For Substitute Teachers Covering a Long Term Leave

I was starting a grade 7 LTO in 3 days (covering a maternity leave) . I was nervous. I have been teaching for over 20 years as a permanent and Substitute Teacher. This was my 9th LTO and still I was nervous. Would I be too strict or too easy? Would I teach to their level and help them improve? Would I know what to do? Here are some things I have learned over the years about taking over someone else’s class.

  1. It’s normal to be nervous.
  2. No matter how much or how little I do to prepare, I never feel prepared.
  3. I will be a bit overwhelmed the first week no matter what.
  4. It’s best to set a time limit to how much I will work or I will not give myself enough time to rest and relax and it will affect my health.
  5. It takes time to get into a rhythm with the class, so I give myself and the students time.
  6. I expect it to get more difficult after a couple of weeks, when the honeymoon is over and the students are testing my boundaries.
  7. Often other teachers will be a great help, giving me materials, unit plans, lesson plans and as much help as possible. Sometimes, they will not.
  8. Reading the student records as soon as possible is important – I want to know if someone has a severe allergy or a parent who is denied access to them.
  9. Don’t complain too much about the class or the classroom or the teacher who left at school – even if encouraged – as this reduces chances of being asked to do another LTO. Complain at home or to friends.
  10. Repeat to myself, “It will be ok.” Because, it will be ok. It may take some time but it will be ok – and better than that, it will be great! I’ll find my footing, the class will become mine and we will have fun learning together.


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