FYI: I did not get cake on my birthday (so hopefully you had some for me) but that may be because I was busy waiting in lines at Six Flags on my birthday.
Getting StartedMy morning as a substitute teacher always starts just before 6am. Why 6am? I thought I had figured out this subfinder system ( Subfinder is an online program that most school divisions/districts use to help find substitute teachers for different jobs - it is much more effective than having a person call each individual substitute). I thought 6am was the prime time for a teacher to call in sick to work. So if 6am was the prime time to call in sick to work it was when jobs would get posted online and I could job shop whilst every other substitute teacher was still snoozing waiting for their phone to wake them up with their job.
Just so you know, jobs were rarely posted at 6am. So after hitting refresh for about 10 minutes I would give up and go back to sleep for about 20 minutes. Then I would wake up and search for a job all over again. Still nothing? I would make one more attempt at 7am.
As a substitute you never know how much you will work in a month... I mean you can make guesses but you could work 5 days or you could work 20 days... so as a veteran substitute I tried to do everything that I could to make sure I was accepting as many jobs as I could. You may not know this but substitute teachers have bills too. I had rent to pay, a cell phone bill, groceries to buy... often times substitute teaching just barely covered my expenses for the month (sometimes it didn't cover them at all and I was very thankful that I'm good at saving money) there were times that I would take on a 2nd part time job in the evenings to help.
Sometimes you don't have to search online for your work for the day... sometimes the Subfinder system will call you. On these lucky occasions you will get woken up somewhere between 5-9am to find out where you are working that day (and decide if you want to accept the job or not).
Let's be honest, 5am is REALLY early. Often times you aren't thinking clearly at 5am. It could be the best sub day in the world and I might actually hit 2 on my phone and decline the job instead of the number 1 to accept it. Then there are the days you get called at 9am when that school started at 8:45. I'll be honest, I was not the kind of substitute to actually get up when I didn't have work. If I wasn't going to be working that day I was going to stay in bed as long as possible. This often meant that I got really good at getting ready and out the door within 15 minutes. It was amazing.
Chances are you've had a substitute that has accepted the job to sub in your classroom last minute. She or he may have gotten ready and out the door in no time at all. If they look a little dishevelled or like they just rolled out of bed... it might be because they just did!
If you didn't get all of that... or maybe just skimmed through it... substitute teaching can be hard before you even get to the school. What makes it even more difficult is that where I live there are an abundance of people graduating with their education degrees every year. Since there aren't even close to that amount of teachers retiring every year this means that there are also an abundance of substitute teachers. So you better be proactive about getting your sub day lined up or you may not be working at all.
I suppose the silver lining to all of this is that if you are an amazing and awesome substitute teacher (such as myself) you will get requested for sub days a lot of the time. This means that sometimes I know exactly what school, teacher, and class I will be working with that day. This is an amazing feeling. I can get up to my alarm and not my phone ringing at 6am and take my own sweet time getting ready!
I've had many interesting situations as a substitute teacher that make me laugh all the time. But this is about the stresses of substitute teaching... so next Thursday we will delve into some stressful substitute teaching assignments I've had.
Be sure to come back for Part 2!