8 transferable skills you’ll gain as a substitute teacher.

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There are many great reasons to consider applying for a substitute teacher job. Not only can you positively impact the kids in your community when you become a substitute teacher, you’ll gain transferable skills that will support a future career path. 

Substitute teaching is a flexible job that provides real-world classroom experience. This will help you to bolster your resume with key skills like communication, organization, following directions, and building relationships with diverse populations. 

We’ve developed a list of the top eight transferable skills. You’ll often see these in a substitute teacher job description. 

1. People management

As a teacher, you are responsible for creating a safe and productive classroom environment. To do this effectively, you must manage your students well. It’s important to pay close attention to the different dynamics in the room, communicate expectations clearly, and maintain a positive and motivating energy for your students, especially in the face of challenges. 

Example: One student is distracting others from their work. Rather than scolding the student and unintentionally escalating the situation, you talk to them one-on-one. You revisit your expectations and ask how you can support them toward respectfully participating in the shared classroom space. 

People management is vital for anyone pursuing a leadership position, such as a manager or director. These aptitudes also transfer well to human resources roles and any position where you’ll work on a team. 

2. Time management 

Good time management demands delegation, planning, focus, and prioritization. Teachers learn to be masters of time management. Regardless of distractions, you’ll need to complete your lesson plan before the bell. It’s truly amazing what you can accomplish in 50 minutes. 

Example: If you’re facilitating an art or science lesson that includes a demonstration, before students arrive, pull out the supplies so it’s easily accessible. Then, you assign a reasonable time limit to each task and share your goal with students from the get-go. 

Time management skills are critical in any field, especially in positions that rely on deadlines or prompt responses. Prospective nurses, project managers, and journalists all require exceptional time management skills. 

3. Organization and planning

Successful substitute teachers are organized and show up to class prepared. If you check the weather, troubleshoot traffic, make lists, and bring a backup plan—you’re set up for success! Preparation saves they day even if you don’t know what your assigned lesson entails or how the students will respond. 

Example: You’re filling a last minute absence, and the teacher did not leave a lesson plan. Luckily, you save your favorite lesson plans from previous substitute teaching positions and have them ready to go. 

Organizational and planning skills are especially advantageous to careers that demand attention to detail, such as event planning or finance. 

4. Troubleshooting

When working in someone else’s classroom, you must think on your feet. A little chaos is almost always a guarantee. When you have a knack for troubleshooting, you can quickly identify the resources available to you and devise a reasonable solution. 

Example: The teacher left you a documentary to show the students, but the link isn’t working. You hurry to the classroom next door and ask that teacher for help. Luckily, they have a backup option that covers similar material. 

According to Forbes Advisor, problem-solving is one of the most desired skills for 2024, as companies need individuals who can confidently address issues. Maintenance technicians, software engineers, and customer service agents are always ready to find a solution. 

5. Creativity

Sometimes, things in the classroom don’t go as planned. That’s why substitute teachers should embrace their creative side and think on their feet. They should approach challenges with curiosity and encourage students to share different perspectives. 

Example: There’s a big thunderstorm during recess block, and another class occupies the gym. Luckily, you packed Trivial Pursuit. Split the students into groups to compete and encourage them to create silly team names. 

Creativity is valued across a range of career paths, but especially those in the art and design fields, such as graphic designers and marketing managers. 

6. Mentoring opportunities

Even though their role is temporary, substitute teachers make excellent mentors. You’re a new face for students, and your life experiences might help inspire them. Mentors teach by example, role modeling empathy, respect, and ethical decision-making. 

Example: Don’t simply start the lesson. Instead, take some time at the beginning of class to introduce yourself and share a little about your personal story. Perhaps even discuss something you found challenging as a student and how you overcame that barrier. 

Mentors are willing to take time out of their schedule to help guide others. These abilities are vital to a future career in coaching or counseling. 

7. Leadership in community

When you step into the classroom, you are an authority figure by default and must lead that space accordingly. You’ll learn to be confident, poised, and positive (even in a new situation). Great substitute teachers create a sense of teamwork and comfortably guide a group through a task. 

Example: Class has started, but the students are still talking excitedly amongst each other. You need to get their attention. Rather than raising your voice or getting flustered, you simply turn off the lights or play a popular song from your computer. Once they’ve settled down, let students know you expect their attention while you’re speaking. Together, generate a short list of more shared classroom agreements so everyone is reminded of the rules. 

Leadership is essential in and outside of the professional space. Individuals who excel at leading in a classroom space may find themselves thriving in the political or nonprofit industries. 

8. Conflict resolution

Conflict is inevitable when you put a group of people together. Substitute teachers must mindfully address disagreements without escalating the situation. Approach students with empathy and take time to learn their perspectives on the conflict. Of course, if you sense a problem is heading out of control, contact the front office immediately. 

Example: Student A accuses Student B of copying their work. Student B gets defensive and calls Student A an unkind name. Both students become visibly upset. You ask your next-door teacher to supervise the class while you calmly take Student A and Student B outside in the hall. You ask each to share their story and listen attentively, validating their feelings. Together, brainstorm the next steps to help resolve the conflict (i.e., move desks, shake hands, etc.). 

Employers value individuals with conflict resolution experience. These skills are especially applicable to careers in mediation or law. 

Ready to become a substitute teacher?

There’s so much more to substitute teaching than implementing lesson plans and instructing students. It’s also a great opportunity to develop and hone versatile skills beyond the classroom environment. These substitute teacher skills are transferable and highly relevant for any career path in today’s workforce. 

Are you ready to make a difference with flexible work that matters? Wondering where are the substitute teacher jobs near me?  Fill out our brief interest form and one of our recruiters will contact you to answer your questions and share more about opportunities to become a sub teacher with one of our school district partners.

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