Classroom management is the ability to maintain order so that learning can happen, and it is something every substitute teacher needs to have a firm grasp on if they are to succeed. Since substitute teachers typically accept a new challenge each day, the ability to take charge at the outset of each assignment is essential. Whether working with elementary, middle, or high school students, expertise and comfort working with large groups of youngsters is a must.
Best Practices in Classroom Management
The continuity of meaningful instruction depends on effective classroom management. Here are a few best practices substitute teachers often employ to keep things moving in the right direction.
Reference classroom rules and expectations
When they remind students of the regular classroom rules, substitutes draw students back to their familiar routine, setting the stage for a successful day. Referencing classroom rules and expectations helps students to recall and act accordingly.
Substitutes with expert classroom management have a basic understanding of child development and use this to guide their practice. Making no assumptions about students’ prior knowledge, they model the desired behavior to establish expectations. This proactive approach prevents a lot of problems before they occur.
When giving directions, the best practice is clear and concise. Experienced substitutes are aware that individual students have a variety of learning styles and abilities, so they circulate afterward to make clarifications one-on-one.
Seize on the positive
The old adage “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” applies in the classroom too. Recognizing students who are on task is much more effective than directing corrections at those who are not. Positive feedback will encourage everyone, while relying on negative feedback may risk damaging a mood of upbeat learning.
Substitutes should discuss problems with disruptive students one-on-one. This not only prevents embarrassment for the student, but also allows substitute teachers to address negative behavior without spotlighting it or involving the whole class.
Keep students busy
Actively engaged students are less likely to look for mischief or get caught up with distractions. Some teachers will leave extra work just in case students speed through their assignments, but it’s always advised that substitutes have a few backup activities in their arsenal.
Substitute teachers can successfully engage students and get their own questions answered by empowering student helpers. This is an especially effective technique when used with students who are off-task or starting to cause a disruption. Giving them a job to do can derail misbehavior quickly.
Why Classroom Management is Critical
A lot of people are depending on substitute teachers to provide competent classroom management. When requesting a substitute, teachers are looking for a capable and authoritative stand-in to care for their students, safeguard their classroom, and continue meaningful instruction in their absence.
Administrators expect a qualified professional to manage student behavior effectively in the classroom and throughout the school building. Parents expect that their children are safe and in good hands every day, even when the teacher is absent. And last, but certainly not least, the students need a fair and caring adult to support the consistency and security that their school day routine typically represents.
So how do districts ensure that the substitutes they hire are experts in classroom management? By working with a substitute teacher staffing agency that offers preparatory training to its pool. By partnering with such an agency, schools can be proactive about influencing the competence of their substitute staff.
With carefully designed training that includes classroom and behavior management, substitute teachers are more confident and students respond accordingly. When a well-trained substitute is deployed, teachers, parents, and administrators are left with the impression of a strong and positive classroom manager.
Contact ESS to provide properly trained substitute teachers for your district. With ongoing and interactive opportunities to learn best practices in instructional AND classroom management skills, they will continue to grow and refine their professional skills.
Phil has been supporting school districts across the country for more than 12 years. He works hands-on with districts implementing customized solutions to improve their substitute teacher and support staff programs. When he’s not increasing districts’ fill rates, Phil can be found swinging his clubs on a golf course.