Sunday, December 20, 2009


“All our lives we search for someone who makes us complete. We choose partners and change partners. We dance the song of heartbreak and hope all the while,wondering if somewhere,somehow there is someone searching for us.”

- Author Unknown

I decided to see what came up if I typed “Substitute Teacher” in google search. 2,000,000 results were found, but like most searchers, I only examined the first page. For the second choice, this site came up:, which had a lot of good advice for new subs, but I disagreed with some of it.

One, I’m not going to skip coffee just because it may make need to use the bathroom in the middle of a three-hour class. Most classrooms have adjoining doors, and a neighboring teacher can always help out in that department (It’s like a sisterhood and brotherhood of toilet breaks). I’d rather need to pee than need to sleep.

Two, I’m not going to leave a change of gym clothes in car, just in case. That happened once, and I just told the students, “I was supposed to teach fifth-grade today, but they changed my assignment.” Also, I find that some of the least amount of exercise I get is subbing gym, which often requires a lot of intent watching. If gym teachers are in shape, it’s because of what they do when they’re not working (And many do not exercise this option). The only time I’ve needed yoga pants and sneakers has been when I’ve decided to do the warm-ups with the young ones. Though I like his advice about always bringing a whistle.

Three, I’m not going to ask the first student who walks in what the class is like because that’s a sign of weakness, and when they tell me (unsolicited) the other kids are bad, they’re usually wrong. Besides, I can size the problem students and classes up by their behavior in the hallway. In fact, just pay attention to the students getting reprimanded by other teachers before they enter your room, and you’ll have a name and a face, even if that students lies about his or her identity.

Four, I don’t believe telling a student, “I don’t know” is a sign of weakness. If I say, “Look it up,” it’s because I admit I don’t know the answer. I always bring my laptop, and most schools have Internet access. Why not look it up instead of pretending to know something I don’t?

I did like that he called the person in charge of the sub line The Gatekeeper. Sounds ominous.

We all come up with what works for us, but getting advice about where to begin is great because those first few jobs are daunting. I recently got a comment on an earlier post from someone who was about to sub for gym for the first time the next day*. She did a search on substituting gym, and found my blog. After reading it, she ran out and bought a whistle. I was amazed that my blog actually helped someone.

I’ve also noticed that some districts use Guest Teacher instead of substitute teacher. Check out a fellow substitute blogger:

Four choices down on google, and I came across a section called “Image results for substitute teacher” One was of a man who was bandaged with electrical tape and had a bloody lip. I clicked to find out more and found this site: He makes a good point:

If you are going to be a Great Substitute Teacher you must imagine your greatest mental and or social weaknesses. You need to realize the students are going to expose most of those weaknesses before the end of the first class of the day!

Another photo showed an old man teaching in front of a board, which I thought was going to be a parody, but he turned out to be the oldest (and maybe, the most respected) substitute teacher out there:

Apparently under images, there were also some cartoons:

It goes on with 1,550,000 images, from a disparate as a big-busted blonde and a prissy looking woman. I think I fit somewhere in the middle.

You know you’ve arrived when Wikipedia has a page about you (unless you, a friend, or a relative set it up) or at least, your occupation. Subs have gotten their due: I learned exciting information like, besides Guest Teachers, have more names in more places:

Relief Teacher (Australia and New Zealand)

Supply Teacher (United Kingdom and Australia) Make up your mind, Australia.

T.O.C or Teacher on Call (Canadian province of British Columbia)

All of these sound slightly subversive.

I also found out there is a Substitute Educator’s Day according to the NEA (National Education Association, which was mentioned on Wikipedia). I looked up NEA, and found this: that told me that the day is celebrated at the end of American Education Week. When is that? I did more research: to find out it was 11/15-11/21/09, so I missed the big day, and didn’t even get a card. Hopefully I won’t be eligible to celebrate the day next year.



  1. Very helpful...thanks!

  2. Thank you. I'm glad anything I write is helpful to anyone.

  3. I really loved this wonderful blog. Please keep up the good work.

  4. Nisha, thank you. I hope the post was helpful.