Keeping students engaged and motivated is essential for academic achievement, but reaching so many students with diverse personalities and abilities can be a challenge, especially as a substitute teacher. Exceptional substitute teachers motivate students to learn and keep them engaged for the long haul by using some pedagogical basics, such as research-based instructional strategies and empowering classroom management techniques that encourage students to get actively involved as self-regulating learners.
Powerful Learning Strategies That Impact Student Achievement
When a professional substitute teacher enters the classroom, they bring knowledge and skills that can be applied in a variety of grade levels and content areas. With some powerful learning strategies, they can motivate students and keep them actively engaged.
In order to gain students’ cooperation and willingness to learn, good substitute teachers work to build relationships. They treat students as individuals with likes and dislikes, needs and interests. Though substitutes generally spend less time with students, they can still convey the respect that builds trust and compliance.
Getting them hooked
When lessons begin with an anticipatory set, teachers make a conscious effort to pique students’ curiosity. Once they are hooked, the lesson can proceed with the students’ full attention. The hook could be a photograph, an object, or even an intriguing question that gets them thinking and wondering what comes next. Creating an engaging anticipatory set requires nothing more than a bit of creativity.
Activating prior knowledge
For students to learn new content, it is most effective when they can anchor it to something they already know and understand. When substitutes tell students what the lesson makes them think of, it starts the conversation. Helping students make connections is a brain-based strategy that provides a foundation for new learning.
Teaching two kinds of vocabulary
Lessons often contain subject-specific vocabulary that students must understand in order to learn new content. But defining these terms and providing examples only covers a fraction of the words students will need to know. Exceptional substitute teachers also teach academic vocabulary, those terms like explain, contrast, and identify, that students will certainly encounter on assessments. Teaching the meaning of academic vocabulary words is essential for improving students’ academic achievement.
Allowing for brain breaks
When students sit for long periods of time, there may be diminishing returns. Substitutes acquainted with brain-based learning know that students benefit from taking short breaks that allow some movement. By scheduling a five-minute exercise or mindfulness activity like those provided on Go Noodle, they maximize students’ capacity to learn.
Managing cooperative learning
Children are social by nature, and though it takes a little finesse to manage, knowledgeable substitutes see the value in cooperative learning. Through the give and take of academic discourse, students remain engaged in learning, By establishing ground rules and circulating throughout the room, substitute teachers can manage this active learning effectively.
Giving timely feedback
Exceptional substitutes know that it is essential to regularly check for student understanding. Rather than praise or judgment, effective feedback helps students take the next step toward reaching their learning target.
Providing time for reflection
Reflecting back is an effective way to consolidate what we have learned. For this reason, lesson closures often ask students to summarize what they learned. Having a few good reflection questions in their toolbox allows substitute teachers to apply this strategy in any classroom.
Ensuring That Substitutes Have the Tools They Need
The best way to ensure that substitute teachers have the techniques and strategies to improve students’ academic achievement is to provide customized training. A sure-fire way to accomplish this is by partnering with a staffing agency that shares your passion for education. Through face-to-face training with experienced educators, new recruits will learn classroom management and instructional techniques that maximize learning.
Although many substitute-student encounters are brief, they should be impactful. With specialized training, your substitute teachers can add value and provide continuity when teacher absences occur. Highly qualified substitutes can be valued team members in your district’s quest to improve students’ academic achievement.
Look for an education-exclusive talent agency known for both thorough induction training and ongoing opportunities to learn. Choose one that provides continuous oversight and management of your substitute teacher pool. A company that values and nurtures professional substitutes will ensure that they are adequately trained to make a difference for your district.
Contact ESS for comprehensive training that empowers substitute teachers to positively impact student achievement. Let us provide customized orientation that acclimates new hires to your district and its academic goals.
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.