I’ve been out of school for over a year now and substitute teaching has both opened my eyes and solidified my love for teaching. Now I’ve only been subbing for a year but it really has taught me a lot.
Let’s face it substitute teaching is the best and the worst thing you can experience.
There are a ton of upsides for being a substitute teacher: minimal planning, less time spent at school, ability to make your own schedule (if you sub often enough), and a huge range of experience, different classrooms, grades and subject areas. But like everything else it has a flip side: less money, less consistency, less creativity, more management problems, more wishing to have your own classroom.
I think the ultimate upside is that everyday you learn something new, something unexpected happens, and you gain new methods of teaching and dealing with surprise issues. When I first started subbing, I was terrified. So terrified that I would’ve rather not worked and been homeless then spend a day in a classroom. But I knew teaching was something I loved so I bucked up, read some books and got back in the classroom. It’s nice because you can test techniques on classes. May not work the first time but you have a hundred other classes you could be in to try again, the experimentation is a luxury.
Another thing you deal with a lot of disrespect and “you’re not a real teacher” comments and eventually starts to lose its effect. But you become stronger and find ways to let it roll off your back. You are a real teacher, but you aren’t their real teacher, but you do have the same authority and should expect the same respect. Sure you may come across as ‘that mean sub’ but you may have to be strict to be productive, even if you don’t believe that’s who you are as a teacher. Think of it like this, every year teachers step into a new class, they will have to show dominance, create rules and be a little strict before you can open the floor for fun. As a sub, we just have to do this every first time we are in a classroom 😛
Since starting as a sub I have had many firsts:
– First time I sent a student to the office. (Great kid, but bad behaviour)
– First time I had a student dislike me so much they wished I would lose my job. (Same kid)
– First time I used the “Name on the board” technique. (Worked wonders)
– First time I taught a class a game and the students demanded it so often it worked its way into her sub plans.
– First time I felt like I could do anything (like teach math…yes, I now confidently believe I can teach math)
As a substitute teacher everyday of teaching is a day of professional development, and it’s totally awesome.