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How do I become a substitute teacher? > Miscellaneous > Substitute Teaching Emergency Kit
How do I become a substitute teacher?What does a substitute teacher do?
How do I maintain classroom discipline?What do I do with these lesson plans?
Reasons to Sub
Subbing can be a great way to earn extra money while you are between jobs. The pay is generally higher than that for other temp jobs, due largely to the fact that substitute teachers are "unemployed" during summers and holidays. If you are looking for a long-term teaching position, substituting can give you a chance to check out different schools and teaching styles without being forced to commit. Likewise, you can have a chance to impress a school (and drop off a resume in person).
Reasons Not to Sub
If you have little patience, do not become a substitute teacher. If you cannot think quickly on your feet, do not become a substitute teacher. If you genuinely dislike children, do not become a substitute teacher. If you cannot tolerate being disliked, do not become a substitute teacher.
Most states require that all substitute teachers have at least a bachelor's degree and a state-issued substitute teaching license. Your bachelors degree can be in anything, and will be used to assign you a general area of expertise. For example, if your B.A. is in Political Science, who will be certified to substitute for Social Studies. However, your license lets you substitute in any classroom, so regardless of what area you are certified to substitute teach, you may find yourself being assigned somewhere else.

You can apply for a sub license on your own, or your hiring school (or school district) might handle the process for you. Expect to pay at least $50.00 out of your own pocket for the sub license. For links to individual state certification agencies, click here.
Background Check
Anyone working with or around children has to be fingerprinted and submit to a background check.  If the only things on your record are a few old speeding tickets, you are fine. However, if you ever received a D.U.I. conviction or were found guilty of serious crimes (assault, etc.), forget it--you will be deemed unfit to work with kids. Fingerprinting typically costs around $100.00, and other background checks range from $10.00 to $50.00.

When you calculate the cost of a license, fingerprinting, and background check, you can easily spend $200.00 before you start working.
Applying to a School or District
Many school districts employ a pool of substitute teachers, and coordinate sub placements from a single office. In other districts, individual schools employ their own sub pools. Private schools (parochial, college preparatory, charter, etc.) may use a district-wide system, or may hire substitute teachers through a temporary agency.

Examine the types of schools in your area and decide which best meets your needs. If you are willing to commute, look at areas outside of your immediate community.

You may consider applying to more than one agency, district, or school in order to increase your chances of being placed on a daily basis. However, be aware that certain employers might penalize you for this. For example, a school may drop your name from its call list if you decline ten offers in a semester or school year. Likewise, sticking with an agency or district could land you a long-term sub position with higher pay.
Educate Yourself
Many substitutes (and regular teachers) mistakenly believe that the schools they attended represent the norm, and find other schools to be weird, strange, or just plain wrong. The reality is that different types of schools and different philosophies of education have been around longer than any of us. Ph.D.s in Education differ on which educational philosophies are best, so none of us can be expected to know the answers to these questions.

What is true is that substitute teachers must follow the general practices in place at the schools where they are placed. This means that a good substitute teacher is at least somewhat aware of what these styles are. You may have learned well in a classroom with neatly ordered rows of desks, but this will leave you unprepared for a Montessori high school classroom with sofas, tables, comfy chairs, etc.
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Dr. Martin Luther King Crossword Puzzle Worksheet > Miscellaneous > Substitute Teaching Emergency Kit