What Does It Mean to Have a Guest Teacher in Your Classroom?

Being in the same classroom day in and day out can be a drag. It’s easy to get bored teaching the same kinds of things over and over in the same classroom every single day!

If you’ve ever felt like you’d have a hard time standing in front of the same classroom every day, guest teaching may be a great option for your education career!

What is a Guest Teacher?

There are lots of ways to be a teacher besides the traditional classroom model. As technology advances and brings the world closer together, the options will only continue to grow!

With all of the different career options out there, you may be confused about what different teaching roles entail and which one is right for you.

I’ve been a teacher and eLearning expert for years, so I’ve learned all the ins and outs of the teaching profession: everything from traditional classroom teaching to educating students a world away!

In this article, I’ll tell you all about the little-known career of guest teaching and how it’s different from being a substitute teacher. I’ll also give you the important information that I learned from my research about what qualifications you will need to get your guest teaching career off the ground!

Let’s start by taking a look at what exactly a guest teacher is!

What is a Guest Teacher?

A guest teacher has many of the same roles and responsibilities in the classroom as an ordinary teacher who sees their students every single day for the whole year.

A guest teacher will be responsible for planning interesting lessons, teaching the content, facilitating discussions and other fun activities, and monitoring student progress throughout their time in the classroom.

Guest Teachers Are no Less Importan Than Permanent Ones

The main difference between a traditional teacher and a guest teacher is that a guest teacher will remain with a group of students for a shorter time, whereas a traditional teacher would work with the same students for the entire school term. However, a guest teacher can still work with the same group of students for several weeks or even months!

Guest teachers may also join a classroom to work with the students on a particular subject or concept that the teacher wants to cover but lack expertise in.

I have been asked to guest teach on subjects that fall under my particular areas of expertise numerous times, and it is always a great experience!

You Should Always Be Ready to Come in as a Replacement

Because guest teachers can be hired to teach in numerous different classrooms every school year, a guest teacher is often knowledgeable about and certified to teach a variety of different subjects and topics. Traditional teachers, particularly secondary school teachers, often specialize in one particular subject that they will teach for the entirety of their career.

The video below can help you learn more about what a guest teaching career can offer you. This video gives an overview of one school’s guest teaching program, which hires local education majors and graduates to work in the district as guest teachers.

In this video, you’ll hear all about how guest teachers can meet important needs in schools who lack sufficient substitute teachers and hear from guest teachers who have had great experiences working in this field and gaining important classroom experience.

Traditional teaching is not the only road for you if teaching is your calling! There are lots of alternative paths that can be tailored to your specific interests and circumstances

Check out this article to learn more about some of the other fulfilling options that you can consider throughout your teaching career.

What are the main differences between a guest teacher and a substitute teacher?

Contrary to what many people think, a guest teacher is not the same as a substitute teacher. Let’s take a look at a few important differences between a substitute teacher and a guest teacher.

  • Guest teachers are responsible for brainstorming and creating their own lesson plans, while substitute teachers are expected to implement lesson plans pre-prepared by the regular classroom teacher.
  • Guest teachers are expected to provide regular, ongoing assessments of the students’ progress; substitute teachers typically administer and collect work for the regular teacher to assess later.
  • Substitute teachers rarely work with the same group of students for more than a few consecutive days, whereas a guest teacher will often work with the same class for weeks or even months at a time.
  • Guest teachers must have an understanding of the school, district, or state standards and implement them in their lessons; substitute teachers typically rely on the regular teacher to incorporate standards into the lesson plans that they prepare for the substitute to use.
  • Substitute teachers often receive their assignments at the last minute, while guest teachers have a more predictable and consistent schedule.

One of the most difficult aspects of substitute teaching is maintaining an authoritative presence in the classroom when you are only there for a short period of time. Being a strong authority figure can be easier for guest teachers because they are able to develop relationships with students over several weeks or even months.

Working as a Teacher is for Those Who No Not Like the Traditional Teaching Role

Both guest teaching and substitute teaching are great options for someone who wants to teach but isn’t interested in working in a traditional teaching role. The differences listed above can help you decide which career path makes more sense for you.

What qualifications should a guest teacher have?

Guest teachers are just as qualified to teach as any other teacher! However, the requirements for a guest teacher are slightly different than the prerequisites for other teaching careers.

According to the research that I did on the subject, most schools require guest teachers to possess at least an Associate’s degree. Some districts may require a Bachelor’s degree, but are typically more flexible about the subject of the degree (guest teachers may not be required to have a degree in an education-related field).

That some districts will allow you to guest teach with only an Associate’s degree is good news for a lot of aspiring teachers, as traditional teaching jobs almost always require a Bachelor’s degree. This means that you can work as a guest teacher while completing your schooling, allowing you to gain important classroom experience.

However, you will most likely need a teaching certification in at least one subject area to be a guest teacher, even if you haven’t gotten that Bachelor’s degree yet.

School districts may also ask for references who can attest to your teaching ability. Former employers and college professors are great options for references.

Requirements May Vary by District and School

As any experienced teacher can tell you, background checks are a vital part of the screening process for new teachers. Some schools also perform drug screenings. The same is true for a new guest teacher.

To be approved for a guest teaching position, you will most likely need to be fingerprinted and have various background checks and/or drug tests performed to ensure the safety of your potential students. Some school districts may charge a small fee to perform these background checks.

Some school districts may also require a health screening. Typically, this requires the new guest teacher to provide evidence of a recent negative tuberculosis test.

Once approved during the application process, the school district will probably require new guest teachers to complete on-site training. This can involve a variety of components, often including observation and shadowing of experienced teachers.

Useful Resources

Final thoughts

According to research on job outlook, careers in teaching are expected to be in high demand in the next decade. This is especially true for teachers who are qualified to teach multiple subjects.

If you think that variety is the spice of life, then guest teaching may be the career you’ve been dreaming of!

Simona Johnes
  1. I’m interested in becoming a guest teacher in science classrooms. I have a lot of experience as a chemist, but not much experience in a classroom. Who should I list as references on my application?

    • Just because you may not have experience working in a traditional classroom, doesn’t mean you don’t have skills that could transfer over. Have you led any large-group initiatives or managed a team? I would certainly list those on your resume and include your manager or director as a reference to speak to your leadership capabilities.

  2. Your article on What Does It Mean To Have A Guest Teacher in The Classroom was very informative and thoroughly explained ! I am a certified Special-ed teacher/ day to day substitute with CPS. The Principal at a school emailed me to apply to be a guest teacher at their school. I knew it was not a substitute teacher.


Leave a Comment