Misconception #1: “As a substitute teacher, my primary responsibility is to baby sit the students.”
Get it Right: You are a highly valued, qualified teacher. The permanent teacher is counting on you to engage the students in relevant, rigorous schoolwork. Although you may not feel like a content area expert (especially if you have accepted a position as a substitute teacher of a subject in which you are not certified), by using appropriate instructional strategies, you can conduct a meaningful lesson.
Misconception #2: “I cannot teach a subject other than that in which I am certified.”
Get it Right: For day-to-day substitute teaching assignments, you certainly can teach a subject other than that in which you are certified. The key is to familiarize yourself with numerous instructional strategies that you can employ no matter what subject area or grade level you are teaching. Instructional strategies like those presented on this website are general and can be adapted to meet the needs of all learners.
Misconception #3: “Reading strategies should only be used in reading class.”
Get it Right: Reading is an essential part of life. Reading occurs in all grade levels and across all content areas. To strengthen student literacy and boost students’ performance on the PSSA, you can use a reading strategy that helps students comprehend challenging text on any subject.
Misconception #4: “As a substitute teacher, I have to entertain the students all day long.”
Get it Right: The best lessons are often those during which the students participate actively under the supervision of their teacher. Because students only retain approximately five percent of the information presented via lecture, many teachers choose to facilitate learning activities in lieu of deliver content directly. By using instructional strategies to meet the needs of all learners, you can arrange for a student-centered lesson during which the focus is on the discovery and sharing of new ideas among students.
Misconception #5: Many substitutes who may only have a class for 45 minutes declare, “There is nothing I can do when students defy my role as a teacher because they have made up their minds that I am ‘only a sub’.”
Get it Right: Sure, this is true for a few students – but do not let those few students bog down your energies. Stay positive and remember to Praise the students that are behaving appropriately and ready to learn.
Misconception#6: I am only a substitute. The teacher only expects me to fill the desk and keep the children safe.
Get it Right: Substitutes fill 10% of teaching positions daily and are highly valued. Districts are finding the supply of substitutes is down and the demand is up. In order to help remedy this problem, many districts have redefined the qualifications for substitutes as well as increased the daily pay rate. You are important. You are needed to minimize the potential disruption in learning that happens when regular teachers cannot be present.
Misconception #7: How can I be positive when some students behave so inappropriately?
Get it Right: Ignoring negative behavior does not mean you are endorsing it. By placing your attitude and energies towards attempts to stop negative behaviors, you forget to place emphasis on the children that are behaving positively. Give your attention to the children that are ready and behaving appropriately.