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Long Term Substitute Teacher Duties and Responsibilities

Teaching Students The primary role of a long term substitute teacher is instructing students, either using lesson plans and materials provided by the teacher or by enacting new lesson plans. Long term substitute teachers need to be able to convey information to students to prepare them for testing, achieve curriculum goals, and ensure that the teacher's absence does not cause an interruption in classroom instruction.

Lesson Planning and Development If a teacher takes a leave without leaving detailed lesson plans and instructions, a long term substitute teacher will often need to develop lesson plans. This requires the long term substitute teacher to gain familiarity with the course materials and expectations, and develop lessons and classroom activities to successfully teach the subject matter. Often, this role involves a combination of using existing plans and developing new materials.

Maintaining Classroom Safety and Discipline Much like a full-time teacher, a long term substitute teacher is also responsible for maintaining classroom safety. This can involve setting rules and ensuring that students adhere to them, as well as taking disciplinary actions as necessary. A long term substitute teacher will need to work with administrative staff to establish and enforce classroom rules, and may need to refer problematic students to school administrators.

Student Evaluation Another aspect of the long term substitute teacher's role is conducting student evaluations. This aspect of the role can involve grading homework, class assignments, and research papers. It can also require the long term substitute teacher to maintain records of students' performance and issue grades at the end of a semester or term. This aspect of the role requires organization and the ability to determine whether a student's performance meets expectations.

Communication Communication is also a vital part of the long term substitute teacher's role. In addition to being able to convey course-related information to students, a long term substitute may need to communicate with administrators and the primary teacher to answer questions and develop plans in case of a longer-than-expected absence. Finally, a long term substitute teacher may need to communicate directly with parents in conferences and to report on student progress or issues.


Long Term Substitute Teacher Skills and Qualifications

Long term substitute teachers are expected to perform many of the duties commonly associated with teachers, but need to be ready to adapt and change plans to better serve students. School districts usually hire long term substitute teachers with a bachelor's degree and teaching certification, along with the following skills:
  • Teaching and instruction - long term substitute teachers need to have a background in teaching and instruction to ensure that they can successfully instruct students and answer questions
  • Lesson planning - while a teacher will usually leave detailed instructions for a long term substitute teacher, an unexpected or longer absence may require a long term substitute teacher to develop and implement their own lessons
  • Classroom management - long term substitute teachers also need to be able to successfully manage the classroom and determine when disciplinary action is necessary
  • Observation and evaluation - the ability to observe and evaluate students on both individual assignments and over the course of the semester is another essential skill for long term substitute teachers
  • Flexibility - because they work on an as-needed basis, long term substitute teachers need a high level of flexibility, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances
  • Communication - long term substitute teachers need to be effective communicators, able to work with teachers, administrators, and parents to ensure student success

Long Term Substitute Teacher Education and Training

Long term substitute teachers need at least a bachelor's degree in education or in a related field. In addition, most districts require long term substitute teachers to achieve their teaching certification. Substitute teachers may start out on an occasional schedule while achieving certification, and transition to long-term availability as they complete certification courses. For long term substitute teachers who have a graduate degree, this position could eventually help them to transition to a full-time teaching role. Additionally, school districts may require long term substitute teachers to have prior teaching experience. Since long term substitute teachers often utilize lessons a teacher has prepared prior to an absence, there may be some on-the-job training to gain familiarity with course concepts and materials.

Long Term Substitute Teacher Salary and Outlook

As of May 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the median annual wage for substitute teachers was $28,010. The highest 10 percent earned up to $46,140, while the lowest 10 percent earned $18,460. This wide variance in pay rates stems from several factors, including pay differences between public and private schools, as well as a substitute teacher's education level. A long term substitute with an advanced degree can expect to earn much more than one with a bachelor's degree. Because long term substitute teachers work on an as-needed basis, annual pay can fluctuate with the number of days worked. Most long term substitute teachers are paid hourly, with a median rate of $13.47 per hour.

Helpful Resources

We searched the web and found a number of resources for substitute teachers and people who may be interested in pursuing a career as a long term substitute teacher:

Four Benefits of Being a Long-Term Substitute Teacher - This blog post explores four great reasons to work as a long term substitute teacher.

50 Things to Know About Substitute Teaching by Cassandra Carroll - Read about the challenges and opportunities that substitute teaching presents.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Substitute Teacher: What's Right for You? - Find out about the different duties and responsibilities of working as a short- or long-term substitute teacher.

Substitute Teaching from A to Z by Barbara Pressman - This book provides a handy primer for new substitute teachers and career-seekers who may be interested in this role.

The Substitute Teaching Survival Guide - This post addresses some of the challenges of substitute teaching and provides strategies for overcoming obstacles.

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