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How to Become a Substitute Teacher in Pittsburgh, PA

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

How do I become a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh?

Being a substitute teacher can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice. In Pittsburgh, there are specific requirements and steps you need to take in order to become a substitute teacher. This article will guide you through the process, providing valuable information and tips along the way.

Understanding the Role of a Substitute Teacher

Before embarking on the journey to become a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh, it is crucial to understand the role and responsibilities associated with the position. As a substitute teacher, you will be stepping into the shoes of regular teachers and providing instruction to students in their absence.

When regular teachers are unable to be present in the classroom due to illness, personal leave, or other reasons, substitute teachers play a vital role in ensuring that students continue to receive quality education. They are responsible for maintaining a positive learning environment and ensuring the continuity of instruction. While it may seem like a temporary position, substitute teaching offers a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students.

Key Responsibilities of a Substitute Teacher

Substitute teachers have a wide range of responsibilities that go beyond simply delivering lesson plans. They must be prepared to handle various situations that may arise in the classroom. Some of the key responsibilities include:

Delivering lesson plans prepared by regular teachers: Substitute teachers must be able to understand and effectively deliver the lesson plans left by the regular teacher. This requires careful preparation and a thorough understanding of the subject matter.

Managing classroom behavior and ensuring a safe environment: Maintaining discipline and creating a safe and inclusive classroom environment are crucial aspects of a substitute teacher's role. They must be able to manage student behavior and address any issues that may arise.

Assisting students with their assignments and providing guidance: Substitute teachers are responsible for providing academic support to students. This includes assisting them with their assignments, answering questions, and providing guidance when needed.

Reporting any disciplinary issues or concerns to the appropriate authorities: Substitute teachers must be vigilant and observant of any disciplinary issues or concerns that may arise during their time in the classroom. It is their responsibility to report these issues to the appropriate authorities to ensure the well-being and safety of the students.

Essential Skills for a Substitute Teacher

Being a successful substitute teacher requires a unique set of skills. While subject knowledge is important, there are other essential skills that can contribute to your success in this role. These skills include:

  • Effective communication skills to engage with students and staff: Substitute teachers must be able to communicate effectively with students of different ages and backgrounds. They should be able to explain concepts clearly and engage students in meaningful discussions.

  • Adaptability to different teaching styles and classroom environments: Each classroom and teacher has a unique teaching style. Substitute teachers must be adaptable and able to adjust their teaching methods to match the style of the regular teacher. They must also be able to adapt to different classroom environments and make students feel comfortable.

  • Strong organizational skills to manage lesson plans and materials: Substitute teachers often have to work with limited time and resources. Therefore, strong organizational skills are essential to effectively manage lesson plans, materials, and classroom activities.

  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in challenging situations: Substitute teachers may encounter challenging situations in the classroom, such as disruptive behavior or conflicts among students. It is important for them to remain patient and calm, maintaining a positive and supportive atmosphere.

Requirements to Become a Substitute Teacher in Pittsburgh

Now that you have a better understanding of the role, let's explore the specific requirements to become a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh.

Substitute teaching can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path, allowing individuals to make a positive impact on students' lives while also providing flexibility and variety in their work. However, before embarking on this journey, it is important to understand the educational qualifications, certification and licensing requirements, as well as the background check and clearance process.

Educational Qualifications

At a minimum, you will need to have completed a high school diploma or equivalent to be eligible to become a substitute teacher. This ensures that you have a basic level of education and knowledge to effectively support students in the classroom. However, having a bachelor's degree in education or a related field can greatly enhance your chances of securing substitute teaching positions.

Certification and Licensing

The state of Pennsylvania does not issue substitute teaching licenses so in most cases there's no specific credential/license required. However some districts may choose to apply for an emergency permit on your behalf. Therefore, in order to become a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh, there's no need for you to apply for a license yourself.

Should the district apply for an emergency certification, the process typically involves completing an application, submitting required documents, and paying a fee. The application will require you to provide information about your educational background, including transcripts and proof of degree completion. Additionally, you may need to provide references, or participate in a training program to demonstrate your readiness for the role.

Background Check and Clearances

Prior to being eligible to work as a substitute teacher, you will need to undergo a thorough background check and obtain the necessary clearances. This is done to ensure the safety and well-being of students in the school environment.

The background check typically includes a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check, which searches for any criminal history within the state.

Additionally, a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance is required to ensure that you have not been involved in any child abuse incidents. Finally, a Criminal Background Check is often required to identify any criminal records at the federal level.

It is important to start this process early, as obtaining the necessary clearances can take some time. You will need to complete the required forms, provide identification documents, and pay any associated fees. Once the background check and clearances are complete, you will be one step closer to becoming a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh.

By meeting the educational qualifications, obtaining the necessary certification and licensing, and completing the background check and clearance process, you will be well-prepared to embark on a fulfilling career as a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh. This role offers the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students, contribute to their educational journey, and gain valuable teaching experience.


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