Guest Teacher Issues

Guest Teachers—the term many prefer over the more common “Substitute Teachers”—play an essential role in our students‘ education and in making it possible for educators to survive CPS, being able to take days for professional development, personal business or take care of their health or that of family members. Guest teachers have an especially difficult job, walking into classrooms day after day where they don’t have the advantage of long-standing relationships with students or the instructional arc of a unit plan. Below are resources to support these essential educators.

Last updated November 29, 2022

Know Your Rights Flyer

Guest teachers are vitally important to CPS schools. Guest teachers play an essential role in our students’ education. School communities depend on guest teachers to ensure that learning continues in the absence of an assigned teacher. Below are some specific safeguards and policies that support and protect our members who work as guest teachers.

School Assignments

Guest teachers shall work in a respectful and supportive environment. If you accept an assignment less than one hour before the school’s start time, contact the school to confirm that the assignment is still available. If so, you will be allowed an hour of travel time. If a school fails to provide prior notification upon arrival that an assignment was canceled, you should immediately contact Substitute Services who will approve payment for a half day or help you secure a full-day assignment at a school nearby.

No guest teacher shall be penalized for time errors generated by the BOARD’s substitute staffing system (currently Frontline). The BOARD shall report school start times accurately on the substitute staffing system. (Article 27-11)

According to Section 4-3 of the Board Rules, day-to-day guest teachers may not be assigned to fill the same position on a day-to-day basis for more than twenty (20) consecutive student attendance days.

Cadre guest teachers may only be assigned to fill the same position for up to twenty (20) consecutive student attendance days.

Guest Teacher Work Day

Guest teachers are paid 6.25 hours per day. You are entitled to a 
duty-free lunch. Despite the Board’s position that guest teachers are ineligible for preparation periods, the Union encourages you to continue to advocate for preparation time. The duties performed by guest teachers are to be instructional and should follow the teacher’s schedule. You should have access to technology at the schools where you accept assignments. You also have the ability to provide feedback concerning your assignment in the feedback section provided by CPS in the Frontline system.

Guest Teacher Incentive Pay

Guest teachers (excluding cadres) who work 15 or more days in a month, including a set number of Mondays and Fridays in the month, will receive a $1,000 stipend. The required number of Mondays and Fridays for each month is as follows:

  • September & October: 5 days per month
  • November, December, January, February and April: 4 days per month
  • March and May: 6 days per month.

Per CTU advocacy, CPS has agreed that day-to-day and provisional guest teachers who work 75% of working days will be eligible to receive the $1,000 additional stipend.

For any month that a guest teacher (excluding cadres) works 12 or more days, that teacher will receive an additional monetary stipend of $420 per month.

All guest teachers who work during Aug 22-Sept 9, 2022 will receive a daily $30 stipend in addition to any other eligible stipends.

For any day that a guest teacher works in a high need school, that teacher will receive an additional monetary incentive. Additional pay will be $45 per day.

There are 150 high need schools that are part of the Substitute Teacher Incentive Program. For the 2021-22 List of Incentive Schools please go to or click on the following link These schools will also be identifiable in Frontline – indicated by the word “incentive” following the name of the school.

Special Education Incentive Pay

Any day that a sped-endorsed retired guest teacher works in a special education class, that retired teacher will receive an additional monetary incentive. Additional pay will be $35 per day. Retirees must be careful to monitor the number of days you work. You can work up to 140 days in a given school year before it impacts your retirement benefit.

Details about the Substitute Teacher and Special Education Incentive Pay can be found in the guest teacher Handbook.

Citywide Cadre Guest Teachers

Cadre guest teachers are guaranteed work every day of student attendance. A principal may permit a Cadre Teacher to work on professional development on report card pick-up days, provided that the local school pays for the cost of such service. Make sure that you have confirmation of compensation in writing before reporting to work on a non-student-attendance day. As a cadre teacher, you are eligible for single coverage health insurance and holiday pay if you work the school day before AND after the holiday.

If you are a day-to-day guest teacher and would like to be hired as a cadre guest teacher, you must:

  1. agree to work three days per week; and
  2. commit to accepting assignments in any and every school.

If you are interested in becoming a cadre teacher, please contact Substitute Services.

Short-Term Substitute License

To address the guest teacher shortage, CPS will now be accepting a Short-Term Substitute Teacher License for candidates with an Associate’s degree or at least 60 college credit hours. For information about obtaining a license and employment, go to

Remember to Stay Active as a Guest Teacher!

According to the CPS Substitute Handbook, in order to remain an active guest teacher in CPS, you MUST work at minimum one day every 120 calendar days during the school year. If you do not work at least once every 120 days during the school year, your employment as a guest teacher may end. We are currently in the process of negotiating a temporary extension to this policy. Stay tuned for more details concerning this policy.

Right to Union Representation

Guest teachers have the right to union representation for disciplinary matters including investigations conducted by the CPS Law Department, Department of Children and Family Services, the Office of Inspector General, and the Office of Student Protection.

Right to Notification of Derogatory Statements

Guest teachers have a right to be notified if they have been blocked or excluded from a school. Additionally, Article 34-3 states, in part, that any official report or statement originating within the CPS may be placed in the employee’s personnel file only if the employee is sent a dated copy thereof at the same time. The employee may respond and such a response shall be attached to the filed copy. You have a right to receive a copy of any derogatory statement placed in your personnel file, especially if it can be later used against you in an investigatory conference.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at 312-329-9100 if you have any questions or concerns about your rights as a guest teacher. ▣

Substitute Teachers Handbook

The Chicago Teachers Union worked diligently to ensure that CPS produced this important document to provide guidance, support and expectations for guest teachers.

Join the Displaced and Guest Teachers Committee

The Displaced and Substitute Teachers Committee was established in 2010 to address the needs of members who are displaced from closed positions and/or who are working as guest teachers in classrooms. Click the button below to download the committee application form, which is to be completed and returned to President Jesse Sharkey for approval and assignment.

General CTU Information

Sign: Our working conditinos equal your child's learning environment

Find Your Union Representatives

Your union field representative and organizer have your back. Find out which staff members are assigned to your school.

Current Contract

Your contract is powerful… if you use it! Union staff will help you learn your rights and will back you up every step of the way.

Sign Your Card

Illinois is now “right to work for less.” Beat the anti-union attack. Join CTU!

Sign Now