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For Substitute Teachers

Retaining Substitute Teachers – Webinar

By For Substitute Teachers

This webinar focuses on understanding who is in the SubPool, ways to encourage them to take more assignments, and how to retain them. We’ll also discuss ways to increase fill rates.


The webinar and discussion will be lead by
Geoffrey Smith
Founding and former director of the Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State University,
Current director of



Retaining Substitute Teachers Survey (Draft) – Please note that the blank pages contained answers that were open-ended and were too numerous to add to the document. If you would like to conduct this survey in your organization/district, please contact me for the link.

Click here for the Webinar Notes



Remember the action items from this webinar:

  • District “Sub”Committee
  • Conduct a STEDI survey for your district – email:
  • Post SubEssentials on your Website –
  • Raise pay when tied to training
  • SubReady –
  • SubRecognition –
  • Attend SubSolutions –

To learn additional strategies for retaining substitute teachers, register for the Fill-Rate Academy.

Training Your Substitute Teachers: The Four Principles of Human Behavior

By For Substitute Teachers

You can manage student behavior properly only by first managing your own behavior.


At STEDI, we train substitute teachers across the USA.

To learn about our online or printed courses, please email or call 435-755-7800 or visit


Research has shown that, on average, a student spends over one full year with a substitute teacher by the time the student graduates from high school.

Successful substitute teachers are those who have either consciously, or subconsciously, mastered necessary skills and classroom techniques.

This newsletter will give you ideas that have been researched, documented, and field-tested since 1976.

The skills presented in this newsletter (and future newsletters) are statistically proven to prevent 94% of inappropriate student behavior and provides strategies to handle the remaining 6%.


Research Findings:

Substitutes: The number one request by substitutes is to be trained in the skills to successfully manage inappropriate behavior situations.

Administration: The number one request by permanent teachers and school personnel is that substitute teachers be prepared and professional.

Students: The number one request by students is that substitute teachers present stimulating lessons and exciting fill-in activities.

As you share these time-tested techniques, your substitute teachers will increase their ability to:

  • Effectively get and keep students on task
  • Maintain a risk-free environment
  • Communicate expectations
  • Respond non-coercively to consequential behavior

We will share four principles. Principles are truths not limited by age, time, location, or situation. It is impossible to write a newsletter that covers every classroom scenario substitutes may encounter as a teacher. Thus, substitutes must be principle-based.

When substitutes know and understand these principles, their actions can change, increasing the likelihood that the students will behave appropriately.

Principle #1
Behavior is largely a product of its immediate environment.

The teacher creates the classroom environment through the expectations they set. The environment influences students more than outside factors do.

This environment allows teachers to control and influence the students’ behavior in their classrooms.

If a student is acting out, the teacher should pay special attention to altering the classroom environment. If the teacher changes the classroom, the behavior of the students will change.

Principle #2
Behavior is strengthened or weakened by its consequences.

When disruptive behavior becomes a pattern, it is important to take a look at what is happening immediately after the behavior.

Attention from a teacher is a powerful motivator for most students. If the substitute pays more attention to students who are behaving appropriately than to students who are not, they will be encouraging appropriate behavior.

Principle #3
Behavior ultimately responds better to positive than to negative consequences.

People respond better to positive encouragement than to negative processes.

Think of the tasks you do every day; if someone thanks you or compliments you on how well you did, you feel much more likely to continue the task.

Substitute teachers can help stop undesirable behavior and increase appropriate behavior by genuinely reinforcing the latter.

Principle #4
Whether a behavior has been punished or reinforced is known only by the course of that behavior in the future.

If inappropriate behavior is repeated, it has been reinforced. If an undesirable behavior is repeated, it too has been reinforced. If an undesirable behavior has discontinued, it has been properly disciplined.

The only way to tell if a response to a behavior is punishing or reinforcing is to watch what happens to the behavior in the future. What is considered a punishment to one person may reinforce and perpetuate a behavior in another.

Understanding these four principles of human behavior is a key to success in the classroom.

As substitute teachers work to fully apply and practice each one, they will feel con dent when approaching the classroom because they can make correct decisions about managing behavior.

The most important thing to remember about each of these principles is that they are a call to action on the teachers’ part. They can manage student behavior properly only by first managing their own.

How to teach these principles to your substitutes

Your substitutes will learn and, more importantly, retain this information best through active participation. You do not expect your teachers to lecture, so do not use a lecture format in training. Engage them.

When teaching these principles, modeling the way you expect your substitutes to teach is the most powerful method you can use in your training sessions.

Your example can show substitute teachers how to use the teaching tools from this newsletter to actively engage the students they will work with. We welcome your ideas and suggestions about this newsletter!


SubSolutions 2017
Substitute Teacher Manager Conference
Learn how to attract, train, and retain the best substitute teachers.
June 28-30 • Park City, Utah
Enroll at

Learn More

By For Substitute Teachers

For Managers of Substitute Teachers

Best for RecruitingSubEssentials

The best way to encourage yet set expectations for those individuals who are considering becoming a substitute teacher is to have them complete the FREE 90-minute SubEssentials online course. Applicants can download the SubEssentials eBook, then watch the 24-minute SubEssentials video and learn that you expect them to teach and not babysit. Post the link on your application page, and you’ll immediately notice a difference in your applicants!

Send your subs to:

Best for Training

SubSkills ImageTrain and screen your substitute teachers prior to employment with the 8-10 hour SubSkills Online or Live Training course. This university-based course provides the skills for classroom management and the techniques to implement a lesson plan left by the permanent teacher, plus a lot, lot more.

By rewarding individuals who step up on their own and take the training by hiring them first or giving them preferred placement on jobs, substitute teachers will be more than willing to invest in training. The substitute teacher wins with better skills to enjoy the day, you win with fewer complaints and a better prepared staff, and most of all, the students win by not losing a valuable day!

Developed at the Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State University, SubSkills is a must for every non-certified substitute teacher.

Send your subs to:


Best for Retaining Substitute TeachersSubWise for Substitute Teachers

Keep your substitute teachers learning and improving this year and every year with SubWise, the year-long e-mentoring course that provides gentle guidance and encouragement each week. Substitute teachers will feel like they are part of the professional development community, will reinforce what they learned in SubSkills, and will feel appreciated by the district. Everyone needs this kind of encouragement including both new and veteran teachers.

Call for quantity pricing 800-922-4693
ext 2014.

Or email:



Attract more substitute teacher applicants on your website – Webinar

By For Substitute Teachers
Best wording to attract substitute teachersAre you turning away potential applicants?
Are you attracting the individuals who would make great substitute teachers?


This Webinar Took Place:

February 17, 2015
1pm EST


This webinar discusses simple ways to encourage individuals to apply to become substitute teachers and to make a difference in the classroom. Your need to hire those who will help reduce the number of classes going uncovered can be met with these few changes.

You may also post your questions for others to help answer during the 30-minute webinar.

Register today to ensure you have your seat reserved.

Link to suggested website wording

Click here to Download the Handouts



More Information for Administrators

  • Which choice best represents you?
  • Please click "Submit" only once.


Becoming Requested as a Substitute Teacher

By For Substitute Teachers13 Comments

Becoming a substitute teacher who is requested is a goal for many. Recently I asked substitute teachers what they did to become requested, and here is a list of their suggestions. What would you add?

  • Go the extra mile.
  • Ask if you are needed to perform extra activities, i.e. bus duty or lunch duty.
  • Email or leave a very detailed report of how the day went.
  • Volunteer to help in other classes when on a prep period.
  • Be positive to students, other teachers, administrators, and office staff. Smile and say “thank you” a lot.
  • Develop a business card with your name and contact information.
  • You could also note that you are, “Available on short notice.”
  • Introduce yourself to other people in the building.
  • Leave a list of students who were on-task and helpful instead of a list of students who were off-task.
  • If you have a degree in music or art, or some specific skill, be sure to contact teachers who teach that content area specifically.
  • Attend conferences and things that you know teachers where teachers will be.
  • Work to improve your classroom management skills.
  • Dress professionally. Even on “casual Fridays.”
  • Follow the lesson plans.
  • As a substitute teacher I am not sure how important the work is for the whole unit, so I do exactly what the permanent teacher asks me.
  • Leave the classroom as clean as you found it.
  • Ask the secretary if there is a preferred list and if s/he would put you on it, if s/he feels comfortable.
  • It takes time to become trusted as a substitute teacher, so go to the same schools as often as you can.
  • Be positive when in the teacher’s lounge.
  • Grade papers when possible; alphabetize assignments to make grading easier for the permanent teacher.
  • Arrive 20 minutes early to substitute teaching assignments.
  • Volunteer time without pay.
  • Network with teachers.
  • Always have extra activities available in case there is extra time in the class period.
  • Teach in special education classes.
  • Be cheerful when the school secretary calls you.
  • Thank him/her for giving you the opportunity to teach.
  • Tell the students if they want you to come back to let their teacher know.
  • Be a team player.
  • Be more helpful than is required.
  • Attend extra-curricular events so teachers, students, and staff can get used to seeing you around.
  • Brush up on your math skills, not many substitute teachers enjoy teaching math.
  • Carry a SubPack with you to substitute teaching jobs.
  • Just do a really good job.

What else would you add? Share your ideas below.

What Should I Include in my SubPack?

By For Substitute Teachers

Great question!

Here are some ideas:

Clipboard: Carrying a clipboard provides quick access to a seating chart, the roll, and anecdotal records, as well as creates a sense of authority.

Disposable Gloves & Plastic Bags: Whenever you encounter blood or bodily fluids you should wear disposable gloves to help safeguard against many of today’s medical concerns. A plastic bag can be used in an emergency when you must dispose of items exposed to blood or bodily fluids.

Newspaper: A newspaper can be used as the basis for a story starter, spelling review, current events discussion, and a host of other activities

Props: A puppet, magic trick, or even a set of juggling props can capture students’ interest. Props provide great motivation for students to complete assignments to further participate in, learn more about, or to see additional prop related activities.

Tangrams: Tangrams are geometric shapes that can be used as filler activities, as well as instructional material to teach shapes and geometry

Tickets: Tickets are a great way to reward students for appropriate behavior. Students can use tickets to enter an end-of-the-day drawing or redeem them for special privileges and prizes

SubPack Ideas PDF

What else would you add? Share your ideas as a comment below.