A Year of Subbing

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Groups of high school students in the school library I substituted in, during a National Writing Project event

Well, as of last Wednesday, I have just completed my first full year of substitute teaching. Though I got my  certification last year, I only taught one or two days a week because I was still in school. This year, however, post college graduation, I have dedicated myself to substitute-teaching to gain experience in classrooms and figure out which schools I would want to work at long-term. In the meantime, I have worked evenings and weekends as a waitress, since substitute-teaching does not pay very well.

And what a year it was! I subbed 3-5 days on a week, on most weeks. I spent 123 days of the past school year subbing at 20 different local schools (elementary, middle, and high), experiencing 42 different classrooms throughout those schools. I’ve substituted for a variety of teachers: English, math, science, art, PE, business ed, ROTC, social studies, and even ESE inclusion.

I had the opportunity to work at a local high school, as the media specialist/ library, for almost 3 months, while she was out on maternity leave. I had the opportunity to spend almost half of the rest of my subbing days at a middle school that I love working at, making connections with students and teachers, in hopes that I will be able to work there next year.

Substitute teaching is by no means easy, but it can be very rewarding, and I have learned so much from the experiences I have had. I am blessed to have observed how so many teachers run their classrooms, conduct lessons, manage behavior, decorate/ arrange their classrooms, and deal with student issues such as cell phone use, social disagreements, and disrespect.

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When I began subbing, I felt much like Nemo as he faced the “Ring of Fire.” Now, however, I have crossed through the challenge and feel equipped and excited to take on a full-time teaching job for next fall.

Though I haven’t shared much about my subbing journey in the past couple¬† of years, I plan to write some posts reflecting on the experience and breaking down methods and strategies that gave me success as a substitute teacher.

Here are just a couple of posts to be looking out for in the next month:

  • The Power of Names and Seating Charts
  • Why Middle Schoolers are My Favorite Group to Teach
  • The Importance of Keeping a Substituting Log-book

Overall, if any of you have an interest in teaching, I would highly recommend starting with substituting. It helps you see what you are getting yourself into. If you can finish a year of substituting still full of spirit, ideas, and enthusiasm, then I think you have what it takes to be a teacher.

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