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Thread: Substitute teaching

  1. #1
    Member cincrazy's Avatar
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    Substitute teaching

    Anyone here with any experience in substitute teaching? Or maybe any teacher's in general that could give me some tips?

    I start my sub career tomorrow for the high school, I'm a bit nervous! But I'm also confident that the class will respond to me and be ok. Any suggestions from anyone?

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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Don't be too laid back or they won't take you seriously...I'm not saying be a jerk...there's a fine line there! Good luck! I've only been teaching about 3 years now (I graduated when I was 29) and love it. Luckily, I never had to substitute teach as a job came open mid year for me.

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    Member cincrazy's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Quote Originally Posted by redsfanfalcon View Post
    Don't be too laid back or they won't take you seriously...I'm not saying be a jerk...there's a fine line there! Good luck! I've only been teaching about 3 years now (I graduated when I was 29) and love it. Luckily, I never had to substitute teach as a job came open mid year for me.
    Thanks a lot, I really appreciate the help. I just turned 23, so I'm barely older than a lot of these kids, it should be an experience no doubt!

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    RaisorZone Raisor's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    If possible, stay away from the Junior High kids. They can smell fear.
    "But I do know Joey's sister indirectly (or foster sister) and I have heard stories of Joey being into shopping, designer wear, fancy coffees, and pedicures."

  6. #5
    Member cincrazy's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Quote Originally Posted by Raisor View Post
    If possible, stay away from the Junior High kids. They can smell fear.
    Thanks. Yeah, I actually told the gentleman in charge of everything that I wanted to stay with the high school crowd. Also, I'm going back to school to get a master's in education at the high school level, so that will help me on my resume also.

  7. #6
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    I did it over one fall/winter period when I first started my business. It definitely depends on the school district, and to a smaller extent, the teacher you are subbuing for.

    I subbed in the OKC Public School District and did elementary, middle, and HS (mostly middle school). I don't want to scare you, but a few of those days rank as some of the worst in my life.

    Now, I went into some REALLY bad schools. It was a madhouse. It was as if my only job that day was to keep the kids from killing each other....literally. Some of the kids were so rude, angry, and uncontrollable. I've got LOTS of specific stories if you ever want to hear them

    At the end of those days, not only was I exhausted and relieved to get out, but I was also so sad about the state of the school, etc. I felt horrible for the vast majority of the kids and got very angry with the system along the way.

    Having said that, once I learned what schools to avoid, things got better. I subbed at a Charter School here locally and that was a total breeze. The teacher had specific lesson plans laid out, the kids all had routines, and they knew there were consequences if they didn't do what they were supposed to do. On those days, it was easy money.

    There were literally times when I'd get to a school and the administration wouldn't know where to send me. After awhile, they'd finally figure it out and once I got to the class, there would be NOTHING planned. Zilch. A nearby teacher would usually scramble over and tell me to "make the kids do this worksheet or something." It was a mess. The kids could absolutely sense the lack of organization and they ran wild with it.

    One trick I learned: Come prepared with your own stuff to "teach." I found a few simple subjects (like how a credit card works and how it differs from a debit card) really caught their attention.

    In the end, I think it all boils down to what type of situation you are heading into. If it's a good school with an organized teacher, then things are probably going to be pretty simple and you'll find it enjoyable. If you go into a downtrodden school, with a disorganized teacher, where kids are throwing up gang signs....then it's gonna be a really, really long day.

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    Re: Substitute teaching

    One quick example...and this is really a social commentary more than anything.

    Subbed one day for a gym teacher at a pretty rough HS.

    This was 100% what they told me to and what they gave me to work with.

    There was a gym detached from the main building. I was given TWO basketballs and these instructions "don't let anybody in or anybody out." That's it.

    I was stunned when "class" started. This was "block" scheduling, so I really only had 3 classes that day...each lasting for almost an hour and a half. It was a mix of 9th and 10th graders.... as many as 40 kids in the gym at once.

    TWO basketballs.....40 boys.......a hour and half............It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

    I now see why they didn't want any outsiders coming in. Straight up street thugs pulled up to the gym and would try to get in.....or get their buddies out. At one point, I was using my body to brace the door.

    Kids were fighting....I stopped more fights that day.....and these were "real" fights. When I buzzed the front office, there was little to no reponse. At one point, a kid broke a windown. At another point, a boy started urinating on the gym floor....I think he was dared to do it. I figured that would get the office riled up..but all they did was send me a security guard.....when the guard got there and noticed it wasn't a violent act, he left. No one even cleaned up the urine.

    One of the "nicer" kids told me that the last sub got jumped...lovely to hear that. And I don't doubt it. When I tried to tell kids they couldn't leave, I would get verbal threats...many looked ready to clock me. I'll tell you, it took all I had to restrain myself-- there was so much anger that day-- channeled in all the wrong directions by all the wrong people.

    When the day ended, I left in a daze. I was bothered by this for days after, if not weeks. As you can tell, that afternoon still bothers me.

    They threw the kids in a gym and locked the door.....treated them like animals......and the kids reacted in kind. Some education.

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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread. Just read my replies and they kind of "strayed" Just figured I'd pass along my experiences as a sub.

    I do want to reiterate that if you are in a decent district/setting, I am quite sure everything will be great. I had no problems in the schools that had things under control.

  10. #9
    Member cincrazy's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Quote Originally Posted by Edskin View Post
    Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread. Just read my replies and they kind of "strayed" Just figured I'd pass along my experiences as a sub.

    I do want to reiterate that if you are in a decent district/setting, I am quite sure everything will be great. I had no problems in the schools that had things under control.
    Hey you didn't hijack anything, I appreciate the responses! I'm actually subbing at a district that's top notch locally. Year in and year out it's ranked as one of the best districts in the area, if not the best. One of the high school's is also my alma mater, so in that regard things should go smoothly.

    But your point on some inner-city schools is not missed at all. From k-8th grade I was in the inner city school district, and all hell broke loose on a daily basis. In the 9th grade I moved to a county school (the district I'll be subbing for) and the organization and discipline is remarkable.

    And I give you credit. If things ever get as bad for me as they did for you, I don't think I could tolerate that for very long at all.

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    Kmac5 KoryMac5's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Some tips:

    Be firm, fair, and consistent with the kids.
    Have a plan and use it, if they say Mr. or Mrs. Teacher doesn't do that, tell them Mr. or Mrs. So and So isn't here and I am.
    Use humor, a little humor can go along way.
    Be you, kids can tell if you are for real or plastic.
    Teach with energy and excitement, if you are interested the kids will be to.
    Be prepared for anything and everything, handle each situation with a calm confidence.
    Follow up, if a kid gives you a hard time follow up with them or their homeroom teacher.
    Pick and choose your niche, I always liked to sub for elementary school kids, some subs like older kids.

    It will be tough until the kids get to know you and what you are about, after that they will make their decisions based upon how well you did or didn't react.

    Is teaching something you plan on making a career out of, or are you trying to get your feet wet to build a resume. IMO long term sub jobs are the best way to get a foot in the door, for full time jobs that open.

    Good luck and have fun.
    If you have a losing record at Reds games, please stop going.

  12. #11
    Member cincrazy's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Quote Originally Posted by KoryMac5 View Post
    Some tips:

    Be firm, fair, and consistent with the kids.
    Have a plan and use it, if they say Mr. or Mrs. Teacher doesn't do that, tell them Mr. or Mrs. So and So isn't here and I am.
    Use humor, a little humor can go along way.
    Be you, kids can tell if you are for real or plastic.
    Teach with energy and excitement, if you are interested the kids will be to.
    Be prepared for anything and everything, handle each situation with a calm confidence.
    Follow up, if a kid gives you a hard time follow up with them or their homeroom teacher.
    Pick and choose your niche, I always liked to sub for elementary school kids, some subs like older kids.

    It will be tough until the kids get to know you and what you are about, after that they will make their decisions based upon how well you did or didn't react.

    Is teaching something you plan on making a career out of, or are you trying to get your feet wet to build a resume. IMO long term sub jobs are the best way to get a foot in the door, for full time jobs that open.

    Good luck and have fun.
    Thanks for all the advice. I really appreciate all of the responses from everybody so far.

    I plan on making teaching a full time career. I'm still a few years away from completing the necessary schooling, but I figured the more sub teaching in the mean time the better!

  13. #12
    Member cumberlandreds's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    My wife is a sub in Loudoun County Virginia. She has done this for about 9 years. She mainly just subs in middle school and HS. She prefers them than to the little ones. There is more physical work involved with them and more detailed attention has to be paid to them as well. She mainly does special ed classes. She really likes to work with the handicapped both physically and mentally. I think she gets a lot of satisfaction in helping those kinds of students. Plus no one else wants to sub their classes and she can jobs with those nearly everyday. She does regular classes too. She comes home from a lot of those totally exhausted. Kids today just don't have the respect that one's from my generation had. Some of things said to her have truly been shocking. If you can get honor student classes get them. Those are the best students. They come in and go to work and have very little problems with them. You just have to try out all the schools and different classes to find what best suits you. You may have some rough one's until find those you like best. Best of luck to you.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

  14. #13
    Member cincrazy's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Quote Originally Posted by cumberlandreds View Post
    My wife is a sub in Loudoun County Virginia. She has done this for about 9 years. She mainly just subs in middle school and HS. She prefers them than to the little ones. There is more physical work involved with them and more detailed attention has to be paid to them as well. She mainly does special ed classes. She really likes to work with the handicapped both physically and mentally. I think she gets a lot of satisfaction in helping those kinds of students. Plus no one else wants to sub their classes and she can jobs with those nearly everyday. She does regular classes too. She comes home from a lot of those totally exhausted. Kids today just don't have the respect that one's from my generation had. Some of things said to her have truly been shocking. If you can get honor student classes get them. Those are the best students. They come in and go to work and have very little problems with them. You just have to try out all the schools and different classes to find what best suits you. You may have some rough one's until find those you like best. Best of luck to you.
    I COMPLETELY agree with your statement that the lack of respect today is incredible. Third period, I was trying to get the attention of the class, and a girl said "WHAT!?" Very obnoxious, very rude. I was extremely upset, but I held it in. Stared her down for a minute, got my point across fast enough.

    The day went ok for the most part. The kids spent most of the day testing my limits, trying me out. I think I did ok, but I'm not so sure I like this high school

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    Re: Substitute teaching

    Point your kids to the beer pong thread.

    Then tell them that if they stay in line & do their school work, they'll get to go away to college, where beer pong is just the tip of the iceberg.

  16. #15
    We Need Our Myths reds1869's Avatar
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    Re: Substitute teaching

    I have the unique experience of having subbed for a year after being a full-time teacher for two years; I've now been back at it full-time for four years. Be tough. In my own classroom I try to keep the atmosphere light but respectful. It work for my personality and the kids respond positively. Do NOT do that as a sub; you will be destroyed. I learned quickly that a sub needs to cut a commanding figure. You are only there for a day or two and the kids will ride their first impression out for the duration. Be firm but fair, and don't let the kids forget for a second that you are a teacher, not a babysitter.

    All that said, I loved my time subbing, particularly subbing for Westerville. If you find out which buildings are good for you and get in good with the administration you will do well. I even got a job offer from Westerville that way, though I turned it down because I had just signed a contract here in Cincinnati the previous day. Good luck and enjoy your experience!


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