Should I substitute while in school to gain experience?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Landon Parks, Jul 9, 2016.

  1. Landon Parks

    Landon Parks New Member

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    Jul 9, 2016

    Hi everyone. I’m new here, and had a question that has been burning at me for a while now.

    First, a little background: I’m currently pursuing a BS degree in Elementary Education from WGU, and live in Ohio. I’ll be doing my student teaching in the fall of 2017, but I’m interested in finding way to start building my classroom experience while still in school. I feel this will better my chances once I graduate in Jan of 2018.

    I live on the border with Indiana, a state that requires only a HS diploma to get a substitute teaching license. I have applied at several schools for substitute positions (all within 50 min drives). Two districts have basically said sure – have at it – and are just waiting on me to attend an orientation at the end of the summer.

    So my question is this: Should I start substituting while still working on my degree? I feel it would provide me some extra classroom experience to put on a resume after student teaching. However, a few teachers I have talked to have said that subs are basically treated and paid like dirt, and they do not suggest going into subbing.

    Their reasons seem to be that it’s a bad way to ‘find a full time job’, since most districts are so short on subs that you’d hardly ever break into a full-time position that way. The thing is, I’m not really desiring to use it to break into a full time position – just to gain pre-degree experience.

    Any suggestions on this? Should I go ahead and submit my name to the sub pools? Would have the experience as a sub help me later on my resume when looking for full-time jobs?
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jul 10, 2016

    Yes and no. Let me start with the no. I began as a substitute with no education classes. For the most part, things went quite well. But I also found myself in some awkward situations. I was the new sub on the block, so I got called into a couple of classes no one else wanted. I also faced situations where having teaching experience would have made things smoother, although I was able to successfully handle the situations. Sometimes no lesson plans were provided or the materials were not in the room. One time a student had a serious medical emergency. Several times, students played pranks on me, since I was the sub. The caution I'd want to point out is that should a serious although unintentional mistake be made, this could reflect poorly upon your resume; my advice would be to always stay calm, never lose your temper (daily practice teaching invisible students with any kind of problem you can imagine--kind of like a drill so you react calmly in real situations), and when in doubt, ask.

    Now the yes part. Any experience is a plus. Another avenue, however, might be controlled settings--summer camp work, helping out in after-school programs, tutoring at an established tutoring service; in other words, situations where you are not totally on your own. I'd especially recommend this because today's classroom environments are much different than when I first started; there are more potential problems that can arise that might jeopardize your resume. Not that I wouldn't have faith in your abilities, more than likely you'd handle anything that came up with shining stars, but...even experienced teachers face extraordinary challenges. My recommendation is to wait until you're settled in a full time position before you face these challenges on your own.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 10, 2016

    Good advice from Obadiah. If you have had some classroom volunteer or observation experience, subbing could be a bit easier. If you've never been in a classroom (other than as a student), it could be a tough go. However, there are plenty of subs out there who have NEVER taken an ed course who do a great job.
    As for the advice from your teacher friends, you're not 'going into subbing'. You are honing skills and getting experience. Those are good things that will make you a more competitive candidate given you are a successful sub.
     
  5. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    Jul 10, 2016

    Experience sells. That's why I subbed this year. You get as much out of being a substitute as you put into it.
     
  6. miss-m

    miss-m Groupie

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    Jul 10, 2016

    You may have to check the district's requirements - some districts won't hire subs without a degree and/or teaching license.
    If your student teaching is full time though, I would say use that as your experience and don't worry about trying to sub on top of that and school work. I don't know what your student teaching schedule looks like, but when I student taught it was just short of full time teaching and any days I wasn't in my classroom I was doing college classes. It may be busy enough for you to so that without figuring out subbing schedules on top of everything else.

    Post graduation though, subbing is a great way to gain experience and practice teaching skills you may still be weak in.
     
  7. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Jul 10, 2016

    I subbed about 15 yrs ago. That being said I was still taking my ed courses. I also had worked as an aide(mostly copying, bulletin boards, worked with kids 1 on 1) in elem room in high school after graduating high school I volunteered for same teacher I aided for and in a K class. I did sub at that school (they would schedule me so far out I didn't have much time for other places... I took the jobs I knew I would have)and another one while taking college classes (our state required 90credits to sub). I really enjoyed it. I subbed K -6th and specials. I thought it was great. I was able to sub 2 half days and on Fridays. I did get a few like month long jobs during my breaks.

    I actually thought being sub helped & hurt my student teaching. The mentor teacher knew I subbed & threw me in without much direction which was ok, but would get upset if I didn't do things "correctly".

    I thought it was beneficial & I ended up getting a sub at school I did most my subbing at.
    Good Luck!
     
  8. Landon Parks

    Landon Parks New Member

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    Jul 10, 2016

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions :).

    You have all given me a lot to think about. Just to touch on a few additional points though, while I'm at it:

    In terms of requirements - I have applied at three districts and already been accepted at two. The third did want me to have a complete bachelors at the least. The other two seemed content with my 90 credits. It of course also means I would make about $15 a day less than my certified sub counterparts though.

    In terms of my time - I accelerated my classes the last two terms, and I'm now at the point where I only have 16 credits left before student teaching, of which I cannot accelerate those because the soonest placement they can get me for ST is Fall of '17, and I need at least 6 courses over each of the next two, 6-month terms. So basically, my upcoming schools schedule is pretty light at only about 6-8 credits per 6-month term. Because of this, I have a lot more free time to try and get a years worth of some classroom experience done before I really start the graduations process and enter the job market (gulp).

    I didn't go back to my seasonal job this past year, so that I could accelerate my courses and get those done. Now, however, I'll need to start looking for a job over the next year - so I can put funds back for the 12-weeks I'll be student teaching. I assumed that since I'd need a job anyway, the subbing might be a good idea to kill two birds with one stone: experience and money, plus a more reasonable and flexible schedule than a full-time or even part-time job would offer.

    In terms of my experience with kids and classrooms - I have completed 40 of the 60 hours of pre-clinical observations, and also have volunteered for the past three years as an assistant at a local elementary school - mostly helping out in various placing like working 1:1 with students on tutoring and such. I also have about 5 years experience directing youth theatre, which should count for something - though probably not classroom experience.

    Education wise I have completed almost all of the applications and methods courses at school, including instructional planning and classroom management. Will still be working on social studies, performing arts, and sciences methods this upcoming term, but have all the other methods and applications courses completed.

    So again, I want to thank you all for reading these posts and offering advice on this. Don't stop now though, please by all means keep the advice coming :), I can use all of it I can get.

    Thanks, - L
     
  9. Kellie McGrath

    Kellie McGrath Companion

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    Jul 10, 2016

    I just want to say that I have taught and directed youth theater for years and although it doesn't count as classroom experience, many of the interviews I have went on they have asked me about it and made them look at my resume more. I thought it was interesting
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jul 10, 2016

    I loved subbing, and I think you make good points for why you should give it a try. Will it be perfect? Who knows! Will you learn? You bet. Will there be days you hate it? Maybe. Should the paltry $15 less a day dissuade you? I think not, but that is up to you and your financial needs.

    Best of luck.
     
  11. teacherquestions

    teacherquestions Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2016

    I think it also depends on where you live/where you're looking to apply. It's better to sub than do nothing, but I'm in a competitive area where subbing is looked down upon (it's nnormally teachers who couldnt get hired the first time around). I think alot of the subbing that i've seen is basically babysitting and very little teaching. But again it totally depends on where you are and what you do.
     
  12. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Jul 10, 2016

    My experience has been review for a lot of my classroom lessons. I think as the teachers knew me better they left different lesson plans. Who knows you could get tutoring jobs. I would say though the first month-2 months is light...so you may want a back up if you are looking to get some money going. Not trying discourage you.... I just know it's not like new year & you get a lot of jobs. Just being honest. And about the last month slows way down too.
     
  13. miss-m

    miss-m Groupie

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    Jul 10, 2016

    And right around school breaks. January and after spring break were really slow when I subbed.
     
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  14. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jul 11, 2016

    It sounds like you've done a superior job planning ahead and looking at all the variables, good and bad. You're not just jumping into something blindly. Another thought I had, that would look great on a resume, is to try your hand at writing, perhaps writing scripts for theater or even television. Writing, even though I hadn't been published, was a plus when it came up in several interviews when asked about my hobbies and I think it was a selling point in obtaining my previous teaching job (where I taught a long time). This was before there was a push for students writing in the classroom. I caught wind of parents asking the principal why I had my students write so many essays, and the principal said, "Oh, that's because he's a writer himself in his spare time."
     
  15. Landon Parks

    Landon Parks New Member

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    Jul 11, 2016

    Funny you mention writing. I actually have a middle grade book Published by Griffin Young Readers and another book ya/middle grade book series coming out from Maple Creek Press this fall.

    I'm a huge fan of kidlit, mainly middle grade and ya fantasy. I don't tell too many people that, given the looks a grown man gets when he says he reads kids books. Sue me :)
     
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  16. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jul 12, 2016

    Congratulations! I've only had one magazine essay published. I wrote mainly for my classroom after that, but I'm looking forward to soon submitting elementary age books for publication.
     
  17. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    A bit longer reply since I have some time to kill today.

    Subbing is experience, but that's not the important thing (coming from a former Superintendent who is the current vice chair of Teacher Education where I got my MA). The important thing is networking and being someone they remember for the right reasons. There will be days where you question why you went into it at all (I had days where I would leave my house 1.5 hours early for a job 20 minutes away just so I could get my head right and not take out my bad feeling about subbing on kids who deserve the best). Others have mentioned it's a pros and cons thing...and they're 100% right.

    Pros:
    Networking opportunities
    Seeing what classrooms your style works for (and doesn't work for)
    "Experience"

    Cons:
    "Experience" is often marginalized by admins in interviews
    Respect sometimes is hard to come by
    Many, many people will deride you with "You're just a sub" or "If you were a real teacher..."

    I could go deeper into each of these, but there's plenty of people who have subbed who can help fill in the blanks. I sometimes regret my decision to substitute last year, but I know that I wouldn't have gotten summer school or my baseball coaching job without it. So it really is a double-edged sword, but you can make it work for you.
     
  18. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Jul 13, 2016

    I say get as much as experience when you can as soon as you can. I wish that I had taken it more seriously and subbed when I was in school for the money and experience (network opportunities.) You want to get your name out there so if a teacher needs a sub they can say, "Oh yeah, x, I like that guy(gal) and requests you." Yes in the beginning your knowledge, management, etc., may not be great, but who cares? Get in there and start making yourself known. That way in interviews when they ask you questions you can answer them with experience to back you up and can have references. If you interview in a district where you have sub taught, then they already know you so it's better for you. And then by subbing you can figure out which grades/ subjects you want to teach and more importantly, which you don't.
    :)
     
  19. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Jul 13, 2016

    We had a student/substitute who arranged a Color Run fundraiser for our school. She did all the organizing and planning. She also started an after school club. Both I think looked great on her resume and letters. She did already have a Bachelor's Degree though and just went back to school for teaching.
     

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