What Is a Substitute Teacher?

Teenage students learning in classroom
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Substitute Teacher Responsibilities

There are two types of substitutes: short term and long term. Typically, each type has a different set of duties and responsibilities. Short-term substitutes take over classes for short periods of time during a teacher's absence from work. On the other hand, long-term subs take over a class when a teacher is going on an extended leave.

Short Term Sub Duties

  • Arrive in each class on time
  • Take accurate attendance
  • Facilitate the lesson plans left by the teacher
  • Manage the classes effectively
  • Collect papers and store them safely
  • Leave information for the teacher about what occurred in class
  • Make sure that students are let out of class on time

Long Term Sub Duties

  • Take accurate attendance
  • Create and implement lesson plans with or without teacher input depending on the school's expectations
  • Manage the class effectively
  • Assign, collect, and grade assignments
  • Administer assessments
  • If required, attend parent-teacher conferences
  • Submit official grades at the end of the grading period as required by the school

Education Required:

Each state has different rules about substitute teaching. The following examples will show how varied these requirements are.

Florida

  • Each county decides their own requirements for substitute teachers.
  • In Pasco County, Florida, substitute teachers must have an Associate of Arts (AA) degree, an Associate of Science (AS) degree, or higher, or at least 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university.
  • In Miami County, Florida, you need to have a minimum of 60 college credits and overall 2.50 GPA. In addition, if your major was non-education, you will need to attend a two-day class.

California

  • Unlike in Florida, each county does not have a different rule for their substitute teachers.
  • All substitute teachers in California must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

    Texas

    • As in Florida, each school district has its own set of requirements. In the Austin Independent School District, the minimum requirement to be a substitute is to have completed 60 college hours. However, this school district pays substitutes differently based on their level of education, so the more education that an individual has the higher their pay.

    Characteristics of Substitute Teachers:

    Substitute teaching is a great way to get experience in the classroom and get yourself known in a school. However, being a substitute is not always easy. Since it is an 'on call' position, substitutes are not sure if and when they will have work. It is widely known that students try to give substitutes a hard time. Further, you will be teaching lessons that other teachers created so there is not a lot of room for creativity. Effective substitutes possess characteristics that help them deal with these and other unique situations. Following are some examples of these characteristics:

    • Flexible attitude
    • Sense of humor
    • Ability to 'make do' in situations beyond their control
    • Ability to learn names quickly (not required but a serious help for classroom management issues)
    • Detail oriented
    • Commanding presence
    • Thick skin
    • Ability to follow instructions set forth by the teacher
    • Love of students and learning

    Sample Salary:

    Substitute teachers are typically paid a set sum of money for each day work. Also, a difference in pay is made based on whether the substitute is working on a short or long-term basis. Each school district sets its own pay scale, so it is best to use the prospective's school district's website to learn more. Current pay examples:

    • Oakland County School District, California: $118/day for first 14 days with one teacher. $138/day for days 15-60. $152/day for days 61+.
    • Pasco County School District, Florida: Pay is based on educational background. Substitutes with a High school diploma get $55 per day, those with a Bachelor's degree or higher receive $65 per day and retired Pasco County teachers earn $75 per day.
    • Austin Independent School District, Texas: Pay for substitutes who have 60 college credits earn $75 a day. Those with a college degree earn $80. Individuals who have a Texas teaching certificate earn $85 a day. In addition, substitutes who are in a classroom for over 30 days earn a stipend. For days 31-60, they earn $20 extra. For days 61+ they earn $40 extra per day. Finally, all substitutes earn an additional $5 per day for working on Fridays.