Substitute Teacher Skills: Definition and Examples

  • Accountability. Being personally responsible for a whole classroom of children can quickly help you reach a new level of accountability. …
  • Adaptability. …
  • Public Speaking. …
  • Problem-Solving. …
  • Time Management. …
  • Instructing. …
  • Networking. …
  • Working with Children.

Naturally, continuing to gain experience working as a Substitute Teacher may be your best qualification, but there are other ways you can also develop your skills, like continuing education or volunteer opportunities, to show that you are the most qualified candidate for a Substitute Teacher position and increase your salary. However, you can prepare for your next opportunity or promotion more quickly by becoming knowledgeable about the tasks, responsibilities, and skills necessary for a substitute teacher and by ensuring that your resume accurately captures your experience.

With the ZipRecruiter Career Keyword Mapper, we hope to help you resolve this issue and enhance your resume. Our Marketplace Research Team analyzed millions of job postings and resumes using machine learning tools and industry research to determine the most crucial keywords associated with substitute teacher jobs. Our mission is to support you in finding ways to enhance your resume, understand the skills and requirements necessary to work as a substitute teacher, or advance your career beyond this position.


Examples of substitute teacher skills

The following are some essential abilities substitutes can use to enhance the quality and effectiveness of their time in the classroom:

Interpersonal skills

In order to interact with students and establish trust as they get to know their students, substitute teachers use interpersonal skills. Skills such as active listening, empathy, and verbal and written communication are crucial for substitutes to master in order to interact with students and present lessons in the classroom. Substitute teaching can be made simpler and more productive by learning to feel at ease and assist others in adjusting to new situations. Long-term substitutes might also need to establish connections with other educators and parents. Getting along with faculty, staff, and support personnel can increase your likelihood of being hired again in the future.

Leadership skills

When the regular instructor is absent, the substitute teacher takes control of the situation in the classroom. Subs guide students and control the learning environment. By projecting confidence, substitute teachers are able to win over the confidence of other staff members and convince students that they can rely on them during their time in the classroom. Another essential leadership quality for substitute teachers is initiative. This quality can be demonstrated by substitute teachers by modifying lesson plans and interacting with students while teaching.

Critical thinking skills

When instructions are unclear or other circumstances arise, substitute teachers use critical thinking skills to guide students and find solutions. Critical thinking abilities also assist substitutes in reading and modifying lesson plans. Because substitute teachers instruct classes in a variety of subject areas and content areas, your capacity for critical thought and reasoning will help you help students with tasks that may not require your expertise.

Presentation abilities

Using their public speaking abilities, substitute teachers instruct and delineate tasks for students. A strong presenter uses clear speaking voice, appropriate volume, and eye contact. These skills are necessary to keep the class’s attention throughout the lesson as well.

Classroom management

Another crucial quality for any educator is the ability to control a classroom and create a conducive environment for learning. Learning this ability can help substitute teachers be better equipped to deal with the difficulties of working in an unfamiliar setting. Maintaining a setting where students can learn requires knowing how to set constructive expectations for behavior and what to do if a student misbehaves.


To fulfill their role in the classroom, substitutes might need to overcome a number of obstacles. Minutes before students arrive, they might discover that some lesson materials are missing or that the teacher’s lesson plans aren’t clear. In an emergency, substitutes can also be called in to attend a class during the day. It’s crucial for subs to develop problem-solving skills because working in a constantly changing environment can be difficult.

Time management

A variety of schedules are kept by substitutes, who frequently switch between schools and grade levels with varying start and end times. While some jobs for substitutes can be scheduled in advance, others call for substitutes to respond the same morning or throughout the day as needed. Before classes, substitutes plan to take calls, and once they accept a position, they are prepared to leave.


To make sure you restore every item at the end of the school day, managing materials that belong to another professional requires excellent organizational skills. Organizational abilities also help subs prepare for unexpected situations. For instance, substitute teachers who arrive at the job with a plan, including fallback activities in case lesson plans fall through or students finish early, frequently manage the classroom more effectively.

What are substitute teacher skills?

Skills as a substitute teacher are adaptable qualities that enable professionals to work in almost any educational setting. A variety of soft skills are used by substitutes to connect with students, interact with other professionals, and adjust to various classroom settings. In addition, substitute teachers use instructional strategies and behavior management in place of a full-time teacher.

How to improve substitute teacher skills

Here are some suggestions to help you become a better substitute teacher:

1. Prepare for the day

To give yourself time to read over lesson plans, prepare materials, and meet with other staff members, get to your subbing location early. Learn about the classroom and the main areas of the campus. Consider creating a kit for substitute teaching that you can bring with you wherever you go. A kit like this may include:

2. Learn school policies

You can be ready to manage students in the classroom or in other areas of the campus by familiarizing yourself with the main school policies for things like discipline, parent/teacher communication, and testing. Establishing trust and respect between substitutes and learners can be achieved by demonstrating to them that you are aware of the school’s rules. While working as a substitute, asking questions about the school will help you build relationships with other faculty members and will demonstrate your initiative in ensuring that the classroom adheres to school rules.

3. Study teaching resources

Many of the same tasks are carried out by substitute teachers and full-time teachers. Learning from educator resources can give you the chance to enhance your teaching skills and boost your self-assurance in the classroom. Find publications, podcasts, and blogs that share the expertise of industry experts with a background in education. Pay attention to suggestions regarding fundamental teaching techniques like classroom management and student engagement.

4. Practice public speaking

Speaking to students in front of them to instruct and present material is part of teaching. Developing your public speaking abilities will help you be more confident in your substitute teaching duties. Consider joining a group where you can network with industry peers and develop your presentational abilities.

Substitute teacher skills in the workplace

Here are some examples of how you can use your skills as a substitute teacher in the classroom:

How to highlight substitute teacher skills

As you meet with potential employers, use the following advice to relate the skills you acquire through substitute teaching to potential positions:

List substitute teacher skills on your resume

List your top skills that are applicable to a variety of jobs in the skills section of your resume, such as leadership, time management, and organization. Read the job description carefully and select skills that align with the job posting’s keywords as you get ready to apply for a position. Connect the skills you listed with a description of your role as a substitute when you include work experience in another section of your resume.

Explain your skills in your cover letter

Look over your resume as you compose your cover letter and select a few skills to elaborate on. Connect these skills to your desired position by describing how your substitute teaching experience prepared you for it. For instance, you could discuss how your experience as a substitute teacher’s assistant prepared you for your current position of leadership.

Discuss these skills during an interview

Discuss the abilities that are most closely related to the position when you are being interviewed for a job. Share how these abilities make you a strong candidate for the position and prepare you for the job as the interviewer asks you questions. Explain how you developed these skills in the classroom, using your cover letter as a guide.


What should a substitute teacher put on resume?

For absent teachers who are gone for a day or longer, substitute teachers handle the teaching and classroom management tasks. They are responsible for maintaining classroom cleanliness, explaining homework, and taking attendance. Candidates need to be flexible in their availability.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a substitute teacher?

Below are some of the key skills substitutes can use to make their time in the classroom more rewarding and productive:
  • Interpersonal skills. …
  • Leadership skills. …
  • Critical thinking skills. …
  • Presentation abilities. …
  • Classroom management. …
  • Problem-solving. …
  • Time management. …
  • Organization.

What do you believe to be the essential qualities of a substitute teacher?

A professional substitute teacher takes their role seriously. They are aware of the crucial role they must play in the school district. They comprehend that they have the power to improve the lives of students and that their main responsibility is to ensure that students learn.

What is the most important thing a substitute teacher does?

A professional substitute teacher takes their role seriously. They are aware of the crucial role they must play in the school district. They comprehend that they have the power to improve the lives of students and that their main responsibility is to ensure that students learn.

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