Friday, April 12, 2024

things I've learned as a substitute teacher

The first thing I've learned as a substitute Teacher, is that there is absolutely no such thing as a substitute Teacher. Nope. Not even close.

There is just no substitute for the full time classroom Teacher. To be able to provide an appropriate substitute or swap- it would probably take at least 6 people. The job Teacher and the job substitute Teacher have almost nothing in common but students and teaching and school.

Walking in to substitute today. I get excited and nervous every time I enter a new classroom.

A substitute can pop into a classroom for their chosen assignment. Maybe it’s for an hour. Maybe it’s for 8. When I leave for the day, I may think about great interactions I had, the moments of learning or connection that made me feel alive. I may think about the hard moments, or the things I could have done better or differently. But ultimately, I can let it all go because I am no longer responsible for those students. If there is a really difficult classroom- I don’t have to go back to it.

I don't have to lesson plan. I don't have to learn curriculum. I don't have to do research or gather and make materials. I don't have to pay out of pocket for things my classroom and my students need. I don't have to make copies. I don't have to try and create engaging lessons. 

Education is not one size fits all- but as a substitute, I don't have to differentiate instruction. I don’t have to worry about how I can make the work accessible but appropriately challenging to every student. I don't have to remember all the specific needs of each student with an IEP. 

I do not have to communicate with parents. I don't have to try and connect with guardians who can’t be reached and haven’t responded to my attempts. I don’t have to talk to parents who have unreasonable expectations and make unreasonable demands. I don't have to provide impromptu status updates to parents who inquire.

I don't have to answer a zillion emails. I don't have to communicate with Administration. I don't have to stress about standardized testing. I don't have to belong to committees. I don't have to attend staff meetings. I don't have to document everything and input endless data.

I don’t have to fill out paperwork and fill out questionnaires. I don't have to collaborate with Speech Therapists, School Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and other Related Services. (Each one of those professions also deserve their own YOU ARE AMAZING blog posts.) 

I don't have to go to my car during lunch or a break because the sadness is leaking out and I just need to cry. This matter of helping to educate roomfuls of complicated humans is rewarding but so heartbreaking sometimes. 

I don’t have to know state and local Ed code. I don’t have to attend professional development, and endless meetings and trainings. I don't have to come in early and I don't have to stay late. I don't have to hold my bladder for inordinate amounts of time. 

I almost wept today when I finally got to use the restroom after school was over and the students were all gone!😂

I absolutely ADORE being a substitute Teacher. But when I get accolades for it, my heart sinks because I want to give them all DIRECTLY to the real Classroom Teachers. They deserve all the praise because they do it ALL. (And they never think they are doing enough.) One of my favorite parts of being a substitute - is getting to see the real Teachers in action. It honest to goodness brings a tear to my eye- watching how well they teach and how well love their students. 

Teachers: Thank you. We don't say it enough. Thank you.

You are my hero.

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