go out of your way to find the Principal or Head Teacher to thank them for the opportunity to work in their school.  Be honest with your feedback particularly if there is anything that they need to be aware of eg a behaviour issue that may need to be followed up on for instance.

  • Leave detailed notes for the teacher you have replaced. Let them know what you have taught... anything that the students may have had trouble with...behaviour issues or events that may need to be followed up on.

  • Make sure all work is marked and left in full view for the teacher to find on their return.

  •  Leave the room in a neat state for the teacher on their return.

sub teachingstarting outgetting yourself organisedmanaging the overwhelm

Nikki Tester

Nikki has been a teacher for over 40 years and loves to share her knowledge with new and seasoned teachers alike

Back to Blog