Among the most difficult aspects of teaching is learning to manage student behavior. Children like to test the limits of adults in authority. Children need to know what is expected of them, and if those expectations are not clear, they may act out to obtain information. Therefore, substitute teachers must make a point of setting clear expectations at the very beginning. This can be done compassionately and kindly. A successful substitute teacher begins by explaining his or her role and describing the planned classroom routine. The substitute teacher then continues this pattern throughout the day by clearly introducing each activity and explaining what the students are expected to do. For example, “We are now going to get into our reading groups and complete the activity I will hand out. Please talk quietly with your group so that others can hear.”
Substitute teachers should thoroughly prepare before the day begins. They should know how to conduct each activity and make each transition. Also, they should practice positive ways of communicating what they wish the students to do. Positive reinforcement may include offering rewards, such as stickers or extra recess in exchange for on-task behavior, so long as those rewards comply with school policy.