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Mercury's Message:

I cannot believe they have the nerve to tell grown folks they can't leave the building on their lunch or prep??? I have never heard of such a thing! That would not fly in my district, the teacher's union would be all over that. Humph!

And in my district, they can't make you work during your prep. They can ask, but you can say NO without penalty. I often say no.

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
NJSubteacher 06-21-2013 03:49 AM

In most other jobs, all you get is a lunch break. All schools should def allow you to leave during their lunch break, but for those of you who have been in this racket ad long as me know that many times we are needed during our "prep" and therefore shouldn't leave.....especially without telling someone first!

crockpotqueen 06-21-2013 03:44 AM

I find that ridiculous. Not allowed to go to your car in the parking lot while you have no students in your charge? I can understand not leaving campus, but for heaven's what other job are you not allowed to go to your car for a moment on your BREAK?

Dougie 06-03-2013 09:51 AM

I would never leave the school for prep in an elementary school or middle school, only in high school. Also I only leave the school if the prep Falls before the lunch or after lunch because that gives me almost a two hour break. That's when I go home and play with the baby.I find the administrations at the high schools to be much more lax then elementary schools.

lovetosub 06-03-2013 07:16 AM

Regarding the OP, to be honest, I would not leave the building when subbing unless it was an emergency, and even then, never without telling the office. I cannot count how often I've been called to help fill in for another teacher or cover another class during my prep. There are different rules for us. Yes, maybe regular teachers can leave to run to their car, to run errands or pick up something during their prep/lunch. However, we are not the regular teachers and different rules apply. JMHO

That said, the principal was out of line for talking to you in this manner. If you did something wrong, they should have addressed you privately and in a manner much more professionally. Shame on her.

OK4NOW 06-03-2013 03:14 AM

The things we have to do to earn a $, like turn in our keys nobody knows...making a confession I carry an old spare key with me to turn in.

I never would have went into this profession if I knew then what I know now.

I've learned how to "play the game" when I am there after burning some bridges thinking someone would care.

texteach55 06-03-2013 03:08 AM

There are several schools in my area that when a sub signs in she must turn over her car keys in exchange for the key pad. I guess that stops anyone from leaving the building.

teacherinWA 06-02-2013 10:38 PM

Could it be a case of displaced anger. Even if it is a rule - I would think any rational person would just nicely let you know that you are required to stay in the school during prep. What about lunch? Are you able to leave then?

I do leave sometimes or have gone out to my car. If I am going to be a bit of time I let the front office know just in case I am needed. The only time I could see it being an issue is maybe in MS or HS and only if they need you to cover another class. The only time I ever was needed for that was in TX - which actually I almost never had a prep time to get things done. I usually had to cover other areas because they were short-handed.

I guess a wise thing would be to "ask" if there would be a problem to leave campus. To me there shouldn't be as long as you are where you need to be other times.

Smilingsub 06-02-2013 06:57 PM

I'm sorry that happened to you. I hope you get a request from the school soon.

musix452 06-02-2013 06:48 PM

I was very quiet. I mostly could not believe what was happening. I said I apologize, and that I didn't know it was the policy. It was so sad.

LynneLC 06-02-2013 06:03 PM

At elementary schools, I only leave the building during Prep to maybe get something from my car. Most of the time I'm writing a note to the teacher, organizing papers, preparing for upcoming parts of the day, etc. I have sometimes left the building during Prep at the middle school and high school when the preps are longer. Never had a problem doing so.

That is ridiculous that the Principal chastised you in front of other people. Very inappropriate. She should have spoken quietly to you and said that the school's expectations are that Substitutes stay in the classroom/school during Preps. What did you say in response to her?

Beethechange 06-02-2013 02:35 PM

It had to be my second yr of subbing and I was soooo hungry I crossed the street on my prep to buy a bagel and coffee. The store was literally across the street and the streets were so close to each other, it was only a few feet. . As I was paying for my bagel i got a call on my cell and it was the school secretary! I think she had seen me cross the street since the office and the exit door faced each other. I told her i just crossed the street for a few minutes to get a coffee and she yelled at me so hard that I ran out the deli and forgot my bagel. In other schools, no one really cares and other schools have even encouraged me to sit "at the teachers cafeteria or go outside" these have been words told to me by secretaries when they tell me my schedule. So I was surprised when this school screamed. Anyway three hrs and counting later...I never go out on my prep just because of that day.

Smilingsub 06-02-2013 11:14 AM

@grav_def Yes, really! 50 minutes. One school I sub at even gives a 1 hour lunch period! Their academic periods are a bit longer than other schools though.

@ gray-def and Nietzsche Some schools here have sub folders or sub info sheets. Others schools have nothing,not even a class schedule for subs and just give us a room number to go to. I know the protocol in the 5 schools I regularly sub in and use general guidelines for the rest. Unspoken general rules are: Cell phones must be on silent and cannot be answered except at lunch or during prep. You can leave during lunch. You cannot leave during prep periods or extended day sessions even if you are not assigned to a class during that period or even if the faculty is involved in planning sessions and all children have been dismissed.

Nietzsche 06-02-2013 10:24 AM

In some of the schools where I sub, it is stated in the sub folder that you must sign in and out of the building if you leave for lunch. I don't think they mention prep period.

grav_def 06-02-2013 10:18 AM

We are entitled to a 50 minute lunch period and a 50 minute prep period.
Off-topic, but really?!? Wow!! I <3 my district, but we get 30 minutes for lunch, and a prep is the luck of the draw: A teacher might or might not have one on a given day.

On-topic: I leave the building so rarely that I don't even know policy. Like a PP mentioned, once or twice I've had an am job extended to full-day, and so asked for (and received) permission to take a few minutes to run to Subway or something, but that really falls under the 30-minute duty-free lunch that I'm entitled to no matter what. Usually prep periods and lunches are so short that I'm just rushing around and/or eating, and wouldn't have time to go anywhere anyway.
Smilingsub 06-02-2013 09:31 AM

In the NYC public elementary schools , we don't have "duty" periods. We are entitled to a 50 minute lunch period and a 50 minute prep period. If I worked at a school that wanted us to let someone know when we walked out of the building, I would have no problem doing that. I am accessible at all times by cell phone and am always within a half mile radius of any school I work in when I go out during my lunch period. No one has ever called me during that time except for secretaries from other schools who call to book me. Although we are entitled to a duty free prep period, if they need me for coverage, they always call while I am in a classroom and then I just get a different prep period that day. I worked in about a dozen different schools this year and always follow the protocol of whatever school I am in. The very few times that I came back from lunch 5-10 minutes into the prep period, it was while classes were still going back to the rooms from recess. There is sometimes a gap between lunch periods and academic periods.

NJSubteacher 06-02-2013 06:54 AM

Yeah, in my districts for MS and HS, there are normally 2 prep periods and a short 20 min lunch period. One of the prep periods is sometimes a duty period like hall duty or lunch duty. This past year due to sub shortages, all subs are normally asked to cover a class during one of the preps, but Don't have to do the duty period. Sometimes we are notified at the very time we are needed so if we just walked out the building without telling anyone, it would probably be immediate grounds for dismissal. So since the principal did yell at you for leaving the school, then it's a similar school as to where I work...meaning you need to tell someone you're leaving. To me it's common sense no matter what job you are doing. My wife works for a major engineering firm, but still has to tell someone when she's leaving the office so someone can cover for her or if someone is trying to find her for something. It's called being professional!

Lottalove 06-02-2013 06:10 AM

and it was also a closed campus for teachers and students. BUT, it would seem like standard procedure to check out through the office if you were leaving the building. Either to pop by or call the office seems standard. Maybe I am naive or just from a little town, but that was my experience both as a sub and a teacher--and now a para in a different school. Though I only subbed in one school, I was a teacher in another and a para in a different state but all 3 three schools are small and rural.

It does make me really sad that the P was so ugly to you--I hate it when people talk down to me, especially in front of others-- If she felt the need to reproach you, she could have done so quietly or totally in private.

I have learned the hard way though that not all the rules apply to all the staff. Subs are definitely treated differently than regular teachers almost everywhere I've been.

3leggedtable 06-02-2013 05:51 AM

I'm sorry the principal was rude to you.

In our district subs and teachers often leave the building during prep. or lunch. One sub "Jean" always makes a coffee run. We will be together next week and I am already looking forward to ordering a large ice tea. Hopefully, you will not run into this lady again.

musix452 06-01-2013 10:09 PM

Thank you all for your replies, it was helpful to know of all of your experiences with preps. I will return to the school (given that they call me) but I of course will stay in for my preps.

musix452 06-01-2013 10:08 PM

Njsubteacher, I am not sure of the policies in NJ, but in NY subs are entitled prep times which cannot be denied. I cannot be asked to cover a class and not get a prep all day. It's simply not allowed. As far as them having a right to scold me, I beg to differ. I am an adult and a professional so they have a right to inform me of the policy and tell me not to do it again. They do not have a right to scold me in the middle of a crowded hallway, speaking down to me as if I am a child.

Smilingsub 06-01-2013 08:54 PM

Where I work, even subs are entitled to prep periods. If we don't get a prep period, we either have to be paid for it or they have to make it up to us by giving us an additional prep period. I often use my prep period to actually prep - depending on when it is scheduled. I've used it for planning and gathering materials from other teachers or the school library when no lesson plans have been left. I use it for reviewing unfamiliar material that I will be teaching or I use it to start my end of the day note to the teacher. If I am in an early childhood classroom, I use the time to go through the kids' folders and put in new assignments and notices. If it's early in the day, I'll make a seating chart.

I've never been in a school that has a policy that requires subs to let the office know if we leave the building during the lunch period. If I said something, they'd probably look at me strangely and ask me why I was telling them.

Mercury 06-01-2013 08:45 PM

I cannot believe they have the nerve to tell grown folks they can't leave the building on their lunch or prep??? I have never heard of such a thing! That would not fly in my district, the teacher's union would be all over that. Humph!

And in my district, they can't make you work during your prep. They can ask, but you can say NO without penalty. I often say no.

NJSubteacher 06-01-2013 07:34 PM

We are not allowed to leave during prep unless we clear it with the principle or secretary first to me, that's simple common sense because in many cases we are needed to cover a class at that time. We are allowed to leave for lunch, but still have to tell the office staff so they are aware. If you just walked out without telling anyone, I can see why they got upset and had every right to scold you.

momandsub 06-01-2013 05:16 PM

I have only left once during a prep during my years of subbing, I was assigned a half-day and ended up being needed for the whole day. Cafeteria lunches have to be pre-ordered, so I asked if I could run down the street to pick up food. They were fine with it, lunch break is too short to have enough time to pick up food and have enough time to eat.

Smilingsub 06-01-2013 07:10 AM

Ah, she's one of THOSE principals. I work in two schools with principals like that. I try to "fly under the radar" in one of the schools and I honestly don't think the principal even registers my presence. She's got quite a reputation in the district. I only go there because it's my quickest commute and I only work there sparingly. In the other school, the principal is well aware of my existence when she needs something but I have never been yelled at - YET! I go there because my favorite secretary is there and I have subbed there long enough to know teachers, students and protocol. I worked with another principal like that and although she never yelled at me, I decided it was too stressful working there and no longer accept assignments from that school even though I really like the secretary. Besides the secretary, do you like the school? Even though the principal has a temper, something like this will be forgotten - unless she's like the principal in the first school I mentioned. If you keep getting calls from them to sub, she didn't take it as seriously as you did.

subteacher13 06-01-2013 06:59 AM

Is it possible that they were paging you to cover something while you were out? I am a permanent sub and sometimes they have an emergency that they need me to cover during prep time. Technically prep time is for teachers to prep for the following days/weeks...not just time off for them. So if a sub is there, they will sometimes pull them for coverage since clearly subs don't need to prep.

My school is really awesome and flexible as long as we really work hard when they need us to. If I need to go to my car, I let the secretary know "hi, I'm running to my car for a quick second". If I'm going to be out there for an extended time...I'll tell her to call me if she needs me (though I'm never out there for that long). There have been times that I wanted an iced coffee...and in that case, I enlist my co-horts (coworkers for the day) to help me out. I take orders from everyone (they give me money for their order) and they are in charge of listening for my name being called...and covering whatever needs to be covered if I'm called. I have also been approached by grade level team members to run out for them and they cover for me.

Teachers have contractual prep periods which normally can't be touched...but subs don't. Of course, I don't think she should have addressed it that way.

OK4NOW 06-01-2013 05:43 AM

When you said about the adminstrator's reputation...I think some times people just don't realize how their comments are perceived by others. Make the decision that is best for you as far as returning to the school. Take care.

musix452 06-01-2013 04:37 AM

I am definitely aware of the policy, but the truth is, I've subbed in atleast ten schools this year and I have never had this problem before. Even yesterday, after covering a teacher for her prep, she walked back in with a cup from a restaurant which she drove to. I feel the principal was being a jerk for no reason. And no, its not just a bad day, she has a reputation for having a temper. I'm even considering not returning to the school, despite the fact that before yesterday I never saw her, and I love the school and the secretary loves me too. It was just so insulting.

OK4NOW 05-31-2013 11:05 PM

Sorry normally I try to post positive comments but when the administrator said:

"Is today your first day subbing ever?"-it made me cringe.

I could say so much more about that comment but I am refraining.

Take care and I am sorry this happened.

Sublime 05-31-2013 10:07 PM

I'm still on the clock during prep period (we don't have it in elem., only jr. hi. and hi. school). Plus the office might call me and ask me to cover another class or do something for them. Or if there is a fire drill I feel like I should be there. If I do leave the room to sit in the sun or the lounge I always let the secretary know.

However, to be yelled at in the hallway is inexcusable. All she had to do was inform you of the policy. Just like when I see kids being belittled...all it takes is a nice tone of voice to correct the behavior, not a mocking or sarcastic one (in the majority of situations).

Dougie 05-31-2013 08:58 PM

I go home and have lunch on my preps and say hi to my little baby.

whatever 05-31-2013 08:34 PM

so we always had to clear it with the office before leaving the building.

It was the same way when I became a full time teacher. Prep is different from breaks. Prep is considered planning and conference time, not necessarily free time, for regular teachers. So the same applies to subs at those schools. It doesn't matter that you have no significant planning or prep to do.

Smilingsub 05-31-2013 08:23 PM

Oh, and as far as what the principal said to you, she could have just informed you that their policy is that no one is allowed to leave the building during their prep. Maybe she was just in a bad mood and took it out on you.

AD 05-31-2013 07:48 PM

When I subbed at a local high school (they had 90 minute periods) I subbed for this one particular teacher. He had a 90 minute prep and 30 minute lunch back to back. I lived between 5-10 minutes from the school so I'd go home and take a nap!

In elementary schools I never left besides running to the car if I needed something. IDK, I just didn't feel comfortable leaving. I felt like it was more noticeable than at middle or high school.

Now that I have a class (elementary school) I almost never leave. I remember leaving once a couple years ago to run to the store. Otherwise the thought hasn't crossed my mind.

I'm on the fence about it. Technically during your prep time you are still getting paid and on duty so you should be at school as it's your work time just without students. However, lunch is duty free and you should be allowed to leave the building during your lunch.

theapple 05-31-2013 07:25 PM

At all 3 schools I have been at, we have always been able to go to our cars during prep/planning. I have gone to my car to get money, get my name tag, to make a phone call and even just to sit there in absolute silence for a couple of minutes.

My first year at my first school, we could even leave campus during our preps, as long as we had no students of course. At the middle school, we never even had to go sign out or let anyone know we were leaving. We had a gas station next door and a fast-food restaurant down the road that we would go to.

When I moved down to the elementary level after my first year, I would ask to go to the store a block away as long as I was back before planning ended and I would let them know that I was back. They never cared.

At my current school, we can leave, but have a procedure to go through. I don't have a reason to leave nowadays.

I guess I do understand if they do not want you leaving, but they should not say anything about going to your car during preps, especially since you are still on campus. Just my opinion there.

NewbieTeach13 05-31-2013 06:19 PM

Wow, I've never heard of teachers not being allowed to leave the building! In my district, teachers leave the building for lunch, to run to the store, run home and let the dog out, etc. That principal should have found a nicer way to speak with you about protocol!

cannohara 05-31-2013 05:35 PM

Any time I've had a prep and wanted to go out to my car or run down to the store, etc., I've always cleared it with the office first. I usually tell them that this is my prep period and I am done with my work and if they don't need me to do anything else can I go out to my car or whatever.

I leave everyday during lunch time at the school I sub at because I only live a mile down the street and I need to let my old dog outside to do her business so she doesn't make a mess in the house.

Either way, I always clear it with someone first.

StellatheSub 05-31-2013 05:31 PM

When I leave the building during a prep or special, I sneak out the side door, and I make sure no one sees me. Then I walk right back in the front door, but they have no idea how long I was gone. "Oh, I had to go grab something out of my car......" It looks good if you have something in your hand. I've also had an end of the day prep, and the teacher told me to just leave after all my classes were done, it was music class. Left my badge in the classroom, told the teacher I would, snuck out side door, and got paid for 7 hours and worked around 5. It was a bonus day. Do I feel guilty about all this? Not really, after all the abuse a sub puts up with, I just feel as if doing these things preserves my sanity. The easy days make up for the really bad days.

Smilingsub 05-31-2013 04:21 PM

The reason why we are not allowed to leave the building during preps is because the school can be held liable if we get injured. I do know of a teacher in one school who ran out to her car for a few minutes during her prep and got yelled at. If I have lunch right before my prep, sometimes I eat lunch in the building. go out for air and come back five or ten minutes into my prep but I've never gotten in trouble for that. One school that I sub at does allow us to leave the building during last period preps but we are told to be very careful while we are out and we have to return to clock out. At another school, we are allowed to sit on the school steps outside during our prep to make phone calls because there is limited cell reception inside. Some schools are more flexible than others.

And I know exactly what you mean about not having a room to go to and having to spend your prep period in the teacher's lounge...sometimes I just want a few minutes of peace and quiet. In another school, the teacher's lounge is filthy and has lots of bugs and I don't ever eat in there and I don't want to sit in there during my prep.

musix452 05-31-2013 03:56 PM

Today, I had a principal literally scold me as if I was 5 years old in the hallway in front of a bunch of people. I had gone out of the building for my prep, to go to my car because I had some important calls to make. I didn't even have a room today, I would've had to spend the day in the teacher's lounge which is full of gossipping and chit-chat. I would much rather avoid that nonsense. Upon coming back to clock out (last period prep) the principal spoke to me in such a disgustingly hostile voice "Is today your first day subbing ever?" And she proceeded to tell me that I can't just do whatever I would like and I have to follow the rules. LIKE I DIDN'T KNOW THAT. Excuse me, but every single staff member goes outside of the building for prep! Really!

Have any of you ever gotten in trouble for leaving the building during your prep?

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