For Instructors

Take the Intimidation Out of Being a Substitute

Substitute teaching can be a rewarding experience. Look at it as a change of pace and even as an opportunity to learn and grow as an instructor. You will develop more confidence in your ability to teach, build relationships with a whole new set of members and build your own confidence. On the other hand, substitute teaching can be intimidating and challenging. It may be your first time to meet those students in the class you are covering. Some of those members may be devoted followers of the regular instructor and will let you know how the regular instructor teaches his/her class and what they expect from you. Others may just be happy to have a change of pace in their class. How you handle the situation makes all of the difference. You can make the experience enjoyable for everyone by being prepared for just about anything your students can dish out. Use this opportunity to build upon your own teaching skills and remember they don?t know you. Here are a few tips to help you build your confidence as a substitute. Ask the regular instructor what type of class they normally teach. Listen for the type of students you are dealing with, the normal intensity of the class, the type of movements used during class, the type of music and the length of the class you are covering. Make sure you clarify what they say and if you fully understand their style. You don?t have to mimic their style but you will at least know what the students expect from you as a substitute. Find out a little about the teaching style of the instructor whose class you are covering. Is she/he a high-energy, driven instructor? Is the instructor highly instructional? You may not be able to adapt your teaching style completely, but consider what the class is used to receiving in terms of a coach. This will take you out of your comfort zone just a bit. Remember, the students are already out of their comfort zone with you as the substitute, so meet them half way by changing some of the types of cues you use and/or your presentation style. Consider your own reaction to the substitute situation. You will create an acceptance or rejection based on your attitude. Show an attitude of self-confidence and lead a well-coached class. Your attitude towards the students is also important. They may feel that they were abandoned if they were not informed of the absence. Do not let the students intimidate you if they are negative. Ignore any personal insults and complaints with an accommodating attitude. Finally you need to make a great impression from the start of the class. The student?s attention is the highest during the first few minutes of your interaction so make the most of it. In order for your students to hear your words, they must first like what they see and what they hear. Their minds may be made up before you even say your first words. Consider using a bit of humor to ease the situation. Make your substitute experience work for you. Learn, grow and improve your confidence as an instructor by accepting substitute opportunities. You?ll never know when the class you substitute for will become your own. blog by Ralph Mlady for 4/29/2011



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