Many people are not fans of being a substitute teacher at the high school level. This is because many substitute teachers believe that they lead the class either by intimidation or by being the class hero. Neither of these approaches work very well in high school. There are some simple guidelines that make most high school substitute teaching assignments work. For those who are making their first foray into this arena, these tips should give you help to get going in the right direction.
Always know how to get help quickly.
This may sound like the classroom environment is unsafe. For the most part, this is not true. However, as a substitute teacher, you are being placed in a room with a class of 15 to 35 teens. Some of them will be bigger than you and have attitude. The teacher will normally leave you the names of potential trouble makers, but not always.
Even if you have the list, most of the time you will not know what name goes with what student. If the school has an intercom system, familiarize yourself with how it works. If it has a phone system, make sure you have the number of the office and the classrooms next to yours. Being armed with this information will give you additional confidence in the classroom and a way to get help if an emergency arises.
Dress for success.
Clothes do not always make the man, but high school students are insecure enough to be swayed by someone who looks important. Dressing in professional looking clothes will make the students identify you with the administrators who are the law enforcement of the school system. This will give you an immediate edge in the area of classroom control.
Arrive with enough time to be prepared by the time the students come to class.
As a substitute in high school, you will be asked to teach a new group of students with every class change. This means that you need enough time to read through the notes for each class that you will face that day. Having some of the assignment written on the board for students to see as they enter the room will give the impression that this work time and not play time. If you can come across as knowing what you are doing and where you are going with the material, the class will be more likely to follow you.
It helps if you like teens.
It probably is not a requirement to like teens to teach them, but it helps. Most teens are looking for someone who cares about them personally. Saying humiliating or demeaning things to them is not a way to gain their trust. If you can project the image that you are there because you are concerned about them and want to help, it will build trust between you and the students. Once teens trust you as their teacher, you have won the battle. By genuinely liking teens, you will not find yourself dreading going into the classroom. It will also change how you interact with the students during the class time.
Follow directions and follow up.
You will be left a list of what is to be done in each class throughout the day. Give the class the assignments, tests, worksheets, and what ever else the teacher has left for you. You will sometimes be asked to teach a lesson, but not often because teachers do not know how much you understand about the specific material. If you are asked to present new material, do your best.
Leave details about how the day went for the teacher. Try to be honest with this. Do not make problems bigger than they were, but do not lie and say there were no problems if there were. Try to point out students who were helpful or uncooperative if you can determine their names or describe them adequately. Note who was absent, tardy, or left class early.
Limit the number of students who are allowed to exit the classroom.
High school students like to try to take advantage of substitute teachers and get extra trips to the bathroom, drinking fountain, and any place else that they think they can talk you into allowing. Limit the number of students out of the room at any given time to one unless you can verify that it is an emergency. Do not be afraid to tell them no or later when you need to give the class instructions about a test or an assignment.
Watch the class.
More than anything else, substitutes are being paid to keep an eye on the students. This is not the time to catch up on that novel you have been wanting to read. Avoid text messaging or talking on the cell phone. Stay where the students can see you and know that you can see them. It is easier to keep something from starting than to make it stop. Watching the class is the easiest way to control it.
Avoid personal discussions and complaining.
Students like to learn about people. They will work hard to get you to tell them all about yourself. Limit the amount of personal information that you share. You are not there to teach them about you. Avoid complaining about the regular teacher or anything that has to do with the school. When being a substitute teacher, you are there to support the teacher and the administration.