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Devil's advocate and something to think about
Old 11-02-2020, 10:13 AM
 
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I subbed for a few years while I was getting my Master's. I hadn't yet had a classroom of my own and it was a learning experience.

I read these posts talking about how you feel less than human and how you feel disposable and I truly understand how you feel. I can remember a few not so great experiences and one where kids went to the principal and I got sent home in the middle of the day because of one comment I made (I kid you not).

But, please remember that teachers aren't treated like royalty either. We are also disposable. I've been RIF'd 3 times and "honorably dismissed" once (don't even ask what that means ). We get thrown under the bus by parents, admin and fellow teachers on a regular basis. We're expected to work beyond contract house for NO extra pay, we have more things piled on our plates daily and we have aggressive, violent behaviors from kids.

If you don't like a class or a building, you can block it. That's a 2 way street (trust me, I took advantage of that).

So, there may be drawbacks to subbing, but there are also some real pluses. I'm sorry that some teachers, admin and paras treat you poorly. They shouldn't. We know how valuable you are, trust me. But believe me when I say those same people that treat you poorly also treat us teachers poorly as well. It's not just you.

I just wanted to throw some perspective out there, play devil's advocate and give you something to think about.


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Old 11-02-2020, 10:25 AM
 
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I taught full time for 20 years and have subbed for the past five years, and honestly I have been treated like I am invisible even by teachers who request me all of the time. The lunch room is a joke. It is like I don’t exist.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:58 AM
 
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I believe you. My friend is teaching Kinder on-line and is extremely stressed out. Jobs the office staff used to do are now thrown onto the teachers. She could work day and night and not complete all the work teaching on-line entails. Even if school were in person, every year she gets new curriculum and standards added to her load by administrators that don't ask the teachers' opinions. She loves teaching but the stress is outrageous and her principal is not supportive. Her principal is probably not supported by those above her, either. I respect your persistence in this under-supported profession.
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:03 AM
 
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I know teachers don’t get treated well as my parents were teachers and I have friends who teach. I appreciate the sentiments but there is something that is so demeaning and toxic about the substitute teacher culture. I have an MAT and constantly get treated like I’m a babysitter.

High schools here have their own preferred group of subs. It’s like hs popularity contests all over again. They get the constant jobs and are basically like bench players for certain departments. It can take hours of online refreshing just to get a job, and then get it dropped.

I am sick of no plans or having plans that are just thrown together. And the kids have become horrible since they can get away with anything. My best days were just hs kids who were simply too tired or checked out to give me grief.


I wish I was working, but I do not miss subbing at all. I come home exhausted and by the end of the week I’m fried.

I hate getting crapped on by kids, office admin, admin and other teachers. It’s just a horrible job. I hope I can get a full time job soon but I don’t see that happening with the cutbacks.
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:06 AM
 
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I got treated great as a teacher. Probably a lot depends on the area. Yes, I spent a LOT of time outside my "contracted hours" because I wanted to. I never thought twice about it and saw it as part of a very good job.

A lot of the difference, maybe, is that teachers have a union to back them up and support them (and admin knows it). The unions would never let teachers get treated the way most subs get treated.


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Old 11-02-2020, 11:28 AM
 
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I have a union. It helps with pay, but we didn’t get a raise this year. We have a strong union and it’s hard for teachers to get us removed from their classroom unless they have good cause. It doesn’t change the way we are perceived at all though, or treated.
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Old 11-02-2020, 01:56 PM
 
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I had really good experiences when I subbed, except at one school. I only went there once. My choice. Anyone who subbed in our building right now would likely think we are horrible people. However, we are all trying to keep heads above water, and social hour is the least of our concerns.
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Old 11-02-2020, 04:12 PM
 
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I am offended at the comment about "social hour," like that is our biggest concern. Were not stupid people just because we're subs.

Also, I don't know why there are so many teachers on here. You have hundreds of lists on this website that you can be on. We have one. It's getting tiring to be hearing so much "stuff" from people that are teachers, most of whom have probably never subbed a day in their life.

You may have subbed before, but you aren't now. Why are you even here if you're just going to be condescending to us and not bring any value?

If you guys don't have time for "social hour," as you imply is our worst complaint, why are you spending time on a sub list, anyway?

Most of us have been subs since before the virus, so let's stop using that as an excuse to continue to treat many subs like crap.

Last edited by bodhimom; 11-02-2020 at 04:15 PM.. Reason: Typo
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Old 11-02-2020, 05:06 PM
 
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I mentioned “social hour” because, well . . . many times “they aren’t friendly” and “nobody talks to us in the lounge” are common things mentioned. Those things are social. My job description, whether it be teacher or substitute teacher, does not include being friendly or chatting it up in the lounge.

As a former substitute and current teacher, I feel that I can give opinions from both sides. Yes. Some schools suck. Some teachers suck. Some substitutes suck. And sometimes venting is necessary for your sanity. However, a constant “us vs. them” attitude doesn’t serve anyone well, no matter what your vocation.

If you want to be offended every time someone disagrees with you, go ahead. That just seems like a miserable way to live, though.
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Old 11-02-2020, 06:05 PM
 
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I am offended when it is warranted. There are plenty of us on here who have been teachers. I always treated my subs well. I didn't use excuses to treat subs poorly.

I think you shouldn't make such large generalizations. Most of the complaints we have are very real and you poo-pooing our complaints doesn't help.

You are not a sub, now. You remind me of people in other professions in this country that refuse to do anything that they aren't specifically required to do. They go home as soon as they can, because their job requirements say they can. I wouldn't want my child to have a teacher that only does what is specifically required. Whoever wrote your job description probably considered treating people well was a given.

I really don't know why you want to be on here - I'm sure it isn't in your job description, but I guess there is nothing I can do about it.



Last edited by bodhimom; 11-02-2020 at 06:36 PM.. Reason: clarification
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Old 11-02-2020, 08:09 PM
 
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I have never treated a sub poorly. I treat people very well in general. I’ve often been paired with difficult or challenging people because I can work with anybody. Treating people well does not mean we have to be friends.

I make generalizations based on my experiences, as do you. I do not dismiss your feelings, but offer another viewpoint.

I have been coming here for a long time, and I will continue to do so, because I have experiences as both substitute and teacher.
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Old 11-03-2020, 06:48 AM
 
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I have a lot of thoughts about this. Sorry if it goes on too long.

All the things in Greyhound's post about the difficulties inherent in fulltime teaching are why I don't long term sub anymore and no longer want to teach full time. As a longterm sub you're basically dealing with all of those issues for pay that amounts to like 25k annually, no benefits, and no job security unless you're lucky enough to be like... an LA school district sub who's in a union or something.

Having said all that, I'm fairly certain most substitute teachers who browse these forums have had plenty of time to consider the pros and cons of their profession. We know that we can block bad schools and bad assignments. As freelance workers, blocking an entire building is a massive hit to our pay, but we do understand that the option is there. That flexibility is probably the only appealing thing about the job to most people after the first year when the novelty wears off.

I think a lot of the negativity in this particular thread stems from the natural response to having an outsider tell you what your job is like. I assume the same response would be seen if a parent who taught several years ago showed up in the Vent to "give you something to think about" and listed some pro of your job that amounted to something banal like "you get to see kids learn" or something. Obviously you've considered that positive element already since you're eyeballs deep in the career at this point, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to your actual issues with the profession.

I can't speak for others, but my main issues with the job, and the reason I haven't truly returned to it in the covid era, have nothing to do with classroom management or feeling ignored by staff members. I don't enjoy small talk and office chitchat and actually picked this job because it let me isolate a bit more from office politics. For me, it's two major factors:

The first is insane instability. Most of us were rendered unemployed and have been since March, with no word on what to expect, and jobs being scarce since August or so unclear that people with no job security don't bother risking it. When The Vent was complaining about parent expectations being through the roof in an era of online learning in April, the substitute teacher subforum became a resource on how to collect unemployment and avoid homelessness. If the virus ramps up again (has it even ramped down?) this could very easily happen again, which is why so many subs are just done with the profession. Even before covid, in the best of times, teachers regularly canceled jobs on us as we were heading into the parking lot that morning. And God knows we've all had that experience of a longterm assignment being cut short just a day before the longterm pay would have kicked in, because the teacher decided out of nowhere to just come back 2 days early. So there's always this sense that the work you're counting on, the money you're hoping will be there for bills, can just dry up and vanish at any moment. I've lost thousands of dollars because of stuff like this, and nobody ever seems to empathize at all. The general sentiment from people I work with every day is just "well, you're a freelancer," and to that I say "good luck finding subs this year" because I'm not picking up the phone. That's just blatant disrespect, and it goes beyond some superficial level of feeling ignored in a staff lounge.

The second main issue for me is the insultingly low pay for the job requirements. Despite my state requiring a 4 year college degree and a certificate, I made 18k annual one year, despite working constantly; and in a year where I had multiple back to back long term assignments, that number jumped to 23k. I'm also barred from collecting unemployment over the summer despite other seasonal professions being allowed to do just that. For comparison's sake, fulltime teachers in my district make ~60k starting and a teacher with several years under their belt makes up to 102k and can't be fired unless they assault a student. This information is publicly available because I live in California and they just put it all online for some reason. It also compounds the issue of instability that I mentioned previously, because when I'm over here making literal scraps, a fulltime teacher's decision to come back 2 days early means I'm losing a massive percentage of my yearly earnings just so some guy who makes 5x my salary can come back on Thursday instead of Monday like he's a national hero for coming back early or something. And when I justifiably voice my issue with being cheated out of roughly 1,000 dollars, I'm hit with "well, that's the nature of freelance work" from people who make 3-5 times more than I'll make in a year but couldn't be bothered to even draft a basic 4 week outline for their students while they were absent. You bet I block those people. But it's a hit to my wallet regardless. I was collecting unemployment after my district dropped every job on my calendar with no explanation, and holy crap, coupled with the CARES act, I made more money just sitting around doing nothing than I ever made in four years of substitute teaching. I came out of summer break with money saved for the first time ever. I literally made more money just sitting on my ass. Hell, our district's night janitors have more stability and make more annually than our subs do. That's not a slam against janitors, but I'm just saying; pretty much any job you can think of pays more, including just collecting unemployment.


So those are my issues. I taught mainly burnt out high school kids, and sometimes their attitudes did stress me out, but I went into the job expecting to deal with burnt out kids. I didn't care that teachers didn't know who I was; in fact, I welcomed that. I like being invisible. Get in, get out. That's all I want to do. In the end it was the level of instability and lack of accountability or respect from fulltime teachers in regards to leaving lousy plans, canceling at the last second, doing me dirty on longterm assignments, etc. coupled with an annual salary that could be matched by a retail job requiring a high school degree, that made me finally throw my hands up and say "I'm done." Those issues, I believe, run deeper than being able to simply block a school.



Now on the topic of gatekeeping in this forum: This board is one of the few places online besides the subbing reddit where people in our profession get to actually talk to each other and commiserate and vent. We barely meet other substitute teachers in the field and when we do, they usually don't want to be bothered or they see us as a competitive obstacle for getting more work in the future. It's not like fulltime teaching in that regard, where you see the same people every day and develop rapport with a department and get to occasionally vent about problematic kids in the staff lounge surrounded by other people who also deal with that kid and understand. Substitute teaching is an inherently lonely profession, barring some exceptions (building subs who work in the same place all year, for example), so forums like these are a rare oasis. I'm not saying "don't come here if you don't substitute teach," I'd never say that. I'm just saying please understand that this zone is literally all we have. When I posted in The Vent after losing all of my jobs in March, I was met with some very supportive posts but was also met with several fulltime teachers who of course decided to come in and play "devil's advocate" and lecture me while they still had jobs and it made me so upset that I didn't even go back and respond for a long time. Like, you know how venting about fulltime teaching on Facebook will get you hit with uppity parents who think they know what it's like? That's what posting as a substitute teacher feels like on a teaching forum 99.9% of the time, until you finally find a forum just for substitute teachers and it's like "holy crap, finally. A place where people understand." So please. We know we can block schools. We know there are some teachers who are very professional and appreciate substitute teachers. I wish we could hang that on a sign at the door when people come in, because we can't complain for even a minute without someone telling us these things as if we'd never stopped and thought about it. I appreciate those professional teachers, I appreciate the sentiment, and I appreciate what you're trying to do. But most of us understand that already and feel it goes without saying. Most of us have had years to consider the pros and cons of our job just like you have had years to consider the pros and cons of your profession. Since The Vent often takes our rants and plays devil's advocate with them (especially if at its core, the rant is about a teacher we're covering being lousy), this forum is a much nicer place for people to rant about their day or about current struggles without feeling judged and hearing the same "well ackshually you have fLeXibiLitY" critiques that we hear everywhere else. Please just let us have that in peace.

Last edited by Aillya; 11-03-2020 at 07:16 AM.. Reason: formatting, diction
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Old 11-03-2020, 09:30 AM
 
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This used to be a forum where subs and teachers exchanged a lot of good ideas about what would make the jobs easier for each one. I often talked about my sub binder because I always get compliments on it. I combined things I need as a teacher with things I always needed (and sometimes didn’t have) as a substitute. At some point it switched to an us vs. them forum. I’m sad to say that some of the former regular posters no longer post here, which is unfortunate because they had a lot of good insight to share.

Personally I find it useful to hear other viewpoints and compare them to my own. It’s a great way to grow and expand ideas. Being a lifelong learner has always served me well.

Venting has its place, but when negativity abounds, nobody ever manages to move forward. Plus, that negativity projects into everyday life. I have worked with some miserable people over the years, and it was always apparent even when they did not open their mouths. As I mentioned earlier, that must be a miserable way to live.
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Old 11-03-2020, 10:23 AM
 
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Quote:
I think a lot of the negativity in this particular thread stems from the natural response to having an outsider tell you what your job is like.
This comment really dug at me. Subs need teachers. Teachers need subs. We work the same job. How can we be outsiders?

I don't know why this thread went so contentiously. I thought the OP's intention was not to disrespect subs or a subs place on PT, but just a reminder that we (all of us) very often forget-the flip side of the coin. Sometimes we get bogged down in the negatives of life and it is helpful to remember the other side. It doesn't negate that there are negatives.

Quote:
Also, I don't know why there are so many teachers on here.
Ummm, teacher blog? Really there is no reason why "teachers" can't post on here anymore that there are no reasons why subs can't read and post on the other boards. I have very often seen subs post on the other boards and I don't see why they can't. I personally have gotten a lot from reading the sub board even when very often the things that disturb many subs, I have no control over. In the past I have been reminded that seating charts are important, and gives me insight (and reminders) into what is helpful and hurtful in plans and the way our subs are treated. MANY regular teachers spent a bit of time subbing and do understand the ins and outs. Our input is important just as yours.

It isn't them vs. us. We work this job together.
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Old 11-03-2020, 08:07 PM
 
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As a sub, full time teachers only really frustrate me when they:

A. Leave the desk a mess.

B. Don't leave any plans at all. (Biggest pet peeve since we get in trouble or banned for not following plans...)

C. Cancel the job at the very last minute.

I actually get along with most teachers fine because I keep to myself and don't really complain on the job unless we're both venting about a mutual topic.

I'm definitely not a perfect sub (who is?) but I try my hardest to do the job accurately and fairly.

We should all agree we're there for the kids before anything.

Being civil to each other is important too, but focusing on how we can get Student X to stop with frequent negative self talk is far more important.

Obviously, trying to get the kids to keep their masks on their faces (fully over their nose) and staying off their phones is a completely different struggle altogether.

Last edited by subasaurus; 11-04-2020 at 07:19 AM..
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Old 11-03-2020, 08:26 PM
 
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That was quite the post. I enjoyed reading and agree with a lot.

Can especially relate to the laid off in March and left in the dark as a sub stuff.

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Old 11-03-2020, 11:34 PM
 
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to teachers -

i understand that teaching has its own challenges. you could not pay me enough. i am not unaware that subbing has its positives - there are reasons this job has suited me better than most i have done.

i don't think any of the subs here think we have, generally speaking, an us-vs-them issue between subs and teachers. they are NOT the same job, btw (thought i should address that comment as well).

that said, it's always nice to have a safe place to share what's on your mind, with folks you know UNDERSTAND where you are coming from, who are CURRENTLY sharing your experience.

if you come into a place where people had felt free to speak openly about frustrations and fears, and tell them, "oh, it's not so bad, maybe you just shouldn't be so negative!" that can certainly sound patronizing and invalidating.

difficult as teaching is, one of the perks appears to be the recognition of the public and government agencies; another is extensive community. as another poster said, we have this subforum and a subreddit. that's it.

please keep in mind we have unique concerns and frustrations. you can read the threads if you missed them. i will summarize a few - we made a fraction of your income in the best of times, and these times are not the best. many of us lack healthcare. many of us have struggled to access social safety nets. many of us are at higher risk of illness due to covid than a majority of employees in the school system. everyone in education is dealing with uncertainty right now - many subs are unquely tolerant to it, but the current level of uncertainty now means "can i pay my rent this month," rather than "what sudden schedule change can i expect tomorrow."

teachers, please do not trivialize anything you see here if you choose to participate!
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Old 11-04-2020, 09:33 AM
 
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You've covered everything i was thinking quite well. I came to subbing after 20+ years of doing corporate training and writing policy/procedure manuals. I can honestly say I have never experienced as unwelcoming a work environment as subbing. I tend to be one who just eats in my room during lunch due to the stopped conversations/stares when i walked into a teachers lounge. NO, i don't expect to be your friend either, just basic courtesy is all I ask. I really don't care to be part of your little clique. I greet those I run into, only to be responded to with a "who the the @#ll are you stare." Yet, you expect me cover your class just like Mary Poppins and make everything perfect, despite incomplete/no plans, a mess to wade through to find materials, a six page exam that had to be given first thing in the morning that was left uncolated and unstapled. After 13 years I could go on and on.

At this point I have only 2 schools that treat me with professional respect, though I have lately been receiving personal calls from school office managers and schools I have never covered. These are the only 2 schools i will ever go back to once we resume in person in January. I've done Zoom small groups for a month very successfully, but have no desired to put myself at the mercy of administration, parents, and teachers to do any virtual subbing.
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Old 11-04-2020, 01:29 PM
 
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I was going to respond, again, but it looks like the other subs have covered it (and did a great job, I must say!)

One thing that I noticed. For some reason, when I was a teacher, someone posted all of the teachers at my school and their "pay." I knew I didn't make anywhere near what they said I did, and then realized that, for some reason, they add in the dollars for our insurance, etc., as "pay." I think I made about $35,000, and it said I made $60,000, or something like that. Just an FYI

Last edited by bodhimom; 11-04-2020 at 01:49 PM.. Reason: added info about pay
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Old 11-06-2020, 07:32 AM
 
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I have decided to leave this list, at least temporarily. I have been on here for years, but it seems that it has changed from a "sub list" to "a teacher list that talks about subs."

It is more irritating than it is worth, at least at this point.

I want to thank you all tremendously. This is where I learned all I know () about unemployment. If not for this list, I would never have applied as I didn't think I made enough to qualify.

I may come back sooner than expected if my new hybrid classes, next week, go down the toilet bowl. God, I hope not. I'm too old for that . I doubt if it will be that bad, though.

I would like to add that the description for this list says, "Share ideas and support with other SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS." (emphasis mine). Check it out on the main board page, on top.

Last edited by bodhimom; 11-06-2020 at 11:20 AM..
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You will be missed Bodhimom!
Old 11-06-2020, 12:41 PM
 
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Bodhimom...I will miss your replies to these postings. Whenever there would be a post from someone that I felt was not right - you’d be right on it with your reply setting them straight and I’d think “You tell ‘em Bodhimom!”. I wish you well and hope you come back soon.
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Old 11-10-2020, 09:47 AM
 
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I am happy to say that I have rarely if ever felt marginalized in my 23 years of subbing.

My main peeves are that we earn about 25% of what teachers earn, when lack of medical insurance is considered. I think we should get 50% of what contracted teachers get.

Lack of a union is my other main peeve. If a teacher does not like the job we did and they complain, we are banned from that school for life. In many cases, it is just as likely to be the teacher at fault, but this does not matter. We are always wrong.
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Old 11-10-2020, 11:05 PM
 
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Agreed.

The pay disparity in the education field is absurd. We're expected to do the same job as a lead teacher for $100 a day (before taxes are deducted.)

But what gets me most is the "instant ban" with no trial.

We're guilty until proven innocent as subs when unions aren't allowed.

Some schools act like drill sergeants. One mistake and you're out. It's a bit of a draconian system when you think about it.
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I was banned ...
Old 11-11-2020, 10:15 AM
 
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For daring to interview for a posted position in my field.

Eventually they called again when principal left.
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Old 11-11-2020, 02:12 PM
 
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It really is unfortunate that subs are banned without being informed of any questionable occurrences that happened while the sub was teaching. I would hope that subs are treated more with care during these times when districts are desperate for subs. You are so essential to education!
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