Does Substitute Teaching Get You Closer to or Farther from Full-Time Teaching?
July 5, 2004 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Substitute teaching. Is is bearable? More importantly, does it get you closer to full-time teaching jobs, or move you down on the social scale and thus further away?
posted by argybarg to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it worth it? I can't speak for you, but I quit that profession. Too little support from the district as regards extended-term subbing, too much political work to get in the shortlist for full-time work, and too great a bias against male teachers in primary grades (K-4).

The pay wasn't bad, a couple hundred dollars a day, but I'm not entirely sure it was fair value for the amount of stress, creative thinking, and plain ol' grunt work that the job required.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:08 PM on July 5, 2004

Heh, in my area, subs get $75 per day, and are spit and shat upon by everyone, including students and admins... wouldn't recommend it.
posted by ac at 1:12 PM on July 5, 2004

"Used and abused"
posted by ac at 1:13 PM on July 5, 2004


Interesting you should mention that bias. I can't count the number of people, teachers included, who have told me "Oh, we need good men to teach elementary school" often followed by "especially good young teachers" -- yet it doesn't happen, does it? I just came in second on a 2nd grade job to a nice, pleasant-looking middle-aged woman with lots of experience. She must have struck the parent on the committee as being a very pleasant and harmless choice for her child.
posted by argybarg at 1:31 PM on July 5, 2004

I can't speack for the profession personally, but I had a friend that tried it and ended up getting death threats for breaking up dice games in the back of the room (between kids who weren't even in his class). These kids were such rotten eggs that the administrators told him to take it seriously and consider moving and buying a new car.

He went into insurance claims.
posted by pissfactory at 1:35 PM on July 5, 2004

My mother, after some years of stay-at-homing & volunteer work, started substitute teaching when my sister & I got old enough. After about five years of same, she got a couple of term positions, and finally made it to a contracted part-time teacher position (Chemistry and Biology) at my old high school. I doubt that she would have taken a full-time position had one been offered, so the question of whether or not she could have climbed all the way from substitute to full-time is unanswerable.

That said, it also helped that she already had a fairly marketable skill in that regard, i.e. a Master's in the natural sciences (Biology, I think.) I'm not sure what the result would have been if she was trying to do the same thing with, say, an English degree. Also, she was doing most of her substitute work in a upper-middle-class school division without (very) many discipline problems.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:45 PM on July 5, 2004

I did some subbing before doing my student teaching. The pay is crummy here in Utah, but even considering that, I actually felt like the experience was better than student teaching (maybe *especially* considering that, given that you get paid nothing ... no, actually *pay* to do student teaching).

Howerver I *always* subbed a subject I knew well. Usually, that fact alone shocked students enough that classroom behavior problems were minimal. Also, I never had to put up with schools that drew from a decaying urban area, and I always picked high schools (two junior high/middle school jobs convinced me that was not for me -- sterner folks might have better luck). So I think if you pick your subjects and schools well, it's not a bad gig.

That said: substitute teaching is not a career path. Unless by luck you completely endear yourself to the administration and other faculty at a local school or stumble on a situtation where they're totally desperate, or find a private school that doesn't care, you must have a teaching certificate to get in.
posted by weston at 1:56 PM on July 5, 2004

I would not subject myself to substitute teaching. You walk in the door with multiple strikes. First the kids do not respect you and discipline becomes the order of the day, not fun. The administration doesn't expect anything from you. The regular teacher has probably left some mundane babysitting activity behind. You will most likely not be held in high regard by the other teachers.

It has been my experience that those looking for full time teaching positions simply apply for that and skip the substitute part. That is my suggestion.

The only exception I could think of would be taking a long term sub job and be allowed to skip out on part of your student teaching while getting paid for it, it can happen in Texas.
posted by busboy789 at 3:10 PM on July 5, 2004

In California, at least, your best bet is to get your CLAD or BCLAD credentials. A teacher with both English and Spanish is valued highly in our district.
posted by SPrintF at 3:34 PM on July 5, 2004

A teacher I worked with did substitute work for a few years and then got a full-time position at one of the schools she subbed at. From what I saw, substitute teaching was not onerous in the schools I worked in. Many in the substitute pool appeared to have been doing it quite a while and were well known to the teachers and students. The teachers had to line up the subs themselves if they needed to miss days, so they really liked knowing who they were leaving their classes to, and the subs liked knowing what to expect from the classes.

I got the impression that one could pick up as much or as little work as desired and scout around the schools in the area to get an idea of if/where one enjoyed the work. I don't think the environment would be as tight-knit in the larger public schools. I found teaching very stressful; I probably would have found substitute teaching even more so since I need a routine and to know what to expect, which is against the nature of the job, of course.

I never did student teaching. My experience is from small Catholic K-8 schools in which official requirements for the teachers were more relaxed than in public schools (and the pay certainly reflected that). I was hired straight out of college because I had a degree in the area I taught (Spanish); another girl my age was hired as the 6th-8th grade science teacher since she had a science degree (biology, I think?). Neither of us had certifications or any experience teaching.
posted by Melinika at 3:55 PM on July 5, 2004

I enjoyed subbing years ago when I was in between globetrotting trips, at a high school level at least. (I am a certified teacher, and am hell on wheels when it comes to classroom management.) That said, one of the most traumatic experiences of my life was subteaching elementary school kids. Never again.

Lordy, I loathe children.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:40 PM on July 5, 2004

« Older Idling a car with the AC on   |   Deleting Mystery Files Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.