How to be an alternative teacher

According to a Recent Education Week SurveyAcross the country, 77 percent of school leaders said it was a difficult time to recruit enough alternative teachers to provide adequate coverage for teacher absences. And although deficits vary by schools across states, subject areas, and even districts, one thing is for sure: the value of alternative teachers cannot be overstated. Effective alternative teachers make important contributions to our students, our schools and our communities. If you are wondering how to become an alternative teacher, here are the answers to some common FAQs.

Is alternative education a good thing for me?

Being an alternative teacher is an interesting possibility for many people. If you’re considering a teaching career, this is a great way to test the water before drowning the whole way. For new teachers or those who are moving to new districts, this is a great way to keep your feet on the door. Even if you want to earn some extra money through a flexible part-time job, alternative education can be a great opportunity.

Some questions to ask yourself before deciding to become an alternative teacher include:

  • Do you want to work with children?
  • Are you okay with the possibility of unexpected, part-time work?
  • Being able to set a high priority on your own schedule?
  • Do you like the idea of ​​working with different ages?
  • Are you comfortable covering a wide spectrum of content?
  • Can you give up benefits like vacation pay and health benefits?

It is important to answer this question honestly because, honestly, the job is not for everyone. Priscilla L. She becomes an alternative teacher when her children enter primary school. “It was a perfect fit for our family,” she says. “We could go to school and come home together. It gave me valuable insights into the community where they spent most of their time. “

What skills do you need to become an alternative teacher?

Alternative learning requires a unique mix of skills. First and foremost, patience, empathy and sincere love for children are essential. These skills are also required to do the job well:


Alternative teachers need to be able to communicate clearly with students and not be afraid to stand in front of the class. In addition, they must be able to work with team teachers and other school staff.


One of the most difficult parts of being an alternative teacher is classroom management. Especially if you work with students you have never met before, an air of confidence and (generous) authority is essential.


Each teacher’s classroom community is different. When you enter as an alternative teacher, you need to be able to adapt quickly, adapt and follow the teacher’s plan.


Every teacher’s nightmare is coming back in time to find a mess in their classroom with no evidence of what was done (or not) when they left. Alternative teachers must be able to keep materials and paperwork organized and accessible to teachers when they return.

Time management

School schedules can be complicated. Alternative teachers must be able to move lessons along and keep students on track. In addition, they must be able to follow the schedule and ensure that students are where they need to be at the right time.

Computer literacy

Many classroom work requires technical skills, ranging from taking attendance to video lessons and accessing smart boards to helping students log into learning apps. Must be comfortable with technology and have knowledge of problem solving techniques.


Last but not least, sometimes alternative teachers need to be creative. This may mean having your own special strategy to keep students engaged or knowing what to do when the lesson is flat. Even the most seasoned teachers have a day when everything falls apart. So it’s important to be able to think on your feet.

For more tips on how to be an effective sub and have fun doing it, read our article 50 Tips, Strategies and Ideas for Alternative Teachers.

What are the benefits of being an alternative teacher?

There are many benefits to being an alternative teacher. The work is part-time and flexible. This is a great way to earn a supplemental income while gaining valuable experience. “My time as an alternative was invaluable for my development as a teacher,” says Alyssa E. “I’ve gained experience at different levels on different topics. In addition, I’ve come up with a lot of helpful tips for setting up my classroom community.”

Being an alternative teacher is certainly less stressful than being a full-time classroom teacher. You are not responsible for planning lessons or attending meetings or training. And when students are off for the day, so can you. Also, you can rely on holidays and summer vacations (unless you choose sub for summer school).

And if you go to a list of school choice options, you will really get to know students and teachers and become an important part of the community. “I feel like I’ve become part of the school family,” Ann M. said. He told us 6 “Teachers and principals really value me as part of their staff and know they can count on me. It is very stressful for teachers to take leave. So I am happy to give them peace of mind when they have to leave. ”

After all, you can work with kids! Also, you are proud to make a valuable contribution in a case where a lot is needed.

What are the disadvantages of being an alternative teacher?

As an alternative teacher, you are an intentional employee. This means there is no guarantee of hours or wages. Demand is unexpected and usually does not provide benefits. If you start and work at a different school every day, it’s hard to feel connected. It takes time and exposure to build relationships with students. In addition, let’s just say some teachers plan better than others. If you’re lucky enough to sub for an Uber-organized teacher, the job is a dream. If not, that’s fine – this is where creativity comes into play (see above).

What are the requirements for an alternative teacher?

Rules and regulations for alternative teachers vary widely from state to state. Visit your state Department of Education website to verify the needs of your community. Generally, you must have a valid teaching license or alternative license. Some districts issue temporary licenses, especially those with an urgent need. The level of education required to become a sub also varies by state. Some only require a high school diploma. For others, you need a college degree and perhaps proof of certain coursework.

Other requirements may include a criminal background check and health and immunization certificate. Some districts require safety training such as CPR and first aid. Most school districts have an application process and ask for a letter of recommendation. And once you get hired as an alternative, you may have to attend Adaptation or training sessions.

How much do alternative teachers get paid?

On average, alternative teachers can earn anywhere from $ 75 to $ 200 for a full day’s work. But sub Salary varies greatly from state to state and between urban and rural communities. Some districts offer incentives for high-volume days such as Fridays and Mondays. Some districts vary salaries depending on grade level. Contact your local school district to find out about rates in your area.

Have you recently decided to become an alternative teacher? How are you? Share the comment.

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