Substitute Your Way to a Real Job

Follow these tips from principals, teachers, and human resource directors to make the most of your substitute teaching experience and use it to get your first job.

For some, substitute teaching is a career choice. But for the majority of new teachers, it is often a necessary gateway to landing your first job. Either way, it’s a great way to sharpen your skills.

Substitute teaching gets a bad rap, in my opinion. Sure, it has its challenges. Students will test you. You may not have instructions from the regular teacher, and your day may follow an arduous path. But a good teacher, substitute or not, understands that there is always something valuable to be learned from experience, good or otherwise. If you make the most of it and glean as much as you can from each assignment, you’ll soon have more tricks in your bag than you’ll ever be able to use, and you’ll work your way into that teaching contract before you know it.

I asked principals, teachers, and human resource directors who make final hiring decisions to share their best advice for substitute teachers who are eager to score that teaching contract. You should know that without hesitation, they took the time to respond to my inquiry, even while in the throes of preparing for a new school year. They really do want you to know how to rise to the top, and they are willing to share with you how to be a teacher they want to hire. I wasn’t surprised to see three common themes emerge.

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