I have been working as a school-based substitute teacher at Discovery Elementary since October. My position is slightly unique, because while I am a substitute teacher, instead of getting a 6:00AM wake-up call, my assignment every day is to arrive at the same school and fill in the gaps. Sometimes subs don’t show up, teachers call in sick at the last minute, or need to go home early. Other days someone needs to be on coverage for teacher’s who must attend hour-long SPED/IEP/504/whatever other acronym meetings. Some days everything is covered and I spend the day in the library or monitoring recess.
As frustrating as that may sound to some, I love this job. Those who have subbed before know how enormous of a difference it makes when kids recognize you, and especially when you already know their names. Learning the ropes, knowing how to navigate the building, being clued into which attention-grabbers each class uses, figuring out how to make the SMART board work or what kids are allowed to use their iPads for are all things I don’t have to worry about, because after so many months I feel like I know it all.
And in many ways, I do know more about what is going on in the entire school than many teachers who work here!
I have subbed for teachers, teacher assistants, instructional aides, and coaches. I have been in the classroom of every single classroom teacher Pre-K to 5th grade (26 classes) either for a full day, or during meetings. I’ve filled in for almost every other instructor including Spanish, Art, Music, Special Ed, Functional Life Skills, Library, and — as of today — P.E. !
I don’t know all the kids’ names yet, but I know who all the troublemakers are!
Slowly, as I get to know the other teachers, I know their gossip. I know who everyone wants to work with, and I know who everyone thinks isn’t pulling their weight. Who has students with overbearing parents and who loves their dog the most.
I may not know everything about teaching yet: I don’t have to deal with grading, conferences, or pacing guides. But after so many rounds of subbing, I do think I know a thing or two about lesson planning. I have seen great sub plans. I have seen boring sub plans. I have seen no sub plans.
I have seen colleagues who rally to photocopy dozens of extra worksheets for me, lending me their books and extra supplies. I have seen colleagues who promise they’ll brief me on the Social Studies lesson after lunch and then never show up.
I watch. I listen. I learn. I teach. I’m still wondering if I’ll end up pursuing teaching, but I’m very happy where I am this year. ❂
Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.