Substitute teaching is often regarded as an easy, effort free job where you get paid to read the paper while students talk with their friends. This is a huge misconception that draws a lot of lazy, irresponsible people into schools where children's education hangs in the balance every day. Many new substitutes are often surprised to find out that there is actual work involved when they walk into another teacher's classroom.
Substitute Teachers are Babysitter's with a Bachelors
In my opinion, babysitting is a tough job that carries a lot of responsibility. The same can be said for substitute teachers. There is so much more to substitute teaching than walking into a classroom and making sure no one pokes their eye out with the scissors. Teachers usually leave detailed lesson plans (it's rare when they don't) that supplement the current unit they are teaching. Ignoring the lesson plan can set the teacher back a day, forcing them to work double-time to catch up before state testing. Substitutes that make a habit of overlooking plans will find they get less work and school staff will quickly label them as unreliable.
Substitute Teaching is a Dead End Job
Even if your original career plan does not involve teaching, being a substitute can definitely give you lots of experience managing students. You can use this experience to transition into other careers like teaching ESL or Education Management. Additionally, there are hundreds of teachers in each school district and, as a substitute, you get to meet them all. Teachers can be an excellent resources when you are looking for a job, even if it's not in teaching. My favorite thing about being a sub is having so many nice, friendly teachers to talk to. They always know someone that knows someone that can get your foot in the door in the career of your choice.
You Learn Nothing as a Substitute Teacher
This was exactly what I thought when I first started substitute teaching. Boy, was I wrong. I have learned so much about life, children, team building, and anything else you can think of. Interacting with children is a learning experience daily, not to mention having to deliver a lesson of math and language arts that I haven't seen in years. I can't tell you how much better my multiplication skills have gotten since I started subbing. It's like having a refresher course every day. I've also had the opportunity to learn new things, such as working with autistic children and the severely disabled. I have overcome my own fears and misconceptions about the disabled and I actually look forward to working in a special needs class.
There is no Motivation Involved in Substitute Teaching
Being a substitute teacher can also be the greatest motivation to become a full-time teacher and change the face of education. During my time as a substitute teacher I have seen some amazing teachers that are touching lives and I have seen some awful teachers that make me want to change the system. The great teachers give me hope that education is not a lost cause in America and the dedication and love these teachers have is truly touching. It's a great thing to be around every day.
So whether you're considering becoming a teacher one day, or are looking for a job with more flexibility, being a substitute teacher is great if you are dedicated and responsible. It is unfortunate that so many substitute teachers take their job in stride and treat it like easy money. Being a substitute teacher is more important than you think and a great sub is remembered by teachers and students alike.