Life as a Substitute Teacher

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Try subbing they say… it’ll be fun they say…Where I live full-time teaching jobs are hard to come by. I graduated last year with my masters degree in education, and low and behold there were and still are no secondary history/government teaching jobs available within an hour in any direction  from my house. So I have tuned to substitute teaching making very little per hour with no benefits all to gain experience and keep my face fresh in the admins’ mind so when a job does open here (in a few years) I will be able to apply and hopefully get it. I was super excited and eager to get started and have been subbing for about a year now. The routine is pretty much the same unless I get lucky enough to get a class of students I already know. Luckily I am not in the journey alone either, I have several friend who also sub as they couldn’t find full-time positions here either. I know what you’re thinking… why don’t you just move, great questions. Well for one, have you ever been to Western Montana?! it’s unbelievable beautiful and Missoula, Montana has a sense of community unlike I have ever seen; simply put, I love it here, I am just minutes away from about 20 or more beautiful hikes and want to raise a family here. Secondly, my husband has a solid job here so we can’t just pick up and leave. so here is a break down of the sub life for ya!

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Yeah… I actually live in a place where people globally travel to see.

screenshot_20171213-171641.pngTypically I am able to book my “jobs” ahead of time as I pay a whopping $4.99 per month to have the Substitute Alert App, which I find great despite the price because I don’t have to be woken up by an automated phone call at 6 am when I use it. I can usually get about 3 days of work per week, but that does mean I work three full days, some shifts are only for a few hours, so I have to piece together work to make hours. I have recently become more picky about the jobs I am willing to take on due to some not so fun circumstances that have happened in other age groups I am not use to working with. So when you start subbing you will take any job as it means money, but you slowly start eliminating jobs you’ll accept.

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For example, I will no longer take on elementary school, like at all, as I am not trained to manage 30 little ones at one time and feel it is less teaching, and more like babysitting, listening to people tell on people for saying “the bad words i.e. ‘darn it.'” I will not take on gym classes as it is as if I am herding cats for 8 hours straight. I will not sub for band or choir because “you don’t keep the tempo right” and “you’re messing us up.” Oh boy and my least favorite, I will not step foot into a math class, regardless of the grade haha lets just say it’s not my strong suit. Now I don’t usually mind middle schools, but recently I have been avoiding them. So I am left with high school, non-band, non-gym, non-choir, non-math classes… so mot much to work with.

Now lets go through a typical day – I check-in at the school office and may or may not be provided with a key to get into the classroom and therefore may or may not have to find a random person to open the door, once I find the room. If I’m lucky the teacher will have left me notes with “problem students” and lesson plans for the day. Some times this doesn’t happen, in which case I have to try to manage the volume of 20-30 students as they sit in a class that I tell them will be a study hall for the day.

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I will then go on to take attendance… its not always smooth (lol). I often think, come on people give your children pronounceable names, but then will preface with, I apologize in advanced if I say your name incorrectly. If it’s a really “fun” group they will think it’`s a great idea to switch names or make them up entirely! Last week I was subbing in a 10th grade english class and a student told me he had to use the restroom so I said okay what’s your name so I don’t mark you absent. He says “Carmelo,” then leaves, so I go through the list and I see no Carmelo anywhere, so I ask the class his last name (naively thinking maybe he goes by a middle name or something) and they say it’s Anthony. Obviously there was no Carmelo Anthony on my list, and I didn’t know that he was a famous MBA start. So joke was on me. After attendance I will provide instructions and try to manage the noise volume for the next 50 minutes. And repeat for seven and a half hours.

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 7.35.36 PM.pngAlso highly important while subbing is to know who is messing with you. When kids ask “can I go to the bathroom,” I always have to say sure, but if you come back with coffee you can just go to the office site you are asking to go to the restroom, not the coffee cart, and no your friends can not go with you. Kids will tell you lies such as “well when Mr./Ms. so and so is here…,” but alas I must stick to my guns and let it be known I don’t care what their teacher does differently. I also have to fight tooth and nail to get them to put their cell phones away and to work on the stuff they were assigned. It’s not all bad, some days are really fun and I enjoy being around the students and being helpful when I can. I know its only temporary and that my classroom management skills will be killer once I actually get a real teaching job as a result of my subbing. I look forward to having my own classroom one day so that I can look back and laugh at these days.


Have you ever substitute taught?

What jobs have you done that interesting?

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Photo credits: creditCreditCreditCredit

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