Substitute Teachers – Go From a Supply Teacher to a Contract

This month I had the absolute priviledge of working with 45 substitute teachers at the ATA Substitute Teachers Conference in Calgary.  The session I facilitated focussed on moving from a substitute / supply teacher position into a contract.  One of the best ways to do this, is to be a brilliant substitue teacher!  Be noticed, wow them, do an amazing job and the Principal of the school will want you on their staff.  But, let’s face it, some substitute teachers are better than others.

What does a brilliant substitue teacher do to stand out from the rest?

With large school boards employing hundreds and hundreds of substitute teachers, what can you do to stand out, to make an impression, to be the one who gets the contract?  Together at the conference, we answered this question.

To prepare for the session, I did some reading and thinking about what makes an excellent teacher.  Really, an excellent substitute teacher needs to have the same skills and values that an excellent teacher has.  The main difference being, a substitute teacher demonstrates their skills differently give the different role they fill.  You can read more about excellence in teaching by clicking  here.

Eventually, I categorized the skills and values of excellence in teaching into four main categories:

  • Communication
  • Flexibility
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientousness

Agreeablness and Conscientousness come from The Big Five Personality studies.  Click here for more on Big Five.  Essentially out of the five personality traits identified in the studies, a combination of aggreeablness and conscientousness are essential qualities in highly successfull employees,

The group looked at these four categories and began generating ideas and examples.

For a substitute teacher, what does each of these categories look like in a day to day basis in the classroom?

Through answering this question, the following guide was developed.

sub teacher


 With this one page guide, substitute teachers are encouraged to read it, understand it, and live it.  Take it with you each day as a guideline for excellence.  This guide represents the work of 45 educators.  Although it is comprehensive, it can always be added to.  Additionally, as your work as a substitute teacher moves into longer contract work, the main headings of this document will remain the same but you can add in any adjustments you have made.  For example, under communication, a contracted teacher would need to add “Clear and concise report card comments.”

Thank you to the ATA for the opportunity to engage in this work.

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