I like teenagers. (Really, I do!)
November 22, 2012 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Are you now or have you ever been a substitute teacher in Chicago?

What's it like? How often do you work? What credentials are required?
posted by she's not there to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm so laughing right now. Are you also a sadist?

Here's a link to the Illinois State Board of Education site.

Here's a listing of the current openings (most schools hire over the summer, so looking now may not yield the best results.)

Now, I went from 20 years in the corporate world, with a BA in English and an MBA to teaching in a public school in Pompano Beach, FL.

It was probably the hardest job I've ever had. I was so stressed that my blood pressure went up to 180/120. There were an average of 36 teenagers in my class, the optimum class size is about 20.

The work load is unbelievable. Teenagers are not very nice, and they are especially not very nice when they are in a group of 36, in school and would rather be playing grab-ass with each other than learning things.

What do you know about classroom management?

The reason I ask is because I thought I would mesmerize the kids with my love of the subject, and transfix them with my brilliant insights. That's all well and good, but first you have to get them to sit down, quiet down, and get in a frame of mind to actually learn something.

Now I chose the worst school in the district, because I felt that I had the most to contribute to these kids. I probably did, and my intentions were honorable. BUT. These kids had 12 problems to solve every morning before they got on the school bus.

Here are some of the problems:

1. Get my brothers and sisters fed and on their bus.

2. Get MY kid fed and to day care.

3. Check on mom and her trick to make sure that they didn't die of an overdose last night.

4. See if there is enough food in the house for dinner tonight.

5. Take the EFT card out of mom's purse so she doesn't sell it.

6. Avoid that pervy guy who likes to feel up teenage girls on the way to school.

7. Play a few hands of spades to see if I can make enough money to buy something for dinner tonight.

8. Clean the house so mom won't have to do it when she gets home from her night job, so she can sleep a couple of hours before her day job.

You get the idea.

I entirely endorse your idea, if you are well and truly prepared to execute it. If you think you're going to show up, be cool and that the kids will automatically love you, well, you're living in a fantasy world.

This is a hard job and it doesn't pay nearly enough. It's even harder for substitutes. But hey, no one could tell me anything, so I suspect I can't tell you anything.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

The salary for a sub in Chicago, one who works every school day, is around $27,000.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:29 AM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Never worked in Chicago but I currently work in DCPS and I want to echo a lot of what Ruthless Bunny says. Part of the problem is that a lot of these kids have very little stability anyway so coming to school and seeing the same teacher every day is a big deal for them. This means that when they come in and see a DIFFERENT teacher they are even more off the chain than usual (and they are usually in pretty bad shape anyway, a lot of them). It's an honorable choice as Ruthless Bunny points out but seriously for your own sake I wouldn't substitute teach in an urban school district without about twenty years of regular, solid classroom teaching behind me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:33 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't speak for Chicago. But I am a high school teacher. And I've done some substituting as well.

I started with no formal experience or training and went into full time teaching...

...and I got my ass handed to me.

My recommendation to people who want to be a teacher: Don't.

My recommendation to people who want to be a substitute teacher: Please don't.

Loving teenagers isn't enough to do this kind of job. It's soul-killing at times, and even the best teachers wonder if they'll make it another week, let alone another year.

Seriously, find a high school that's willing to let you sit in for a day on classes so you have a better feel for what it is you're signing up to do. There's really no better preparation than just being in a classroom, watching what it's like. And try to watch different teachers - seeing a good teacher who has the room engaged and on task makes it look easy. A teacher at the helm of a rapidly sinking ship is more the norm.

Good luck. Feel free to memail me if you have more specific questions about the job itself.
posted by guster4lovers at 11:33 AM on November 23, 2012

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