Friday, January 13, 2012

Need Tips on Getting Sub Jobs?

Somehow I have managed to not be able to land a full-time teaching job, but I seem to be pretty good at landing sub gigs. I thought I'd share a few of my strategies with the hopes that it might help some of you struggling out there. And if you are a successful sub, feel free to share additional strategies you use in the comments section. I have found that two major things count — who you know (and who knows you) and the kind of job you do.
  • Make some contacts. I was fortunate that I made some contacts during my student teaching days. And when I went into subbing, I made sure to put that school on my list, even though it is far from my house. The teachers knew who I was and that I knew what I was doing and would call me to request subbing. And one funny thing about teaching is that teachers all know teachers at other schools, so they could tell their friends that I was dependable and I got requests from others.
  • Utilize social media. I don't often sub at that student teaching school much anymore, but I still keep up those contacts by having many of the teachers as my Facebook friends. And at each new school I manage to get a foot in, I add those teachers to my friend list as well. As they get to "know" me better through Facebook, they feel more comfortable requesting me. Of course, you do need to watch what you are putting out there. That strategy could easily backfire on you if you are posting school-inapropriate things.
  • When you do get a sub job, make a good impression. Actions always speak louder than words, so arrive early and introduce yourself to the principal, office assistants, and teachers. Treat the students with kindness (even those challenging ones) because they are the ones who will report back to the teacher if they liked you or not. If the students say that you yelled all day and were mean, it is less likely for that teacher to call you back. Follow any lesson plans to the best of your abilities and as the schedule allows. Leave a detailed note about any changes you made or things you didn't get to. I also try to note whether or not most students finished an assignment and how the lesson seemed to go. Make sure you list any students who were particularly helpful, and note any challenges and how you solved them. I try never to dump a problem in a teacher's lap without first having tried to solve it myself. Make sure those challenges you write up really are something the teacher needs to know about as well. I usually only write up major issues since writing up every little thing will make you seem incompetent. Also leave contact information if the teacher has any questions for you. You can download my free Daily Summary Form for help with the note.
  • Try to go the extra mile. If you have a spare moment, grade some papers from the day. During your planning period, you could head to the office to see if any assistance is needed anywhere else in the school. Offer to take another teacher's duties if possible. All that will build up lots of good will.
  • Market yourself. I have mentioned this before, but I have business cards that I leave in teachers' boxes at least once a year. I do check with the principal before I do this, but I have never been turned down. Something else to try would be to put a magnet on the back of that business card. I have been in many classrooms where I saw my card on the side of a filing cabinet near the phone (that is exactly what you are going for), and it would be easier for the teacher if there was a magnet already attached. Vistaprint is a great site to get your business cards made for free, or you can create your own by purchasing business card templates from any office supply store.
  • Be creative. If you are having trouble getting jobs, try some more creative marketing tactics. Here is an interesting one from from STEDI, the substitute teaching division of Utah State University, where you can create your own online profile for free. Full-time teachers can search for you when they are looking for quality subs.
Remember, what you are going for is when teachers need a sub, they think of you. I rarely (and actually despise) relying on the automated sub system for jobs. I have worked hard to develop a reputation as the sub teachers want in their classrooms when they cannot be there. If you can do that, you will have all the work you can handle.


  1. I am starting my student teaching endeavor on January 17th (so very nervous, but excited!). When I met with my cooperating teachers, they told me that they are always in need of excellent subs because the school is very picky - they don't want to pick someone who is just going to have a free day and kick their feet up while the kiddos do nothing. They want their kids to be learning. This is such a great place for me to learn how to be a great sub in case I can't land a full time teaching job, thank you so much for all of the tips!

  2. I can say that your tips are very true as it's landed me several sub jobs in one school per request and I'm on my way in 2 other schools. Many others have told me they want me as soon as they need a sub job! Another tip is to always make sure that room is cleaner than when you stepped in! Custodians love me and tell me they go to the office and let administration and the secretary know! Love the Daily Summary Form, thanks so much!!!

    1. Good tip, Brian! Yes, definitely cleaning (or at least picking up) the room, especially if there has been some cutting and pasting happening during the day is another great way to make a good impression. And secretaries are important people to know!

  3. As a sub of 5 years, I can tell you that you have hit the nail on the head of how to get jobs.

    I also make sure to become friends with the custodians and the lunch ladies :)

    I agree with Brian, leave the room a little bit cleaner thatn when you got there, always leave a note/report of the day, pass out your sub cards, talk with people so they get to know you, and just be yourself! They notice if you smile or are pleasant.

    Journey of a Substitute Teacher

    1. Thanks! I agree... a smile and enthusiasm go a long way!

  4. I don't think this has been posted already, but create your own feedback form. Using your own form makes it easy for the teacher to locate information, and also helps to keep your day organized as well as yourself.


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