What are the substitute teacher essential skills?

Substitute teacher demonstrating effective classroom management, engaging with diverse students in a positive and inclusive learning environment.
Explore the world of substitute teaching and uncover the essential skills that can truly make a difference. In this guide, we delve into substitute teacher essential skills, focusing on effective management, communication, adaptability, and more. Elevate your teaching journey with practical insights that will empower you in the classroom.

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Understanding the Role of a Substitute Teacher 

Image featuring a substitute teacher engaged with students in a dynamic classroom environment, embodying the roles of routine maintenance, learning facilitation, and creating a supportive atmosphere. The teacher is actively communicating and fostering a positive learning environment.


When stepping into the shoes of a permanent teacher, the duties of a substitute teacher extend far beyond simply taking attendance and supervising the class. You’re not just a placeholder during the regular teacher’s absence you play a significant role in shaping the students’ learning experience. Let’s delve deeper into the task specifics of a substitute teacher. 

Maintaining Classroom Routine 

A significant part of a substitute teacher’s role is to ensure continuity in the classroom routine. It’s all about creating an environment that maximizes students’ engagement and learning potential. You’re there to prevent interruptions in the teaching schedule and maintain the pace at which the usual teacher has guided the students. 

Facilitating Learning 

Much like a regular teacher, substitute teachers must also be proficient at facilitating learning. This means not only presenting the day’s lesson but also aiding the students in understanding it. Whether leading a math lesson or conducting a science experiment, the purpose remains constant – ensuring students comprehend and apply the lesson. 

Creating a Supportive Environment 

The sudden change in teaching styles can sometimes unsettle students, and a good substitute teacher can quickly integrate themselves into the existing learning community and create a supportive and inclusive atmosphere. You should work towards making all students feel comfortable, safe, and ready to participate in activities and discussions. 

Communication 

If there’s one thing substitute teachers encounter often, it’s a wide array of personalities in their students. Effective communication is very important in managing the various dynamics of a classroom. Substitute teachers need to be able to communicate clearly and confidently, and also be good listeners, to assist the needs of the students. 

Now that you have a better perception of the responsibilities involved in being a substitute teacher, let’s explore the necessary skills needed for the role in the next section of the article.

Steps to Getting Certified as a Substitute Teacher


Preparing to become a substitute teacher requires diligence and dedication. We’ve outlined the typical process to help guide you on your path. 

Before stepping into the role of a substitute teacher, you must first fulfil specific requirements. This process varies from state to state, but here are some of the common steps you can expect to follow: 

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: While some states require a bachelor’s degree, others only ask for some form of higher education, and a few don’t require any degree at all. It is essential to verify the requirements in your state. 
  2. Complete a Substitute Teacher Program: Some states require the completion of a certificate or training program specifically for substitute teachers, either before or after earning a degree. 
  3. Pass a Background Check: No matter where you are, a background check is a must for any potential teacher. This will be organised by the education office in your state before you are able to obtain a teaching licence. This also includes obtaining a  
  4. Obtain a Substitute Teaching License: Once you’ve completed the necessary education and passed a background check, you can apply for a substitute teaching license in your state. The application process will typically involve submitting an application form, paying a fee, and providing proof of education and a clear background check. 
  5. Gain Classroom Experience: Many schools prefer their substitute teachers to have some classroom experience. Volunteer or intern at a local school to familiarize yourself with the school environment before becoming a certified substitute teacher. 
Remember, each state has its unique requirements, so it’s critical to research the specific steps for where you plan to teach. Becoming a substitute teacher is a fulfilling role that can make a significant impact on a student’s educational experience.

What is the process of applying to be a substitute teacher?


If you’re contemplating a career as a substitute teacher and curious about the typical procedures – including leveraging platforms such as Airteachr – here’s what you might expect:

First, ensuring you meet the minimum requirements is vital. Typically, this will involve having at least a Bachelor’s degree. However, certain districts may require a Master’s degree or a teaching certification. 

Next, complete a substitute teacher training course. This varies by state but often involves learning the responsibilities tied to the role and the skills necessary for classroom management. 

Apply for a substitute teaching license if your state or district necessitates it. Usually, this involves submitting your educational credentials, passing a criminal background check, and potentially paying a fee. 

In tandem, you may want to utilize services like Airteachr. This platform connects schools with substitute teachers, providing an efficient way to access potential job opportunities. You can create a profile, upload your credentials and certifications, and quickly start engaging with schools in need of substitute teachers. 

Finally, you’ll want to prepare for the interview stage. Brush up on your teaching philosophy, skills, and experiences, so you can confidently make a case for your suitability as a substitute teacher.

Final Words


Mastering the essential skills for substitute teaching is the gateway to a fulfilling and impactful career. By embracing adaptability, honing effective classroom management, and fostering strong communication, substitute teachers can create a positive learning environment.
Remember, continuous learning, problem-solving, and empathy are not just skills but the pillars of success in the dynamic world of substitute teaching. As you embark on your journey, stay open to growth, seek professional development, and let each experience be a stepping stone toward becoming an invaluable asset in the classroom.
With these essential skills, you’re not just a substitute teacher; you’re a catalyst for positive change in the lives of students.

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