Saturday, October 10, 2009

What I Do

So, I'm back to subbing after a two-year teaching gig. There are pros and cons to substitute teaching ... let's be positive and start with the pros, shall we?

1. I don't have a boss. My "boss" is an autodialer that offers me jobs, I can accept them or turn them down, pressing a number that indicates "Illness," "Unavailable," even "Working in another district." No one checks the excuse, there is no paperwork to fill out, and no one catches it if I say I'm sick when some ghetto-ass elementary school calls me and then 5 minutes later accept a job from a ritzy high school.

2. No lesson planning, grading, parent phone calls, etc. I arrive 15 minutes before school, leave 15 minutes after the last bell, go home and chill.

3. No staff meetings. You think your cubicle job has awful staff meetings? Micheal Scott's got nothing on a self-important principal who has a PhD in education yet hasn't been in the classroom in several decades.

4. No one even knows who I am. There is pretty much no accountability as long as the room doesn't burn down.

5. Most of the time, kids are happy to see you. A "sub" means easy busywork, a video, a reprieve from the planned quiz. They are especially happy if they don't like their regular teacher, or if you have been in the classroom before and they liked you. And kids usually love me.

6. The whole district is my classroom. I see "my" students everywhere, in every neighborhood, and they usually give me a shy little wave or smile.

7. The pay is actually pretty good. Especially for a new teacher who would be pretty low on the pay scale if they had a contract job.

8. I learn a lot. I test lots of classroom management techniques, and get to see how different classrooms are set up. I steal copies of handouts I like and write down particularly good lesson plans or projects for future use. I also learn things about the content area I'm in - a bit of Spanish here, a brush up on algebra there, a literature classic I never read.

9. Networking. I do want my own classroom and freaking contract, one day. By traveling to lots of schools I meet a lot of other teachers and sometimes even administrators. These are the people who will convince the district that I need to be hired, should some budget money magically appear.

10. Kids are neat. By kids, I mean any human aged 4 to 20 who is attending public school. By traveling to all sectors of the district I meet kids from lots of backgrounds, with a huge variety of talents and interests. I love days when the worksheet is easy, and I can travel from table to table, chatting with fascinating people.

I like to keep these pros in the forefront of my mind, especially on bad days (which shall be addressed, never fear). As jobs go, mine is pretty interesting, with good benefits, decent pay, and maybe someday (if we get out of this recession), room for advancement to my own classroom. Keep your fingers crossed!


  1. Your first one made me laugh aloud. I get a human and one choice, whether it be ghetto or moderately ritzy, and I can only work in one district, unless I take myself off the list for one day a week to work in another one. And if I turn down five jobs (for any reason, I think), I"m off the list. For subbing, you have it made.

  2. Thanks for pointing out so many positives! It's so easy to find horror stories about teaching and especially subbing. My mind can think of plenty of scary situations on its own, thank you very much. A positive spin is very much appreciated!