15 Classroom Management Tips for Substitute Teachers




Classroom Management Tips for Substitute Teachers

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As a substitute teacher, walking into a new classroom can be a daunting experience. Classroom management is key to ensuring that the students are engaged and learning during your time with them.

It can be overwhelming to establish a rapport with students who you may only see for a short period of time. Fear not, we have got you covered.

In this blog post, we will be sharing 15 essential classroom management tips for substitute teachers.

These tips will help you create a positive and productive learning environment for your students. So grab a pen, take notes, and get ready to make an impact in the classroom.

Classroom Management Tips for Substitute Teachers

1. Establish clear expectations and rules

When you are a substitute teacher, one of the most important things you can do to manage a classroom is to establish clear expectations and rules.

First, make sure that you know the school’s rules and protocols for managing behavior in the classroom. Additionally, spend some time at the beginning of the day outlining your own expectations for the students. Be sure to communicate these expectations in a friendly and positive tone.

Using “I” statements can help to convey your expectations without sounding confrontational. For example, instead of saying “You need to be quiet during class,” try saying “I expect everyone to be respectful of each other and listen quietly during instruction.”

This helps to promote a sense of respect and cooperation in the classroom and can help students to feel more comfortable and engaged in their learning. Overall, setting clear expectations and rules is a crucial part of managing a classroom effectively as a substitute teacher.

2. Follow the teacher’s lesson plan

When you’re a substitute teacher, the most important thing to remember is to follow the teacher’s lesson plan. The teacher took the time and effort to create those plans for a reason, so be sure to read them carefully and follow them to a tee. If you have any questions or need clarification, don’t hesitate to ask the teacher or another faculty member for help.

Remember to stay on task and leave a record of what you accomplished during the day. Be sure to take attendance after the students have begun their work, so they have time to complete their tasks. It’s also important to leave detailed notes for the teacher, including any outstanding achievements or challenges faced by the students.

And don’t forget to be friendly in the faculty room. Never say anything negative about the school, teachers, or students. When you follow the teacher’s plan and prioritize classroom management, you’ll have a successful day as a substitute teacher.

3. Get to know the students and their needs

When it comes to being a substitute teacher, it’s important to make an effort to get to know your students. Take the time to learn their names and a bit about their interests. Building a rapport with them can help establish trust and make it easier to manage challenging behaviors.

Additionally, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the school’s systems and any accommodations or behavior plans that individual students may have. This can help you effectively manage the classroom and provide the necessary support.

Remember, active supervision is key – move around the room constantly and interact with the students in a respectful manner. Creating opportunities for connection and relationship-building with your students can make a significant impact on their emotional well-being and academic success. So take the time to get to know your students and make the most of your time as a substitute teacher.

4. Be firm and fair in discipline

When it comes to classroom management, discipline is a crucial component. As a substitute teacher, it’s important to be firm and fair when dealing with disciplinary issues. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable about discipline, especially if you are new to the job.

However, remember that you are responsible for maintaining order in the classroom, and you must be willing to enforce the rules. Students need structure and consistency, and they rely on you to provide it. When addressing disciplinary issues, use a friendly tone and speak calmly and clearly.

Avoid raising your voice or using negative language. Remember to be fair and consistent in your approach, and always follow the school’s policies and procedures.

By setting clear expectations and demonstrating a fair and consistent approach to discipline, you can establish a positive and productive learning environment for your students.

5. Give positive reinforcement

When you’re a substitute teacher, it’s important to give positive reinforcement to your students. Encourage good behavior by acknowledging it with praise, high-fives, or stickers.

Let them know they’re doing a great job and that you appreciate their efforts. It’s also important to be friendly and approachable. Smile and use a warm tone when speaking to your students. This will help them feel more comfortable in your classroom and more willing to engage in learning.

When giving instructions or feedback, use second-person pronouns like “you” instead of “they” to make it more personal and positive. Make sure your feedback is specific and focuses on the good things they’re doing.

Giving positive reinforcement can go a long way in building trust with your students and making your time together more enjoyable for everyone involved.

6. Maintain a positive attitude

Maintaining a positive attitude can go a long way in managing a classroom full of students. Remember, you are there to support the regular teacher and provide a positive learning environment for the students. It may be daunting but try to approach the day with a smile and a can-do attitude.

One way to maintain a positive attitude is to focus on building relationships with the students. Get to know their names, interests, and personalities. Create opportunities for icebreakers and group activities to foster a positive classroom culture.

Use positive reinforcement to praise students for their efforts and achievements. Remember, a positive attitude can set the tone for a successful day in the classroom.

7. Have a backup plan

As a seasoned sub or a newbie, it’s important to always have a backup plan. Sometimes even the most detailed lesson plans can finish early, so it’s good to have some time-fillers in your back pocket.

Whether it’s a math game or a quick writing prompt, make sure they’re engaging and educational. Additionally, make sure to take attendance after getting the kids started on the work, and leave detailed notes for the teacher about what got done or didn’t get done.

Remember to also be pleasant in the faculty room and avoid saying anything negative about the school, teachers or students.

Finally, don’t be afraid to bring your own supply of comfort items, such as hand lotion, chocolates, and tea bags. Having a mobile desk with extra paper, pencils, and other supplies can also be a lifesaver.

These tips, along with our comprehensive list, can help ensure a successful and stress-free day in the classroom.

8. Make sure students understand the consequences

Making students understand the consequences of their behavior is crucial for substitute teachers to manage their classrooms successfully. When students understand that their actions have consequences, they are more likely to behave appropriately. This helps to create a positive and productive learning environment for everyone in the classroom.

Substitute teachers can help their students understand the consequences of their behavior by setting clear expectations and rules at the beginning of the class. They can also explain the consequences of breaking those rules, such as losing privileges or facing disciplinary action.

Additionally, substitute teachers can use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior and address any negative behavior promptly and consistently.

By helping students understand the consequences of their behavior, substitute teachers can create a classroom environment that promotes learning and respect for all.

9. Encourage student engagement and participation

As a substitute teacher, managing a classroom full of students can be a daunting challenge. However, encouraging student engagement and participation can help you maintain an orderly classroom.

To do this, try to build positive relationships with your students. Get to know them by name and learn their interests. Use icebreakers and community-building activities to create a warm, welcoming environment that encourages students to participate actively.

Another essential classroom management tip is to actively supervise your students. Walk around the room, make eye contact, and engage with your students regularly in a respectful manner.

Create opportunities for students to work in groups, participate in class discussions, and engage in educational activities that are fun and involve them. This will help you keep your students from squirming in their seats and keep them engaged in the lesson.

By using these tips, you can create a classroom that is friendly, respectful, and conducive to learning. Remember, as a substitute teacher, you have the ability to make a positive impact on your students’ education and personal growth.

10. Communicate with the regular teacher

One essential tip for managing a classroom as a substitute teacher is to communicate with the regular teacher. This can help you understand the students’ needs, their personalities, and the expectations for behavior and academic progress.

When communicating with the regular teacher, use a friendly tone and show that you are committed to supporting their classroom as effectively as possible. You might ask about specific students, the curriculum for the day or week, and any potential challenges or areas of concern.

Additionally, be sure to ask about any necessary procedures or protocols, such as attendance-taking or dismissal routines.

By communicating effectively with the regular teacher, you can help ensure a smoother, more productive day in the classroom.

11. Be prepared for emergencies

When you are a substitute teacher, you must always be prepared for emergencies that may arise. It is crucial to be familiar with the school’s policies on safety and security. Take the time to locate the fire exits and first aid kit, and make sure you know what to do in case of a lockdown or other emergency.

If a situation does occur, always remain calm and follow the school’s established protocols. Notify the main office immediately and keep your students safe and secure until further instructions are given. Always err on the side of caution and put your students’ safety above anything else. Remember, you are their caretaker for the day, and their well-being is your top priority.

While it may seem daunting to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, taking these measures can give you peace of mind and help you handle any emergency with confidence. By being ready for anything, you can ensure a safe and productive day for both you and your students.

12. Use humor to diffuse tense situations

One way to handle difficult situations is by using humor as a substitute teacher. A well-timed joke or a funny story can loosen up students and make them less defensive. But be careful not to use humor that is inappropriate or offensive.

It’s important to use humor in a friendly way that shows you care about the students and are not trying to belittle them. Using a friendly tone can also help put students at ease and create a positive atmosphere in the classroom. Remember, as a substitute teacher, you are a guest in the school, and it’s important to be respectful and kind to everyone you encounter.

By using humor and a friendly tone, you can build rapport with students and make your time as a substitute teacher more enjoyable and effective.

13. Be proactive in preventing disruptions

As a substitute teacher, proactive measures to prevent disruptions in the classroom are key. Firstly, it is important to establish a positive environment and build relationships with the students. Take the time to learn their names, interests, and allow them to learn about you.

Utilize icebreakers or community-building circles to connect with students on a personal level. Secondly, familiarize yourself with the school’s systems, such as recognizing appropriate behavior, discouraging inappropriate behavior, and any individualized education plans or behavior plans for certain students. Finally, create opportunities for students to remain engaged and focused, such as interactive lessons, hands-on activities, and group discussions.

By implementing proactive measures and focusing on positive reinforcement, you can help prevent disruptions and ensure a successful substitute teaching experience.

14. Respect the classroom and materials

When you enter a classroom as a substitute teacher, remember to respect the space and materials. Treat the classroom as though it were your own and take care not to damage or disrupt any of the materials.

Be sure to follow the teacher’s plans and maintain a professional demeanor at all times. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the layout of the room and any materials or resources that may be available to you.

In addition, be sure to communicate your expectations for the class clearly and respectfully. Set clear boundaries and expectations for behavior and make it clear that any disruption or disobedience will not be tolerated. Remember to be firm but fair, and always keep the lines of communication open with both students and the teacher.

By respecting the classroom and materials, and setting clear expectations, you will be able to manage the class effectively and ensure that learning can take place in a safe and respectful environment.

15. Always be professional and respectful

When you step into a classroom as a substitute teacher, it’s important to always stay professional and respectful. Remember that you are an educator and a role model for the students in the room.

Address your students politely and address any issues with calm and controlled language. If you are facing challenging behavior, take a deep breath and try to de-escalate the situation as calmly as possible. Remember that yelling or losing your temper will only make things worse. Treat your students as individuals and respect their unique needs and learning styles.

In addition, you should also be respectful to the classroom teacher and follow their lesson plans as closely as possible. Make sure to leave detailed notes for the teacher and thank them for the opportunity to teach their class. It’s also important to stay professional with other faculty members and avoid making negative comments about the school, teachers, or students.

By maintaining a professional and respectful attitude, you’ll be setting a positive example for your students and earning their respect in return.


The 15 essential classroom management tips for substitute teachers are crucial for creating a positive and productive learning environment. As a substitute teacher, it is important to be prepared, flexible, and adaptable to ensure that students are engaged and focused on their learning. By implementing these tips, substitute teachers can establish clear expectations, build positive relationships with students, and effectively manage classroom behavior. With a proactive and positive approach, substitute teachers can foster a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes academic success and personal growth for all students.

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