How to Earn Respect as a Substitute Teacher

Maintain eye contact with students to convey confidence.
Maintain eye contact with students to convey confidence. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Earning respect as a substitute teacher is often challenging, as the students do not know you and you do not know them. The regular teacher you are substituting for typically has had weeks to earn respect from the students, but you must earn the respect in a much shorter period of time to avoid problems in the classroom. Confidence and a professional attitude help you gain students' respect, and some additional preparation can make a successful classroom experience.

Dress professionally, even for a relaxed school. Children make quick first impressions, and casual clothing may signal a casual attitude to the students. Use professional clothes to set a tone of authority when you walk into the classroom.

Write a list of rules on paper. Keep the list brief, as the students need to remember all of the rules you set that day. Set at least three to show you are serious and to maintain control over the classroom. Bring the paper with you to the class as a reminder.

Arrive at least 30 minutes early. Read the school and classroom rules. Not knowing and not following the same rules the children do loses you respect. Use the regular teacher's planner to determine where the children are in their studies.

Introduce yourself clearly. Maintain eye contact and use a firm tone of voice to convey authority to the students. Go over the rules you wrote to establish order and expectations. Write them on the whiteboard or put them in a visible place.

Ask the students if you are unsure about a classroom procedure or matter. Students might be more likely to respect a substitute teacher who asks for assistance rather than trying to guess.

Keep a positive attitude. Do not yell at students or make negative remarks about the school or regular teacher, even if you have reason to do so.

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