How Do I Become a Substitute Teacher?

Learn how to get started as a substitute teacher in your local school district. Read on for more information about application and state requirements, job duties and professional challenges. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Research What Substitute Teachers Do

Before you begin to fill out a job application, you might want to see if substitute teaching is a good fit for you. Becoming a school volunteer may help you determine if you like working with students and if you're comfortable in a classroom atmosphere. These visits can give you visibility and networking opportunities around the school as teachers and administrators learn your name and face.

As a substitute teacher, you'll ensure the continuity of education by performing an absent teacher's duties for a day or more. You may be called to teach on short notice, in which case you'll have to quickly familiarize yourself with the lesson plans. In addition to having a flexible schedule, you will also need to provide adequate supervision to a classroom full of students.

Learn About State Requirements for Substitute Teachers.

Although educational requirements vary by state, many states require you to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some states require substitute teachers to have bachelor's degrees or at least some college-level experience. School districts often have additional requirements, so you may have to meet other qualifications, such as submitting to a background check, completing a certificate program or passing basic skills tests. You can contact your local school district to familiarize yourself with its specific requirements.

Apply for Substitute Teacher Positions

The substitute teacher application process can also vary according to state, but applications for most school districts are available on the school district's website or from the school where you'd like teach. Supporting documentation, including high school or college transcripts, may be required. You might find it helpful to know beforehand which subjects and grade levels you'd like to teach. A school's principal may need to nominate you before your application is processed.

Once your application has been accepted, you may have to pass through an interview stage. Some states will also require you to successfully complete a short training program. You could be able to bypass this training requirement if you have a teaching license or the necessary experience.

Begin Teaching

As you start substitute teaching, you might encounter challenges in different schools and classrooms. The Substitute Teaching Division recommends that you try to stay consistent, patient and fair as well as keep a sense of humor (www.stedi.org). When you gain experience and recognition in your school district, the demand for your skills may grow. Your substitute teaching ventures also represent a possible avenue toward becoming a regular teacher.

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