Know You're Not a Friend
About a week into my first student teaching experience, my cooperating teacher gave me some great advice. She must have noticed that I was trying really hard to get the students to like me, so she offered her expert opinion: I wasn't there to be a friend.
As a substitute teacher, your job is to take the place of the classroom teacher, and you need to be a professional and follow the lesson plans that were left for you. Oftentimes, substitute teachers think the key to gaining control of the classroom and earning students' respect is to be a friend. But if you focus on palling around with your students, you'll end up shirking your professional duties to avoid upsetting your new friends.
Instead of worrying about whether the students liked me as a person, I decided to focus on being a likable teacher. I found that the key was to be polite and friendly while still maintaining my authority.
Further reading: 7 Tips for Substitute Teachers on How to Be Productive
Strive to Be Their Mentor
While you may only be with the students for a short time, the best way to earn their respect is by being a mentor. I saw this firsthand when I was subbing in an urban school district and noticed that a veteran teacher in the classroom next door was always talking to her students in the hallway. When I asked how she got her students to open up, she said, "By taking two minutes out of your day to talk to the students, you're showing them you're interested in getting to know them, and when you do this, they'll respect you more."As a mentor, you can counsel students and help guide them while maintaining your authority status. Mentors can provide valuable feedback and advice, and have a major impact on a student's life. So instead of trying to be your students' friend, try to be their mentor.