Substitute issues: What to Wear & Too Much Love
Barbara Pressman advises substitute teachers on appropriate dress and what to do when students say, “ We like you better than our regular teacher!”
Dear Barbara - Advice for Substitute Teachers by Barbara Pressman
The author of Substitute Teaching from A to Z (McGraw-Hill, 2008)
Regular contributor to the Gazette
July 1, 2009
What should I wear?
I find it difficult to decide what to wear the morning of a subbing job. One day I was told that I would be teaching Middle School Science.
I put on a knee length skirt, white blouse and high heels, which was very appropriate for my given assignment. I knew that dressing professionally would help me earn respect.
When I got to the office, they told me that there had been a change, and I would be the PE teacher for the day. Help!!
I was very uncomfortable and looked ridiculous. I had to take off my shoes and walk around barefoot in the gym for the last period because my feet hurt so much.
Diana in Vernon CT
You learned a valuable lesson that day. I think you were correct in your choice of clothing for Middle School Science. A professional look goes a long way in creating an appropriate image and gaining respect. But as subs, we must be ready for anything.
My advice is to keep emergency clothing in the trunk of your car. A pair of sneakers, a whistle, and a knit shirt with a collar, shorts or casual slacks will always work if you need to be a PE teacher for a day, or if you are to go on a field trip.
Your comfort is important. If you plan to wear high heels, put a pair of flats in your bag of tricks for the end of the day. Keep a sweater in your car in case the classroom is cold.
Remember, your image is important. The way you carry yourself says a lot about you. Always dress like a professional. It does wonders for your sense of confidence.
Barbara Pressman is an adjunct professor at the College of Education, Florida Atlantic University. She has been a classroom teacher for more than 20 years, and a supervisor for student teachers for 10 years. She currently mentors Substitute Teachers as well.
Teachers.Net asked Barbara how she came to be interested in writing for substitute teachers. Her response:
I have subbed for many years during my teaching career. When my children were small, I found subbing to be a wonderful "free lance" job. At that time, I took on a 6th grade long term subbing assignment, which led me back to full time teaching. Upon retirement, I went back to subbing once again.