Become a Highly Requested Substitute Teacher

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The most successful substitute teachers are the ones who are repeatedly asked to return to classrooms. If you want to be in high-demand, simply leave a positive impression-so that the regular teacher requests you as a substitute teacher when they are absent. Read on to discover how our Kelly Education substitute teachers go about becoming school favorites.

Follow the provided lesson plans.

One of the most critical aspects of being a successful substitute teacher is adhering to the existing lesson plan. The teacher’s lesson plan is a roadmap to achieving specific educational objectives. Straying from this can disrupt the students’ learning progression.

“Be organized and prepared for each class by reviewing the lesson plans that the teacher has left for you and familiarizing yourself with the subject material before starting the class.” – Carla H., Florida

Show professionalism.

Display a professional attitude beyond dressing appropriately. It includes punctuality, flexibility, respectful interactions with students, faculty, and staff, and an overall commitment to the job’s responsibilities.

Be professional at all times. Give respect and you will receive respect back.” – Dwayne M., North Carolina

Build relationships.

Cultivate positive relationships with students, staff, and other teachers. Be friendly, approachable, and helpful. A positive reputation can go a long way in securing repeat assignments.

“Treat the students as people and start building relationships. Get to know them. Let them know that you care about them, but always remain a professional in their presence.” – Richard G., Missouri

Manage the classroom.

Teachers may ask students how the day went while they were away. Be sure to follow the classroom rules left by the teacher and consider reviewing them with students to start the class with everyone on the same page. If there are no rules listed, establish clear expectations for the class from the start. Address disruptions calmly and consistently and use positive reinforcement.

“Don’t be afraid to move student seats. Sometimes you need to get administrators involved, especially if the students will not follow instructions. (Students) know you can’t give them detention or send notes home, but they do know that building admins can.” – Justin H., Alabama

Tidy up.

A clean classroom is a pleasant sight for any teacher returning after a day away. Make an effort to tidy up before you leave. This includes erasing the board, gathering stray papers, and arranging the desks neatly. 

“Smile! Talk to the kids, get to know their names. Walk around and see what they are working on and let the kids explain. They love extra attention. Substitutes should be a welcome visit and support for the kids and especially the teacher. If I have free time I try to tidy the room if needed as well. I love my job!” – Celia W., Mississippi

Leave a brief report. 

Providing feedback should include what was covered, any issues that arose, notable student behavior, and any deviations from the lesson plan. This information can help the regular teacher adjust future lessons or address specific student needs.

“Write the teacher a summary of the day including helpful students, students that needed behavioral reminders, who was absent, tardy, nurse visits, and anything that happened that day like a fire drill.” – Diane R., South Carolina

Send a thank you note.

A day or two after your assignment, follow up with a thank you note to the teacher, or maybe to another teacher who helped you through the day. Express your appreciation for the opportunity and your willingness to fill in again if needed. This politeness stands out and may lead to more opportunities. 

As a result of following this sound advice from our experienced substitute teacher team, you will increase your chances that a teacher requests you as a substitute teacher in the future. 


Kelly Education provides substitute teachers, paraeducators, tutors, therapists, and supports staff to nearly 10,000 partner schools across the country. Visit to see if we have positions available in a district in your community. 

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