Substitute teaching is not just for teachers. If you want to learn about your new community, make some extra money, or try out a new profession, consider substitute teaching. It’s also a great way to learn more about a school district, especially if you are thinking about sending your kids there, teaching full-time, or volunteering there.
Substitute teaching is fun because you never know what you’re going to get. You might spend a whole day outside supervising sports games for a P.E. class, or you might watch a French movie with students in A.P. French. You might have a class full of nasty students who drive you to the edge of tears or a class full of sweet little kids who hug you at the end of the day. And even after the horrible days, you never have to go back to that classroom or that school again if you don’t want to.
In “good” school districts, it can be difficult to get on the regular substitute roster because many former teachers and community members are already substituting there. Be flexible and consider subbing in other districts, or subbing in subjects and age groups that are outside of your comfort zone.
Substitute Teaching Specifics
Who: If you like kids and are up for an adventure, then try substitute teaching. Many school districts don’t require that you have a teaching certificate, though you usually need a Bachelor’s degree. You can check state by state regulations at the NEA website. You’ll need to be flexible and not too hard on yourself because students, especially older students, are notoriously rough on their substitutes. Have a good sense of humor and you’ll be fine.
Where: Consider applying to several districts, as it can take a while before you are called in regularly. You can also check out private/independent schools and charter schools, although these schools often hire full-time in-house substitutes and aren’t looking for per diem subs.
How: You must apply to be a substitute teacher, and usually you have to be fingerprinted (to prove you are not a criminal). Check out the local school district website, most applications are online now, and they include directions on how to get fingerprinted. Be willing to substitute for any class and any grade level and the person looking for substitutes will be more likely to ask you to work. Use your network and let school officials know you are available.
Advantages: You can control your own schedule. You will always get to work a traditional Monday through Friday schedule. You will probably have plenty of jobs that involve giving students work to do and reading your own book. You get to spend time with children/young adults. You have no responsibilities after the school day ends.
Disadvantages: It can be overwhelming to step into a classroom and work with students you have never met before. You might get tired of being around children, especially if you have your own. Eventually, you will have a very bad day when the students are extremely rude and noncompliant.