Princess Muse

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Musings on Being a Substitute Teacher

I love my job.  Really, I do.

Oh, yeah, sometimes I complain about it, but name me one person who always is perfectly happy about their job and loves everyone they work with, and I'll name one person who's living a delusional life.

But, being a substitute teacher is great.   Especially an Elementary School Substitute Teacher.  My days are varied.  One day, I'm teaching 4th grade.  The next, it's 1st grade.  The next, 3rd grade.  Sometimes, I'm the Technology Teacher.  Or the PE Teacher.  Everyday, it's a new adventure.

Yes, sometimes the kids will act up and try to see where your limits are.  The key is to set the rules and follow through on the consequences...just like being a parent.  Try to make the punishment realistic, and something you don't mind following through with.  Don't tell the kids they'll have to eat lunch with you if you really don't want to have lunch with them.  (And some kids don't see that as a punishment at all!)

The nice thing about being a sub, at least to me, is that I sub in a school where I'm appreciated.  The teachers treat me as a colleague, not as a warm body.  They know that I'm willing to sub any grade, any subject.  I don't mind getting the last minute jobs (like I was really going to tidy up the house anyway?).  I appreciate advanced notice, but sometimes they (or their kids) get sick--it's not like you can schedule these things.

And I think the teachers know that I'm going to do the best job that I can.  I'm going to bring a positive attitude to their students.  I don't always need the detailed lesson plan (although, again, it's appreciated--less thinking on my part), as long as I know when I need to move to the next part of the lesson, or when the kids need to go to their "Special"... and when to pick them up.  I have enough life experience that I can stretch a lesson out if I need to, or I can have the class talk about something related to the lesson.

Don't think that being a sub is an easy job anymore.  Rarely do I show movies to the kids all day long.  No, I teach math, reading, science, social studies--everything their teacher would normally do.  With all the Standardized Testing done in our schools anymore, teachers rarely have the luxury of having a sub show filmstrips and videos all day long.  Sometimes, I have to--the teacher needs to see how the students handle the next lesson, or they're going to start a new unit, but those days are rare.  And, unlike a teacher, I have about 5 minutes to look at the lesson and figure out how to present it to the class.  Makes for some interesting lessons, sometimes!

Even though the pay is a lot less than what I could make as a full time teacher, there are some sweet benefits for being a substitute teacher.  I don't have to prepare the lesson plan, I don't have to grade the papers (although, sometimes I will mark right and wrong answers--but I won't put a grade on the paper, especially on a spelling test.  Things I would count wrong, a teacher might give the student at least partial credit for.), I don't have to get grades in at the end of the quarter, and I don't have to go to faculty meetings.  (Although certain teachers think that I'm at the school often enough that I ought to go to the faculty meetings!)

But the best part of being a substitute teacher is getting to know the kids and to know that they see me as a friendly adult and that I'm there to help them.  There's nothing better than having the students say, "Hi, Mrs. Katano!" or give me a hug as they walk down the hall.  Or if I see them outside of school and they get so excited to see me. (And then the next day, they come up and tell me, "I saw you yesterday at such-and-such place!")

One year, I subbed in the kindergarten so much, that every time I walked into the cafeteria at their lunch time, I'd be mobbed like a rock star.  Now, that's a great feeling.

Not as great as having your kids tell you how much they love you, but almost.

The kids sure do keep me aMused....


  1. The parents appreciate the job you do also. We always know when you have been there and it's always positive.

  2. Thank you! The kids make it easy....