With a new year comes new ambitions that everyone sets out to accomplish. Whether you’ve been subbing for years or you’re just starting out, this is a great time to take a moment to set some career goals for 2020. Below, we’ve compiled some example goals that will not only benefit the students and teachers you’re working with but can also help you evolve as a substitute teacher.
Take on more assignments than you did last year.
One of the major perks of substitute teaching is having the flexibility to work whenever you choose. If you’re feeling ambitious, strive to take on more assignments than you did last year! You’re providing a highly valuable service as a substitute teacher, and the schools you work for will appreciate your increased commitment. Working more frequently will not only earn you a higher paycheck, but it will also expand your professional network and sharpen your teaching skills. Just like with any other skill or practice – the more you do it, the better you become. Furthermore, the better you become, the more likely you are to enjoy what you do!
Step out of your comfort zone.
You may be someone who enjoys teaching the same grades or subjects at a single school for every assignment you accept. There’s nothing wrong with this approach to substitute teaching. In fact, it’s a great way to build relationships with students and staff while becoming more confident with specific subject material.
On the flip side, there’s no better time than the new year to step out of your comfort zone and try new things! Challenge yourself to work at a new school this year or take on a new grade level or subject matter. Use this tactic to broaden your knowledge, experience, and professional connections. The good news is, when you’re a daily substitute, nothing is permanent. If you take a risk and it’s not for you, you never have to repeat the experience! It may seem intimidating at first but could be rewarding in the end.
For aspiring teachers, working diverse assignments is a smart strategy to narrow down the grade level or subject you’d like to pursue in the future. Even if you think you have it all figured out, it can’t hurt to try something new. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover a new passion for an age group or subject you would’ve never expected! Not to mention, making a name for yourself at different schools improves your chances of landing a permanent position. A principal who knows you is much more likely to consider you for an opening, which could open doors to endless opportunities in your future.
Go the extra mile.
Imagine doing something that stands out in the eyes of administrators, teachers, and students. For instance, it’s best practice for a substitute to leave a note at the end of the day, outlining what was covered and how the students behaved. Many substitute teachers only leave behavioral concerns, but what if you went the extra mile and left some compliments for the class? Positivity can go a long way! Other ideas include preparing a backup plan of educational activities and games in case the lesson plans don’t fill the entire day or putting forth a bit of extra effort to get to know the students in your care (see #4 of our Substitute Teacher Goals).
Showing that you care for a class and the teacher you’re representing for the day can go a long way. Teachers typically don’t have these expectations for their subs when they’re out. Therefore, doing something to show how prepared you are or how you care for their students will be immensely appreciated! It may require a little extra work, but it will pay off in the end. Plus, when you make a strong impression, the teacher will be more likely to request you the next time they’re absent.
Learn your students’ names for the day.
When you’re a daily substitute, learning a whole new class of students’ names each day can be daunting – but it’s well worth the effort. This is especially true in the elementary setting where you have the same students in your classroom all day. Acknowledging students by name will show you care about them and that you’re invested in their learning. Students will feel special and more comfortable around you, which in turn will make for a more productive learning day.
To help achieve this substitute teacher goal, you can start the day off with a round of introductions. (You may even make a game of it if your schedule allows!) If students don’t already have name tags on their desks, you can ask them to make a temporary one out of a sheet of paper, or you can refer to a classroom seating chart if available. When students raise their hands throughout the day, you can ask that they state their name before volunteering a response. The more you hear, see, and use their names, the more familiar you’ll become!
Take on last-minute assignments when possible.
Teachers are not always able to provide ample notice before calling out. We all know that circumstances occur at the most inconvenient times and cannot be controlled. Whether it’s an emergency, car trouble, illness, etc., things don’t always go according to plan. Unfortunately, these inevitable situations put schools in a tough spot trying to secure last-minute coverage.
As a substitute, you have the unique ability to ensure students receive the coverage they need by taking on these last-minute assignments when you can. Although this may not be the most convenient option for you, it will tremendously help the school in need, and the school will be grateful. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your impressive work ethic and loyalty to the school, helping you to build strong rapport and stand out among substitutes.
Make 2020 the best year in your substitute career by working toward these substitute teacher goals or making some of your own!