I used to be a substitute teacher. After my undergrad internship, before going to graduate school, and after finishing my dissertation for a couple of months. And honestly, to say it was hell on earth is an exaggeration. As in, it was worse.
Guys, I’m serious. It is the worst! And I’m going to be 100% honest, when I was writing the draft for this (because I draft everything and add or delete as I type) I couldn’t think of a single thing to write about it. Not because it’s not there, but because I was sputtering with anxiety and anger.
Let’s start with the job itself. Some days they don’t know where to put you until the very last second. [I hope you like running to the high school because class starts in five minutes.] You get to deal with admin and office peeps who treat you like a throw-away job. And you get paid dick-diddly compared to teachers, which is really saying something considering teachers get paid dick-diddly!
Speaking of teachers, how are they with subs? Better than admin. Sometimes. I will say I don’t appreciate lack of instruction [no lesson plans?…um…free day?], lack of protocol [no, I wasn’t aware I was supposed to be outside during recess, and yelling at me will not help matters], and lack of respect. No, I am not certified in education. That does not mean I’m dumb. That does not mean I’m less than you. And that definitely does not mean you get to be rude to me because you need a scapegoat. And that definitely does not mean you get to leave me a bad review because I left you a note about how your ‘star student’ refused to listen, called me names, and threw every sort of fit imaginable before he was sent to the office.
Sorry, that got a bit personal.
But lastly, I want to talk about the worst part of substitute teaching: the students. Is there some sort of unspoken law about being a student that requires you to be such a dick to subs? What happened since I left school? I was always thrilled for a sub, because it meant less pressure, less busy work, and perhaps even a free day. Nowadays, it’s like a challenge to make a substitute crack. ‘Let’s see if we can make her cry’. I don’t understand. Because I am not your regular teacher, you feel it necessary to call me names, disrupt me, ignore me, or even mentally/emotionally abuse me? I don’t understand!
Again, as I write, I’m getting pretty anxious. Got some PTSD from this…
The whole point is: be kind. Substitute teachers go through enough already without extra abuse. They are people. Treat them as such. Be good to them. From someone who used to be a sub, who was ridiculed by admin, teachers, and students alike.
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