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Rowe Rowe is offline
 
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No Longer Want to Sub
Old 12-01-2009, 11:32 AM
 
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As regular teachers, you have one thing that anyone who has ever been a substitute teacher craves: A STABLE JOB.

The best part of being a substitute teacher is of course being with the students. There is no question that the children are the highlight of the day, and they almost make one forget about the most frustrating part of being a substitute teacher, which is getting an assignment. I don't know what's happening in other states and counties, but in the state and county in which I live, the majority of teachers wait until the day they need a sub in order to request one, leaving a substitute teacher a short window of time to accept an assignment and get to the school's location. Substitute teachers are treated as though they are have no lives and as though they just sit around with a telephone glued to their ears, waiting to accept an substitute assignment only seconds after it is posted. Who lives like that???

Substitute teaching is not for everyone. For the vast majority of people, there is no way that they can maintain the lifestyle of a substitute teacher. One week, everyone needs a sub and you're paid well (well enough to get by). The next week, no one needs a sub and you're paid nothing. It is not a reliable job at all. That is why most new subs quickly realize they had better get a long-term assignment, and fast! Personally, I am fed up with chasing substitute assignments. Can anyone out there relate?


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Old 12-01-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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yes,,,totally....this is why I have a steady side job (p/t) but the hours are planned out ahead of time (weeks ahead) so I know what days I'll work and fill in subbing around it (even though it started out the other way around)

I find that subbing exclusively (not talking about long term subbing) doesn't pay the bills over the long haul..who can live on paychecks that can give 100's of dollars for one week and then zero the next few weeks!!!!

Alot of times, the teachers don't know that they themselves will be out of the class until the last minute (remember a lot of them have children/families too) so for those reasons I don't/can't blame them for the situations that arise

it seems like you have gone from the newbie/naive sub to the "let's get a reality check" sub...
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Old 12-01-2009, 12:47 PM
 
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Thanks Yoohoo for responding. I've been a substitute teacher for 8 years, and during this time, I've gone back to school for a Master's degree, which I'm still pursuing, and I've even made regular attempts to get more stable work. However, because I've spent so much time substitute teaching, that's what employers see first on my resume. In fact, I remember a regular teacher explaining to me how difficult it was for her to transition out of the education field having so much experience as a teacher. And so, she just decided to go back to school (Law School) and start from stratch. To me, that was a drastic (and costly) strategic move, but I suppose she did what she had to do to get away from forever being pigeonholed as a teacher.

The problem that I have with this new system that our district has adopted for locating subs (in our area, it's called SEMS) is this: Before SEMS, teachers were strongly encouraged to give advanced notice about their absence, because if they didn't, the administrative staff would spend all morning cold calling subs until they found someone who was available. And usually, the first to be called would be the school's most realiable and high-performing subs. Now that we're using this new system, everything has changed. Now, instead of a human being calling out for subs, a computer who has no idea who you are calls out for subs. There is no sub preference, and basically, whoever accepts the job first, gets the job.

That's why I'm done with subbing. Technology might be more convenient for us, but it's impersonal. A computer doesn't know how well you've gotten along with a group of students. A computer doesn't know how much you enjoyed working at a school. A computer doesn't know your grade or subject preference. And a computer doesn't know which substitutes are high performing and which are mediocre. It calls whoever. And whoever picks up on the other end, gets the substitute job. That's why I don't want to do this anymore.

There was a time people human beings did things for themselves, and they appreciated the individuality of the human being.

Last edited by Rowe; 12-01-2009 at 03:39 PM..
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We have a computerized system
Old 12-01-2009, 01:11 PM
 
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...but having the system DOES NOT stop teachers from requesting and getting favored substitutes. It may just take some time for folks to learn how to work the system.

For example, we have two substitutes who work at our school almost exclusively. They are both retired teachers who enjoy subbing, and they are highly sought after.

Sunday, I knew I needed a sub for Monday. I did NOT call subfinder. I called the sub at home (we have her number) and asked her if she could sub for me. She could. I emailed my principal with the details, and the secretary put the job into subfinder (and filled it with my sub).

I'm sure all the electronic systems have a way for the schools to imput specific subs for specific jobs, or even for teachers to request certain subs. (I know you can do that with subfinder.) You need to find out how that's done, and make up a business card that gives your favorite teachers ways to request you.
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Mentally
Old 12-01-2009, 01:38 PM
 
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I've been done with subbing, but physically I haven't been able to due to financial needs. In a perfect world, I would stick with my p/t tutoring job that I have during the year while looking for a permanent position for 2010, but my second job hasn't started up yet due to the school system (which is directly connected with the tutoring company) being a bureaucratic mess.

I suppose once I start tutoring my students, I'll stick with subbing once or twice a week at my preferred middle school (that has said they're going to start booking me for Jan. and Feb this week). I get calls/requests to sub all five days of the week, but I'd rather work less at a pleasant school that I'm comfortable with than work every day at different locations where the students and staff are uncooperative and look at me with disdain.

I can't wait until I'm hired in a school, I cannot express this enough! I finished my Master's last May, and I feel that if I don't have my own classroom for next school year, I wasted my time. While talking with a friendly teacher in the lounge yesterday, I told her that this was the worst job I ever had, and she sympathized with me. Maybe I'm exaggerating when I say 'the worst job,' but it's pretty close to the truth!


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Old 12-01-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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Thanks PrivateEyes for responding and for the great advice! You mentioned that it might take time for folks to learn how to use the new system, and perhaps that might be the problem. Considering all the other tasks teachers must do, perhaps teachers aren't learning how to use the system. When I first started subbing, I got most of my substitute assignments from the one person at a school whose responsibility it was to cold call subs, which was usually the school's vice principal. And I usually got those telephone calls at least one day in advance, and a live person was on the other end of the receiver.

I called my county's substitute office about the system, and I was informed that regardless of who a teacher or principal prefers to substitute at her or his school, she or he must use SEMS to post the substitute assignment for anyone to receive. Schools are not supposed to continually call one set of subs everyday, because it excludes new subs from ever having access to available jobs.

So this new system has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that it gives a larger pool of subs an opportunity to work. The disadvantage is that unlike most jobs, you're not rewarded for doing a better job than anyone else, because everything is based on need and not merit. Some teachers may take time out to put in a request, but most often the job just gets posted on SEMS, and whoever sees it first, gets it first.
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Does your system set preferred teachers?
Old 12-01-2009, 04:24 PM
 
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One of the three districts I sub at uses AESOP. A friend who is a teacher in that told me that at the start of the school year the staff is required to list their top-5 subs and anytime the teacher puts in a request for a sub those top five are called (in order). If none of them picks up the job on the first try, it goes out into the larger pool.

If you are on the preferred list, the AESOP system tells you Mrs. X has personally requested you for X job on X date.
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:57 PM
 
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^ I'm pretty sure SEMS has a feature like that, too, although I don't know whether districts can choose to deactivate it. The teacher I subbed for yesterday came into school briefly in the middle of the day and asked if I could come back today. I said I couldn't; I promised someone else months ago that I'd cover her classes today. SEMS still called me first when that first teacher put the job into the system, and I doubt she requested me since I'd just said I couldn't do it.
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Old 12-01-2009, 05:01 PM
 
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I wholeheartedly agree with you Kataqueen. I can't wait to be hired and to have a career rather than job. I so badly want to know what it feels like to know exactly where I'll work each day, and that I can consistently count on a pay check. With substitute teaching, you can't do that, unless you have someone at home paying all of your bills for you. I'm also done with my coursework for my Master's degree, but I have yet to pass Praxis. I have taken this test over and over, and have missed passing it by only one point. And so this year, it's back to being a sub again until I pass.

I can't even begin to explain to you in words just how frustrated I am at this whole ordeal. I am very disappointed about having to be a substitute teacher for yet another school year. It is as if my whole life has been put on hold. And when I think about it, it's shocking to think that if it were not for a single point, I would have been a teacher a long time ago. There is no money. What a substitute earns is laughable. The only thing that I like, and have ever liked, about substitute teaching are the children. They are only source of renewal that has motivated me to substitute teach. When I'm with the children, I don't even remember all of the challenges that must be endured to be a regular sub. For a short period of time, I can just revel in the pure joy of being a teacher to the many children that I encounter.

Last edited by Rowe; 12-01-2009 at 05:36 PM..
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Old 12-01-2009, 05:05 PM
 
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Wow. That's cool. I've never heard of a school requiring its teachers to list their top 5 preferred subs. Maybe all schools should do this.


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Old 12-01-2009, 05:24 PM
 
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If you sub for a school enough times, then I'm sure teachers will remember you enough to request you. However, I'm one of those subs who is at a different school every day. I've substituted for many schools. I haven't even counted them all. It's a lot. I have met so many children, from all backgrounds, and in all grade levels, excluding high school. And I did this on purpose. First, I wanted to determine which grade level would be the most compatible with my temperament, teaching style, and teaching performance. I discovered that it's second grade. Second, I wanted to determine which areas have the best schools, with the most supportive administrative staff and parents, and the most cooperative teachers. I have an idea of where those schools are located as well.

I think a new sub who is considering becoming a teacher should spend their first year subbing at various schools, rather than take a long-term assignment right away. The benefits of doing this are endless. And I must say that I really enjoy meeting new people and meeting all the children - children from all over the world. I just love meeting children. That's another reason why I want to learn different languages. I wish I could speak every language in the world. That way, I can speak to any child that I can encounter. That's my dream - to communicate with any child.
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Old 12-01-2009, 05:50 PM
 
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there have been some great responses to your post, Rowe. I am like the last poster I too sub in 3 different counties and in all levels (excluding HS)....I find that MS is a good fit for me ( I'm still a little leery of trying HS) I like talking to the students and having a decent conversation and knowing that when I mess up it's not the end of the world....and they don't have to hang on to my every word
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Can I relate!
Old 12-02-2009, 05:30 AM
 
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Oh my goodness, I could have written this post myself. I started reading through the thread but was so excited that I had to come back and put my thoughts down. I am feeling the exact same way.

I have also been subbing for eight years. As far as I know, I have had only positive feedback. Teachers always seem happy to have had me, (well, we all have a bad day once in a while but so do the regular teachers) and several teachers have me as their 'favorite.'

Our district recently went to an automated sub system as well. In the beginning, I worked a bit here and there. I do let some jobs go by, because they come up last minute or they're at schools I have not been to before and I'm not up for it that day. (we have a lot of schools in our district and before the automated system we were limited to just a few per sub)

But here is the thing: I get almost NO jobs before 7am the day of the job. It was NEVER like this before. I used to get a call from a live person, who would sometimes give me 5-6 jobs at a time. Sure, she'd sometimes call at 6am, but more often I would get called the night before. Now, I have to wake up, drag my achy weary self out of bed, and between feeding cats and dogs, making two lunches and driving my daughter to school, I have to stalk jobs on the computer. I have been called by the system a couple of times, but I prefer to accept the jobs online, where I can see what's out there. (usually nothing, and what does go up lasts about a minute)

I am so frustrated. I just feel like they have absolutely no appreciation. And yes, the kids make it fun, but one has to be in a school for it to be fun. I've been sending out resumes and putting out feelers, but my real background is in the business world and I'm not even hearing back from most places. It's been ten years since I had a job other than subbing!

I can't get a long-term assignment either, not being a certified teacher. If I could have another job tomorrow, I would. This is the worst it's ever been with this last-minute stuff. The other day I saw two jobs come up after the start times had passed. But if I get dressed and ready to accept whatever comes across, there will be nothing.

I'm hoping things will pick up as the holidays get closer, as they usually do. But the more time goes by without working, the more used to not working I get! I just long for a regular schedule that I can follow and plan around. This year's sub situation is just for the birds. Yet there are some subs at certain schools who work every day. I almost wonder if there are jobs being put out for calling without being listed online - because I have literally sat for hours with 'reloadevery' on the job for me, and not seen one job go by. Right now I have two jobs lined up - two half days and not until next week.

It's going to be a Charlie Brown Christmas around here!

Sorry if my thoughts at convoluted. I just had to agree with this post!
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Thanks for sharing!
Old 12-03-2009, 07:36 AM
 
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Thanks for sharing your substitute experience Viktoriag. I think we all know that substitute teaching is not a career. It's a job. It's a job for someone who doesn't need to work, but chooses to work at his or her convenience. What's unfortunate is that for a lot of people who are trying desparately to get by in this economy, a substitute teaching job might be the only job they have or it might be one their most important sources of income. So for these people, work as a substitute teacher is a career.

And during my time as a sub, sure, I've been on many schools' preferred lists. And honestly, it's not that difficult to get on a school's preferred list. In most cases, all one needs to do is consistently show up at the time the school needs you. And so, getting on someone's preferred list is not the issue so much as it is so many teachers requesting substitutes on the same day they need a sub, giving substitutes hardly any time at all to accept an assignment and prepare for the work day.

I don't know if this is an issue with school management, school planning, or something that must be worked out with the new automated system, but I think that it's going to be an issue for a growing number of subs. That is why I want to know if other subs are observing similar things happening in their districts and counties.

Last edited by Rowe; 12-03-2009 at 07:23 PM..
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Old 12-03-2009, 07:49 AM
 
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I have been having the same issues as Viktoriag...it is really weird!!! I have subbed off and on for several years (took a regular classroom for a couple of years in between) this year, for the first time I have days in a row without a call. I am glad to hear it is not just me (a person starts to get paranoid) I am seldom called by a living person, even the teachers I worked for regularly. In our area, the sub lists have gotten so large districts have closed lists to any additional applications. EVERY retired teacher I know is subbing (not much, but on the lists) They are all scared that things are going to get worse before they get better. I too am looking for something else, this is just not cutting it any more.
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Similar situation.
Old 12-03-2009, 01:42 PM
 
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Thanks Yoohoo for responding. I've been a substitute teacher for 8 years, and during this time, I've gone back to school for a Master's degree, which I'm still pursuing, and I've even made regular attempts to get more stable work. However, because I've spent so much time substitute teaching, that's what employers see first on my resume. In fact, I remember a regular teacher explaining to me how difficult it was for her to transition out of the education field having so much experience as a teacher. And so, she just decided to go back to school (Law School) and start from stratch. To me, that was a drastic (and costly) strategic move, but I suppose she did what she had to do to get away from forever being pigeonholed as a teacher.
_______________________________ _______________________________ ___

I am in a similar situation...I have been a sub teacher for 12 years...

I had a teaching license...But, it expired many years ago...I decided to work as a sub while I was applying to be a permanent teacher...After the license expired, I stopped applying. But, I stuck with the sub job...

I have made attempts to get more stable work, work not related to public education. But, so far no luck...

I understand the frustration...I wish I could just walk away from the sub work...But, unfortunately, I don't have a huge bank account...
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Old 12-03-2009, 07:36 PM
 
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Speaking of hanging on to your every word Yoohoo, I also enjoy talking with students, especially when they are the most receptive to learning, to respecting adults, and to trusting an adult's judgement. I've always been partial to young children, because from my experiences, young children are the most receptive to learning and to school in general. The worst thing is teaching a group of students who don't want to be at school.
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Once A Teacher, Always A Teacher
Old 12-03-2009, 07:51 PM
 
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Thanks Longtimesub for chiming in on this discussion. If you really want to leave the teaching field altogether, then perhaps you may have to make a drastic move like the teacher for whom I use to sub (the one who enrolled herself into law school). If I don't eventually get this one point that I need in order to finally get a teaching license, then I may need to do this as well. It doesn't make sense to keep spinning around on a wheel to nowhere.
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Old 12-03-2009, 08:13 PM
 
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Barclay, I just want to mention that being on a school's preferred list one year doesn't guarantee that a sub will be remembered next year. As I mentioned earlier in the discussion, I've been on many schools' preferred sub list. But every year is a clean slate. If a sub doesn't return to a school the following school year, because he or she has moved on to other schools, then no one is going to chase this person, because there are so many other subs who are also on the school's preferred list who are waiting to teach at the school. That's why I'm looking forward to the day when I can turn in my sub card.

I'll admit, substitute teaching was exciting in the beginnig - school hopping from one school to the next, meeting new people everyday, not having anyone to manage you or tell you what to do. You can come and go as you please. When the school day ends, you can leave when the kids leave while the teachers toll away in their classrooms. But that type of life doesn't support major expenses, like a mortgage, rent, a college loan, and other major expenses. It just doesn't. Eventually, you have to work hard like everyone else.
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Old 12-04-2009, 08:41 AM
 
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interesting thread. Thanks everyone for your honesty.


I am on my 6th year as a substitute. Sometimes I feel that I am a poor substitute for the regular teacher, like when I am badly teaching high school algebra! Other times I feel that I am pretty much doing the job of the classroom teacher and so am an okay substitute for the teacher.

I do like the job. What I don't like is the never knowing much where you will be in the future. I have a fear that the jobs won't be there...but so far they have been. Where I make my mistake is not hustling up something for summer and other school breaks.

I have a clear credential, am deemed "highly qualified" and I have CLAD. I didn't have to take the Praxis, I got a waiver. Don't remember how that even worked. I went to school with two small children at home, and a husband. It was a lot of stress. I worked part time jobs for most of my school time.

Most of the jobs I get I get from what I call fishing online. A few teachers call me personally. I doubt that I am on any preferred list. Last year I made 11K. Rowe I hope that you write back today. The job of a sub is a lonely one.
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Old 12-04-2009, 08:12 PM
 
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Thanks so much Happygal for weighing in on this discussion. You're an experienced sub. So your insight is really helpful in this discussion. I can definitely relate to what you said about substitute teaching. When substitute teachers are working well with students, it may feel as though they are doing the job a regular teacher. However, from my experiences as a student teacher, the responsibilities of a regular teacher exceed the responsibilities of a substitute by leaps and bounds.

Regular teachers are overwhelmed with responsibilities that a substitute teacher doesn't even need to think about. It may seem like a cliche or exaggeration, but a regular teacher's work is never done. When teachers are awake, they are planning and teaching. Even when they have spare time, they're constantly thinking about all the different ways that a lesson can be tweeked or customized to meet the varying ability levels of the students in their classrooms. In the summer, they plan ahead for the new school year. Seemingly, a regular teacher's job never ends. When I was interning as a student teacher, this is what I had to do, and I couldn't wait until I met my internship requirements so that I could sub again and get a break! It was crazy. I didn't know if I was coming or going.

My internship experiences were a complete shock of reality of what being a teacher is really about. It's not at all about just walking into a classroom, with lessons already prepared for you on a desk, leaving you with nothing else to do but follow what someone else has already spent time preparing. During my internship experiences, I discovered that teaching is not like that at all. As a regular teacher, you are reponsible for everything. And no stone can be left unturned. Every child in the room is counting on you to reach them where they are, and it's a monumental challenge. Some teachers are motivated by this challenge.

Happygal, I am curious about how you were able to avoid taking teacher certification exams. Are you enrolled in school? Most schools of education require preservice teachers to at least pass Praxis I in order to graduate. Did you submit GRE or SAT scores in place of Praxis I scores?

Last edited by Rowe; 12-04-2009 at 08:24 PM..
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Old 12-05-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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glad you are still on here.

To answer your question I believe it was a Liberal Studies Waiver, I have a Multi-Subject Credential... Got finished with my credential program in 2001.

I had a classroom of my own for one year. Was non re-elected, my Principal saying there were not enough students enrolled. I had all good evaluations so was perplexed to say the least. I am well aware of the workload. It is so heavy. Still, I want to have my own class again I think someday. Subbing is good in few ways, teaching is good in many more ways. Subbing and Teaching are dissimilar. I feel that I am not working at my full potential...

Good luck to you dear!
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:45 PM
 
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Thanks Happygal for responding!
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Old 12-21-2009, 01:29 PM
 
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I do sympathize with all of you on how hard subbing can be, though I have been working pretty much daily.
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