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Surviving Subbing

Challenges of teaching English abroad

For many TESOL teachers, the first step in their careers will involve substitute teaching.

Subbing jobs can range from last minute fill-ins for single classes to short-term contracts to cover vacations or illness.

While it can be stressful not to know where you will be teaching from one day or week to the next, making a good impression as a sub can lead to more permanent work in the future.

Here are five useful tips to help make your subbing experiences as successful (and unstressful) as possible:

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1. Try to visit the school in advanceSubbing ESL Teacher - Substitute English Teacher

If you want to work at a particular school and have been accepted onto the sub list, ask if you can come in to visit the school and observe some classes.

This will give you a chance to meet some of the teachers, know where the photocopier and resources are located, and get a feel for how things are done at the school.

It will also let you know the dress code for teachers. When you get called in to sub, you won’t feel completely lost.

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2. Get as much information as you can

Have a quick information checklist and try to fill in as much as you can before you teach. Try to find out things like:

-the number of students in the class
-student level
-what they’ve been working on
-access to VCR/CD players etc (do you need to book these, or are they in the classroom?)
-timing of breaks
-do you need a code for the photocopy

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3. Have a back-up

Develop your own sub-survival kit.

Sometimes things just don’t work out as expected, and when you’re subbing it helps to have some sure-fire activities that you are comfortable with to fall back on.

Have activities suitable for a variety of levels.

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4. Leave notes for the teacher

Let the teacher know what you covered during the class, and (if possible) that you enjoyed working with the students.

If any issues came up, let the teacher know. It’s better that he or she hears it from you than from the students.

5. Say thank-you

A quick thanks to teachers who helped you out and to the administration staff can make a good impression.

Following these tips can help you turn to sub into more permanent work, and enjoy yourself in the meantime.

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