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Subbing, the Nature of the Job Itself
Old 04-01-2018, 10:05 AM
 
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Subbing is a very uniquely irritating job. I like it because I can still teach part time and I get to interact with others in a classroom setting. I still have a good degree of independence in the job. I can work when I want. But, it's one of these jobs that is so unpredictable. I try my best to have a good day, but there seems to be something that goes wrong, often. Unruly classes, unprovided passwords and usernames, incomplete or confusing or no lessons, last minute job reassignments by the school, equipment that does not work, me accidentally missing an activity or duty on the lesson plan, last minute changes during the day, students trying to steal things, wrong schedules. I did this job years ago, but it seems to get more difficult as the years go by. I have noticed that teachers used to write my name down for the morning greeting on their lesson plans about twenty years ago.When they have some time in advance, they know my name. haven't seen this once. The strategy with subbing is to simply roll with it, and if you have a great day, it's a plus. Maybe I should stop thinking about having a good day.


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it's a good day when
Old 04-01-2018, 10:36 AM
 
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I know that my day went well when I can manage to remember at least five people in the room every period. It's a good day when I see students keeping on task and are talking about their work with each other. I call it organized chaos. I know I am not going crazy when I can keep track of where things are especially when I set things down when I try to help a student. In general, I know it's a good day for me when I didn't have to raise my voice to provide instructions.
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The Nature of the Job or the Person
Old 04-01-2018, 01:20 PM
 
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It is the nature of the job or of the person doing the job? Obviously, it's both. The question is what are one's personal thresholds? What am I willing to put up with?

I agree that substitute teaching requires a great deal of being Semper Gumby--always flexible. However, what are the kinds of things I am not willing to put up with? What lines have I drawn as boundaries that I will not negotiate? In my limited experience as a substitute educator, there are two things I have to do: 1) Teach and 2) manage the class (safety, socially acceptable behavior). The more time I spend doing management, the less time I spend teaching. I actually tell certain classes that. I tell them teaching makes me happy and that, even though classroom management makes me unhappy, I do it. The number one thing that I do not negotiate is respect. If a student cannot find it within him- or herself to respect me, then the student will not remain in the classroom. If the school cannot or will not support the ejection of the student by enforcing correct behavior, then I will not remain at the school. Period. Nobody can pay me enough to be disrespected.

What is the number one item where you draw your lines? Where is the line beyond which, so to speak, you will not put up with coloring?

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How I Deal
Old 04-01-2018, 02:51 PM
 
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I do my best with every job, and then I move on after going over my day with my family and any self-reflections. This strategy keeps me in a great state of mind with the nature of this job. A good day for me is getting through majority of the lessons' objectives and the students were safe. I don't hold on to the good or the disliked days with this job. Many things are not under our control that affects our day and forming any attachments with a temporary job was not best for me. I learned not to compare because the circumstances and the groups of kids are different with most jobs. A lot of times day-to-day subbing is like the first day of school, so things won't be perfect many of times (have realistic standards). We are not paid overtime to take this job home with us, so I rest on I did my best.
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Old 04-01-2018, 04:43 PM
 
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Agree. I only do it a dozen times a year now, and I'm less hard on myself because it's not my main job any more and I no longer want to be a full-time teacher. As long as I helped a student, taught a class something new, and the classes stayed in line - ie not too loud/silly/out of control, I consider that a good day. And if it was a bad day, I don't lose sleep over it like I used to..


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It might be what you make it...
Old 04-02-2018, 01:20 AM
 
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Quote:
It is the nature of the job or of the person doing the job? Obviously, it's both.
Couldn't agree more... I do think subbing is getting more challenging--so has teaching, so it naturally follows. We have some challenges regular teachers do not but regular teachers have some challenges we do not.

One of my favorite teachers is retiring... we've talked about subbing and she has come to realize that it's probably not for her. She's a very disciplined and structured teacher. Subbing would drive her nuts simply because that control/structure isn't always in place. Her nature and the nature of subbing just aren't a good match.

For me, it's about defining what constitutes a "good" day and then focusing on that. I recently had a particularly "hard" day. (I avoid the word "bad" in describing the day.) But I remember some kids who had some real insights into the topics I taught... one who stayed after class to talk with me about losing several people close to her and how she was coping with that... discovering a student who is having some personal difficulties and making a confidential referral to the guidance counselor...

I see teaching as an investment, so the question becomes how much am I willing to invest (some would say "willing to put up with") and what return am I getting. For me personally, the answer lies in whether or not I am making a difference in student's lives and learning.
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Honestly, it is just
Old 04-02-2018, 10:28 AM
 
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a job. A means to an end for me. I get to make some extra money to help out with college tuitions and flexible time to help out my elderly in-laws.

I'm not interested in making a connection or forming bonds. I've been at this for 10 years and didn't always feel this way, but do now. After poor treatment from schools/teachers I have bent over backwards for, I follow the plan and make sure the students are engaged and safe nothing more, nothing less. I have my family and friends and my volunteer work for meaningful connections.

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Nature of the Job
Old 04-02-2018, 03:57 PM
 
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I agree with much of what you say.
I think the person who has the Retired Teacher Friend would best guide her to do long-term jobs.
To me Long-terms are the closest thing to being a Teacher...I have done quite a few.....I did all the Conferences....PLC'S.......Staf f Meetings....You name it.

On the day to day jobs, these can be the most stressful if you move between buildings and grade levels.
For me I prefer middle schools...and I work hard on my attitude before the day.
It has made me a bit more Philosophical.

"Act well the given part" Epictetus
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On the Nature of the Job
Old 04-02-2018, 04:05 PM
 
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"So I rest on I did my best " this should be Gospel for Subbing
I find that covering the extra class at the middle school can be very draining.
I would say 4 out of every 5 days I cover on the planning period.
90% of the time the coverage class, is by far worse behaved than my class.
I just roll with it, and am almost ecstatic to get back to my main classes.
Proving once again that "blessings come in many forms"
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@Tapdancesub
Old 04-02-2018, 05:51 PM
 
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I have mixed feelings about your post. On one hand, you've found a way to cope and, from the vibe I get, to just survive from one assignment to the next, pay check to pay check. I get it. I'm not independently wealthy (or wealthy period) so I substitute teaching is undeniably a job. Clearly, there are other ways to the end you pursue and you would be there if something in subbing didn't appeal to you. So I guess I'm glad for you on that account. You have meaningful relationships outside your job to make up for the lack of it within the job. Again, I'm glad for you. But for the very same reasons I'm glad for you, I'm sad for you. It's sad to see a human being with God-given talents and zest for life simply give up on the joyfulness in work. Though there are days when I am tempted to take your road, I take a deep breath and (like you) look at what I have that's good and include in that the kids and adults that do appreciate what I do. Last thing: When I am in a situation where there are kids who are misbehaving, I take time to remember the kids that are behaving appropriately and politely; and I thank them: "I know that I'm giving a lot of attention to the kids who misbehave, but I want to thank all of you who are doing what you're supposed to be doing without me having to tell you. I appreciate that you are being good kids and it means a lot to me." I know it means something to them, too.


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The Nature of the Job Itself
Old 04-03-2018, 03:03 PM
 
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I look at subbing as shadowboxing or training..
If you want to be a full-time Teacher you have to be able to handle irritations.
Long-term subbing is like a dress rehearsal..
Can you handle a difficult group?
Can you handle your team of Teachers ?
Can you implement the district and state curriculum?
Can you think on your feet?
Are you willing to learn from your para's and other Teachers
Can you professionally bond with your class?
Can you go in when you absolutely had a prior day from he__ ___ ?
Can you maintain an upbeat outlook when everything is going to heck ?
Long-term subbing is like training camp ?
I know it is not the real thing, but the simulated pressure is the next best thing?
I came from a grinding 28 year Military Background, so my outlook may be a little different
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Subbing as training
Old 04-03-2018, 05:01 PM
 
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Long-term subbing is like a dress rehearsal.
I can see how this could be true of long-term subbing. But, speaking as a teacher who came to subbing after 3 decades experience in the classroom, I'd say that regular subbing is like trying to teach with both hands tied behind your back.

As a teacher, it didn't take me long to learn that classroom management was much easier when you established routines and when you were able to keep the students engaged. As a sub, sometimes I'm fortunate enough to sub for a teacher who shares the classroom routines and who tries to leave plans that will be engaging. Other times I get no information about classroom routines and if I have lesson plans at all, they may be busywork. The kids know it and I know it. Some teachers have classroom management systems that are so cumbersome and involved I wonder how they have time to teach.

I've been teaching long enough that I would be able to "wing it" in a lot of classes and come up with something engaging that would, at least, reinforce concepts that have already been taught. But that's not possible if I don't have access to a computer, the internet, a copy machine and if I don't even know until I get there what I'll be doing that day.

And, I can't even blame teachers and districts for not treating substitute teachers like teachers because, in point of fact, lots of substitutes are NOT teachers.

It IS irritating, and that's just an unavoidable fact. The only way I am able to deal with it is to simply leave it behind when I leave the job. Rough day? Water under the bridge.
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Long Terms and Middle School
Old 04-04-2018, 12:58 AM
 
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You certainly gained my respect! I taught middle school for 22 years. After 32 years I retired and started subbing.
My state doesn't allow retired teachers to take long term jobs.
My favorite subbing jobs are with the Special Needs classes.
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Old 04-05-2018, 06:50 AM
 
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And, I can't even blame teachers and districts for not treating substitute teachers like teachers because, in point of fact, lots of substitutes are NOT teachers.
I understand your point, but I have to take exception to it. Labeling or typecasting someone just because of their job title isn't smart or fair. (Teachers, of all people, should recognize that!)

The background and experience level of substitute teachers cover a broad range... from college students to stay at home moms/dads to retired K-12 teachers to well educated professionals effecting career change. The question is, how do we define "teacher"? Does one have to have a special credential to be considered a teacher? ( In my case, I am semi retired, have a graduate degree, ample training as an educator, and many years of professional teaching experience in a non-k-12 capacity.) Isn't the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover"?

I've worked many years in many different capacities, and the one common denominator I've found is that many people easily become entrenched in petty pecking orders. I would hope that K-12 educators, who are charged with teaching our new generations, would be capable of rising above that level of thinking. Each substitute teacher deserves to be judged based on his or her own merit, don't you think?

Thanks for listening.

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 04-05-2018 at 07:59 AM..
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:36 AM
 
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Yes, I echo luv's sentiments here. Most subs I know have a MAT, and I have one. I basically treat everyone I meet like that, because in one district I teach at you have to be licensed and most have MATs. I was eating lunch and talking to a sub and she was a part time piano teacher with no formal teacher training. I can see why some people don't treat subs as teachers, but they should. I had a kid ask me today if i was trying to be a real teacher, and I said I was one. I don't have to take #### from my peers as well as the kids.
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The Nature of the Job
Old 04-05-2018, 09:56 AM
 
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You make great points.
If it is a vacancy or long-term assignment, you literally are their Teacher.
They eat and breath with you on a day to day basis.
You are literally embedded with your students, and they watch you very closely.
You may not be their Teacher in a traditional sense, but believe me they rely upon you
All people deserve to be treated with dignity.
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Old 04-05-2018, 02:00 PM
 
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All jobs can be irritating at times. All jobs have their unique stressful elements. I don't think subbing is one of the more or one of the least stressful jobs.

What separates subbing from other jobs is that the stressful elements do not correspond with the pay rate, or the benefits. Our wages should, in my opinion, approximately 50% of a contracted teacher's salary, but on average, they are closer to 25-30% of a contracted teachers salary.

Another unique element is that when any conflict or disagreement does arise, we will nearly always be deemed in the wrong since we have no contract or union; we can therefore be reprimanded, wronged,or banned without strong representation on our behalf.

Over 90% of my days vary from great to average, but for my first 17 years of subbing, I did not worry when things did not go well. Whether the reason was difficult students or a poor plan, I did not worry about it because it is all part of the job

This changed four years ago when I first learned I was blocked from a school. Since then, I have become more concerned when a day does not go as planned, because it means I can be banned from the school, or even the district, if the problem is deemed my fault.

From my perspective, I have been blocked from schools where I had only great experiences. So when an experience is not so great, I do become apprehensive.

For my first 17 years I had no worries, I just "rolled with it", but the roll is now more lumpy, even though I have mostly good days.
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:22 PM
 
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Quote:
I don't have to take #### from my peers as well as the kids.
Hear! Hear!

The sad thing is that, as someone else mentioned, teachers, of all people, should really know better. Credentialed professional teachers are often thought of as overpaid babysitters. I think regular, contract teachers should include in their collective bargaining talks the requirement for paying substitute educators the same as they get paid. Why? Because when you bring down the sub, the whole fleet goes down with it. What is it Someone once said, "Do to others"? Conversely, when you bring up the sub, everybody floats better. (All puns intended).
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Agree with Luv
Old 04-06-2018, 07:17 AM
 
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Quote:
The background and experience level of substitute teachers cover a broad range... from college students to stay at home moms/dads to retired K-12 teachers to well educated professionals effecting career change. The question is, how do we define "teacher"? Does one have to have a special credential to be considered a teacher? ( In my case, I am semi retired, have a graduate degree, ample training as an educator, and many years of professional teaching experience in a non-k-12 capacity.) Isn't the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover"?

I've worked many years in many different capacities, and the one common denominator I've found is that many people easily become entrenched in petty pecking orders. I would hope that K-12 educators, who are charged with teaching our new generations, would be capable of rising above that level of thinking. Each substitute teacher deserves to be judged based on his or her own merit, don't you think?
I am a career changer (information technology), and older than most. I am also a credentialed teacher with six standard certifications and a heavy technology background from my former career. I am a LTS now, and I did not take the regular sub rate, instead, i negotiated for "teacher pay". Of course, i get no pension, paid days off, benefits, or credit towards my student loan. However, I am treated terribly and as you pointed out there is a pecking order and I am on the bottom.

I think that K-12 educators (most) are petty and stuck in their own bubble. I work with mostly younger women who are more worried about the P (a male who is around 40-ish and has clear favorites (young teachers) with whom he texts personally). In many cases, they do not even say hi to me and look right through me.

I struggle with this everyday and have learned to keep my mouth shut. I hear everything but do not comment. I don't tout my tech skills, and when asked, I tell them that I am there to teach, not to be tech support.

YES they judge all "subs" the same and they are dead wrong. Most if not all of them would not last a day in corporate America, because they are weak and petty. They do not exhibit social graces, nor are they professional. The P is the most unprofessional person I have seen and they all follow him.

Thank you for helping me by stating all of that Luv.
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:49 AM
 
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I go into each assignment with a positive attitude, and give 100% everyday. Most of my jobs are requests and I have done long term assignments also. The difference between when I started 10 years ago and now is that I don't waste emotional energy on a job where I am viewed as not much more than a placeholder for the day. If I didn't enjoy working with the students I wouldn't be doing this.
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Ditto!
Old 04-07-2018, 01:49 AM
 
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If I didn't enjoy working with the students I wouldn't be doing this.
From my view, one of the biggest benefits/joys of being a sub is that we can concentrate on the kids. We don't have to get embroiled in the politics, who sits with who in the teachers' lounge, whether or not the latest rumor about Mr. New Teacher is true...

I will say that leadership (admin) can have a huge impact on the school culture and environment. In one district I am familiar with, discipline is diminishing and there's increasing chaos. The "norm" is changing. Yes, it makes the job of subbing more difficult, but as a sub the very thing we complain about (not being accepted) may actually be an advantage.
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unpredictable is the norm
Old 04-07-2018, 06:56 AM
 
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But, it's one of these jobs that is so unpredictable. I try my best to have a good day, but there seems to be something that goes wrong, often.
Yes...and I'd say that's the #1 problem with the job. I liken it to walking through a mine field day by day. It's not a matter of "if"; it's a matter of "when" something will blow up.

It's much less so for those of you who always work at the same school(s) for the same teacher(s) and know the staff and kids. But for those of us who are "floaters" taking jobs at various schools across large districts, there can be many unknowns, and it can be downright scary.

I try to minimize the unknowns by subbing for only K-4th, and weeding out schools that I don't care to return to. But bottom line is that even with all that, there are still many unpredictables (problem kids, difficult IAs or student teachers, micromanaging principals, overbearing parents, accidents, no lesson plans, equipment doesn't work, switched assignments, etc., etc. ) I can't think too much about it or I'll lose my nerve. I have to take each day as it comes. If and when I decide the problems outweigh the benefits, it will be time to quit.

Quote:
I will say that leadership (admin) can have a huge impact on the school culture and environment.
Yes...I totally agree. As they say "s*** rolls down hill." I've found that the principal is a HUGE factor influencing the school culture. The schools where the principal is fair, even handed, and clearly wants to help and serve, the atmosphere is calm and upbeat. But at schools that have absentee/unsupportive principals or principals who are overbearing egomaniacs, the atmosphere is tense, mean spirited, and negative. I can say without exception that the schools that have engaged, fair, supportive, upbeat principals are those I choose to return to because I (and everyone else) feel appreciated and supported.
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Old 04-07-2018, 01:17 PM
 
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I just got my check in the mail , yet the one day that pays $192 is missing from my check.

I just e mailed our payroll contact about it.

Why is this one prime day missing?

It is likely I will get paid for it soon now that I brought it to payroll's attention, but if a problem does arise, it is much more difficult for subs to remedy the issue than it would be for practically any other employee in any other job.

What if I do not get paid for quite some time due to red tape? Would administration actually care? What motive does administration have to act quickly on my behalf, since I have no union or contract?

These issues are more frustrating than dealing with disrespectful students or poor lesson plans.
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Weeding Classes or Schools Out
Old 04-07-2018, 09:07 PM
 
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@luvtoteach2017
Yep, I do the same thing about being selective. So, I subbed before I taught full time, and I learned what my preferences were. Since I am subbing after I left my regular teaching job, I spread myself out thin. I try to be as picky as possible to minimize problems. But they are at times unavoidable. And that's a good analogy by the way, walking through a mine field. You don't know when you will step on one, and then boom!! I think the mindset is to understand and anticipate that there is a good chance one will have a problem on any given sub day. I have faced so many problematic situations in education, and I understand they are inevitable. I can't change the inevitable. I am facing new challenges outside of education, and I am considering them more important in my life.
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Old 04-08-2018, 03:45 AM
 
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I am a teacher with a Masterís Degree who taught in my district for 34 years. I retired because I was having health problems, but I really missed the kids and teaching.

Middle School is he easiest for me because the day seems shorter when you change classes. I taught elementary.

It is an easy job for me because I sub at my school. I very rarely have any problems at all because Class management was one of my ďtalentsĒ, and also Iíve taught their parents or brothers and sisters.

The little line that I donít like to be crossed is that I want students to behave in a respectful way and I need a quiet classroom. They are used to my ways and know Iím friends with their teachers.

I havenít sent anyone to the office in months, but last week I sent a student to the office because she tried to argue back when I asked her to move to another seat. She huffed and puffed then got up and walked on the chars to where I asked her to sit. Iím pretty old school in my behavior standards, but mor modern in teaching methods.

I didnít say a word to her as she kept making remarks...my teacher lets me chew gum, my teacher doesnít care if I have my feet on a chair, my teacher lets me leave the room, my teacher.....

I wrote a note to the office and listed all the things she said herteacher allowed. I sent the note to the office. Then I resumed teaching. After awhile, the office called: please send Little Missy to the office. She got up and without a word left the room. The class had been utterly quiet during this. One of the classmembers said she acts worse with our teacher than she does you. I really like her. She is fun outside of class but very dramatic in class.

I love the state trooper analogy because that is how I deal with a student, but never had heard that term. I will be sharing that with my teacher friends!

Most of the subs who are not teachers make the mistake of trying to be their friends. One of the teachers told me that she had a sub last week who didnít follow the lesson plans and allowed them to use cell phones in class, didnít have them pick up after every hour, and allowed them to eat all her treats.

Because they know me as a teacher, I get to teach and I grade papers.

I wish everyone could have as easy of a time as I do.

But there are drawbacks to everything.

I live in OK and despite having my degrees and being certified, I get paid $65 a day. You may have heard that we are having a walkout to get our schools fully funded. Substitutes werenít on the list. We will be back at the capitol on Monday trying to get the state to make a move. Except for the legislators, we have had excellent public support.
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regarding cell phones in class
Old 04-08-2018, 06:09 PM
 
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I don't think it's fair that subs are supposed to be phone police. If schools allow them in the first place, good luck telling the kids to hand them in to you as a sub. You will be met with fierce protest.
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