Substitute teaching can be taxing, with its varied and inconsistent scheduling. New locations, new children, new lesson plans, and new expectations every morning can be draining.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. As a substitute teacher, not much is inside your circle of influence, but you are at the center of it. Taking care of yourself is absolutely the most important thing you can do to succeed at substitute teaching. First, stay fit. If you cannot exercise in the morning because you are waiting by the phone, exercise in the evening, stopping by the gym on the way home or walking around the neighborhood with your spouse after dinner. Second, eat well. Meal planning and preparing food in advance is crucial for this step. Over the weekend, make several meals, doubling or even tripling the recipe and freeze single portion sizes in Tupperware in the freezer for you to take to work as lunches.
Use your crockpot: stick a roast or chicken breasts with Asian or Mexican spices and a can of diced tomatoes and you have dinner ready when you come home. Third, get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Change is one of the most exhausting circumstances an individual can face; you face continual change every day. Let your body recover each night. Last, look good. For women especially, the way you look influences your mood. When you dress in a power suit, you feel powerful. When you dress in a skirt, you feel feminine. If you have uniform requirements like lanyards and badge holders, personalize them with a beaded lanyard or decorative badge holder.
Embrace the change. Some personality types are naturally more flexible than others, but even if you prefer structure and organization, you can choose to focus on the positive elements rather than the negative elements of substitute teaching. You have the opportunity to reach a greater number of children every day than other teachers. You have a greater challenge because you do not have an established rapport with the students, but as a newcomer you may be able to reach them in ways their teacher was not. Always keep a lesson plan for each grade prepared in case the teacher does not have one ready when you arrive. Since you get to decide what to cover that day, you can talk about things that you like and get the students excited about subjects they may not have covered previously.
Remember to stay organized, keeping your important documents and ID on lanyards and badge holders so that you can show security you belong and are a staff member in case they ask. You might look into buying an attractive beaded lanyard that matches most of your outfits.
At all times, remember that teaching is your calling, not just an occupation. You got into teaching because you love learning and sharing your knowledge with others. Do not get frustrated! As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”