Friday, March 5, 2010

Substitute Teaching: We are Experts at Improv!

My fellow substitute teachers: don't quit your day job, but we most likely could moonlight on "Saturday Night Live"!

Substitute teaching is alot like doing improvisational comedy. In fact, at times it is a comedy of errors. We are thrown material and must make it work. The key is to take the lead from a good comic, if a joke (in our case: lesson) bombs, shake it off and move on. Our audience may grasp it the next time.
Realize that we are given a script in the form of a lesson plan. Some scripts are better than others, but it's all have to go on. Many lesson plans you encounter will be sketchy at best. What makes you a good substitute is improvise with the tools at hand and contents from your "Mary Poppins" bag of back up classroom activities. (see previous posts for ideas).
Substitute teaching beckons me back to my days of competing in high school and collegiate speech tournaments. My favorite categories to compete were Impromptu and Extemporaneous - subbing is similarly thinking on the fly. Substitute teachers try to keep one step ahead of our students. Don't show the kids you messed up, move on like any professional comic or performer. So, go dust your self off and get back on that horse!
Note to students: give your sub a break and don't throw tomatoes if you don't get our joke (lesson)! :)


  1. I like this idea for a blog - very clever!

  2. Yes, we are like comedians. We must be ready to put on a show and captivate the students for $118.00 a day. Instead of telling jokes though we use our common sense and knowledge to teach. When you have a shitty lesson plan, just think about the frozen latte you will buy when schools over.

  3. I just wrote a book called "361 Things a Substitute Teacher Learned at School: A Sub's Mini Guide". Check it out on Amazon:
    Don't make errors if you don't have to.


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