Identifying Hiring Requirements for Substitute Teaching Jobs
Educational requirements for substitute teaching jobs vary greatly from state to state. Some states require their subs to have a Bachelor’s degree and teaching credential, while others require only a high school diploma or the equivalent. Before beginning the application process, check with the school district or districts in your area for more information. In addition to academic qualifications, other requirements frequently include background checks, fingerprinting, medical exams, application fees, training sessions, and drug testing.
Finding Substitute Teaching Jobs
Your local school district’s website is a good place to begin your job search. You can also call the school district and request to speak with the substitute coordinator. Ask him or her if the district is hiring substitute teachers. If so, request an application by mail. Check the government section of your phone book, or conduct an Internet search, to find other school districts in your area.
If a district isn’t hiring, ask when the district will be accepting applications for substitute teachers and make a note to follow up later. Because school districts often keep applications on file for up to a year, you may want to apply even if there aren’t immediate openings for subs.
Several years ago, I applied for a substitute teaching position at a school district near my home. A few weeks later, I received a form letter stating plainly that due to the budget crisis in California, the district wasn’t hiring any additional subs, nor did it plan to hire any in the near future. I thought I had heard from this district for the last time, but then a few weeks later, I received a call from the district’s personnel department. I was invited to attend an orientation for new substitute teachers, and I even worked briefly for this district before I moved to Arizona!
The bottom line: Apply to as many districts as you can, even if they don’t have immediate openings.
Managing The Substitute Teaching Job Interview
If you’ve applied and meet the basic requirements, you’ll probably be called in for an interview. Before you go, do some basic research on the district, its schools and programs, and its student population. Check the district’s web site, or ask the secretary to send you some information. If you don’t hear from the district office within three to four weeks, call to find out the status of your application.
Even though many teachers dress casually for school, wear professional attire for the interview. Bring copies of any documents requested by the district’s personnel department.
In the interview, you may be asked hypothetical questions about how you would handle various classroom situations. These questions may be asked by an individual interviewer, or by a panel of school administrators, teachers, or district personnel staff. Here are a few examples of questions tha you might be asked:
“What would you do if the teacher left no lesson plan, or if you had time to fill?”
Possible Answers: Ask the principal or another teacher if there are other lesson plans available. You could also say that you would bring some activities of your own, or you would have a class discussion on some issue related to the course (or other appropriate topic).
“How would you handle a disrespectful or uncooperative student, or a student that makes inappropriate comments in class?”
Possible Answers: Tell the student to stop immediately, and leave the teacher a note describing the student’s behavior. Resist the impulse to engage in a power struggle with the student. If the problem continues, or if it’s serious, call the school office or send a reliable student to the office for help.
“What would you do if a fight occurs in the classroom?”
Possible Answers: Demand that the students stop fighting immediately, and call the office or send a reliable student to the office for help. Seek the help of a teacher or campus security guard. Make sure that the other students are safe from harm.
“What would you do if a student has a medical emergency in the classroom, such as a seizure, bleeding, or lapse of consciousness?”
Possible Answers: Call the school office or send a reliable student to the office for help. Make sure that the other students are safe from harm. If necessary, locate the class first aid kit, cover your hands with latex gloves, and take the proper steps to treat the student’s injury.
You may also be asked about your work and life experiences. Take the opportunity to talk about your parenting experiences and any work you’ve done with children in the community. Share any lessons you’ve learned that have helped you work effectively with children, especially under difficult circumstances.
In the interview, the interviewer (or interviewers) will probably discuss district policies and procedures, federal and state education laws, expectations for substitutes, and other issues. You’ll also be given an overview of a typical work day, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions. Don’t hold back–make sure that you’ve cleared up any issues you don’t know or understand.
Above all, be personable and show enthusiasm about children and education. Show that you’re a confident person who will treat students with care and respect. You’ll then be on your way to your first assignment!