Easing the tedium of substitute teaching

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by LimaUniformNovemberAlpha, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. LimaUniformNovemberAlpha

    LimaUniformNovemberAlpha Rookie

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    Feb 19, 2021

    I've taught at schools so short-staffed that their own full-time teachers were the first ones turned to in order to fill in for teachers who couldn't show up.

    Perhaps this is for the best, as it has given me a glimpse of just how mind-numbingly tedious substitute teaching can be, at least compared to having an audience for a portion of the class when teaching your own teachables. I would never have believed the difference was so stark if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

    Most of the time, it consisted of just supervising students while they catch up on bookwork or projects. There has to be something more involved a substitute teacher; especially one from the same school; can do than just that. Hopefully, something more beneficial to students and staff alike.

    Often times, teachables are based on your major and your minor. But one often has electives in addition to your major or minor. Why can't these electives be accepted as the basis for getting to teach a more involved lesson on the subjects to which a substitute is assigned?

    University credits aside, high school transcripts can reveal an outstanding grade in the same course they proceed to teach, and brief assessments of a substitute teacher can confirm whether or not they retain an adequate portion of it after all these years.

    Course credits aside, many schools have "pre-tests" on a given course, for which if a student demonstrates prior knowledge of the content well enough, they are excused from ordinary classes to get a head start on future courses' content with the other more knowledgeable kids. Why can't we have similar pre-tests for substitute teachers, to see if that podcast they like to listen to is truthful enough; and retained well enough; to allow one to teach a subject that podcast is about?

    Academic criteria aside, what of other jobs substitutes have? Substitutes range from full-time teachers to full-time substitutes, but in the middle are people who substitute part-time and have jobs other than teaching part-time. Wouldn't the perspective of a substitute teaching something they learned on the job, rather than from other academics, be a little more refreshing?
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 19, 2021

    Honestly? I LOVED subbing, comparing it to having my journeyman's papers after my apprenticeship (aka student teaching). Working in six different school systems around the region gave me a ton of insight into multiple socioeconomic communities, which helped me to focus where I wanted to work full-time.

    Additionally, I simply loved having something new to challenge me every day. Students would be happy to see me when I was in the room they entered, but they also knew my basic rules (as well as those in the lesson plans).

    While I am now in love with my school and my student population, it was a joy to be the "special guest star" in front of random classes within a wide swath of my region.
     
  4. LimaUniformNovemberAlpha

    LimaUniformNovemberAlpha Rookie

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    Feb 19, 2021

    I could see it depending on the district. Where I grew up we had the same set of substitute teachers for junior high that we had for senior high, even though we had a completely different bunch of course teachers. There was something refreshing about seeing people whose dealings with us at both levels of school bridge the gap between them, and them getting to know the same set of students over the years.

    Where I substituted, though, I didn't know the students very well (never stuck around for long) and they gave us the most basic of ideas for substituting. (Presumably on account of the same short-staffed nature of these schools that made them turn to their full-time teachers to substitute in the first place.)
     
  5. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Feb 20, 2021

    In my county, we can never get enough subs. 90% of the time, if a full-time teacher is absent, no sub can be found, and her students are split up and sent to other teachers (in elementary school) and in middle and high, other teachers have to give up their planning time to "cover" -- meaning they have no prep time and simply have to follow an "emergency sub plan" with no advanced warning or time to even read over it until they step infront of the class.

    It is so bad here, that they have lowered the requirements for public school subs in our county to the following: You must be 18 or older, and you must have a high school diploma. That's it! No college classes required, no experience of any kind, a short two-day training program on identifying child abuse and following state mandates for children with special needs (which is all done online) -- and you can be a substitute teacher. It has been particularly challenging in high school, because some of the subs for seniors classes are actually younger than the students!!!!!!! (Many seniors are 18, or 19 if they've been held back once, and some students are up to 22 if they are special needs students.)

    In our district, we can't be picky. They used to require 30 hours of college credit. Now it's just "a high school diploma." The sub for a 10th grade physics class may be an 18 year old who doesn't understand a single thing about physics. It is either him, or having the music teacher, the art teacher, the PE teacher, and the computer teacher give up their planning that day and cover the physics class. We certainly don't have the flexibility to be determining a sub's strengths and interests. If they can keep order, keep the kid busy, are at least 18 years old, and have a high school diploma, we are lucky to get them. The district does pay a teacher a small amount for giving up their planning to cover classes (because it happens so often that you can go weeks without getting a planning period.)

    I know there are other districts where they could be more choosy, but in areas like mine, where there are huge teacher shortages, we open school every single year without teachers for many classes, which means starting the year with long-term subs (who have to be 21, but still need no experience or college) or over-booking classes. Our state law says my class has a max of 18. I've never opened a year with less than 28, and while they'll open a new teaching position and try to hire another teacher, it is usually at least February before they manage to fill the position. That is what happens in a state where beginning teachers earn $38,000, and 20 year veterans earn $46,000.
     
  6. Guitart

    Guitart Companion

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    Feb 20, 2021

    Things I liked about subbing:
    1. Schools rolled out the red carpet for me - a para if I requested it, security when needed, free lunch if I wanted it.
    2. I was an independent contractor - I worked when and where I choose.
    3. I got extra "hazard" pay at some tough inner-city schools.
    4. The forgiveness factor - I could mess up procedures or lessons and the school was always appreciative that I was there and willing to come back.

    Seriously, if subbing came with benefits, I may have continued doing it longer. I have also said before, if being a para paid what a sub makes, I probably would have stayed a para.
     
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  7. LimaUniformNovemberAlpha

    LimaUniformNovemberAlpha Rookie

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    Feb 20, 2021

    Challenging in the sense that the high school seniors are upset someone younger than them has already earned a higher status than them, or in the sense that being young activates some sort of instinct to treat them as a classmate instead of an authority figure? I know I've been mistaken for a classmate by junior high students, let alone senior high students, and though in any other walk of life that'd be neutral or an asset, there's a part of me that wonders looking back if it in teaching that might've been a liability. (There's a reason my avatar's a millennium-old unicorn who doesn't look it!)

    I'm not sure why the USA is still so skinflint about teacher pay. Has anyone ever done a study on whether shaving a year off the curriculum would be less harmful a way to cut corners than having a whole group of people who are working paycheck-to-paycheck, too busy balancing budgets to lesson plan to their full potential, and under-nourished from the filling-but-unhealthy cheap foods their food deserts are known to have? Or is it not about costs but the idea that if you pay them a decent amount, somehow the next teacher coming out of a teaching college will be in it for the money yet not immediately expatriate to one of the many countries that pay more?
     

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