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Saturday, December 01, 2007

No Experience Necessary…

How many employment opportunities require minimal or absolutely no experience required? I certainly didn’t expect that teaching would be one of them when I first looked into substitute teaching.

There are some areas in the U.S. where substitute teaching requires an actual teaching degree. These jobs are filled by newly graduated or retired teachers. There are other areas in this country where “some” college or simply a H.S. diploma is the requirement.

In California, the minimal requirement is a four year college degree and passing California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) on the three R’s at a 10th grade level.

The difference comes down to supply and demand economics. If you have an excess of talent in a small market, you will almost certainly need a master’s degree to step into a teacher’s role for the day.

I just finished reading “The Emergency Teacher” that relates the first hand account of Christina Asquith’s first year as a full time teacher at one of the worst schools in Philadelphia, despite being untrained and uncertified.


School District of Philadelphia, in desperate need of 1,500 new teachers, instituted a policy of hiring “emergency certified” instructors. Asquith, then a 25-year-old reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, joined their untrained ranks. More challenging than her classroom in the crime-infested neighborhood known as “the Badlands” are the trials she faced outside, including a corrupt principal, the politics that prevented a million-dollar grant from reaching her students, and the administration’s shocking insistence that teachers maintain the appearance of success in the face of utter defeat…”

She lasted a full 180 day school year and didn’t result in the typical Hollywood ending.

That’s 179 more days than I would have attempted had I been crazy enough to try. I guess that’s the difference between being young, idealistic and full of energy .vs. mature (re: much older), realistic and pooped. I think I'll stick to my part time substitute teaching gig.

It's an eye opening story and a fast read. See the "Substitutes Book List" at left for more info...

Update 12/4/2007:

For anyone curious about the content of the CBEST , check the comments section on this post for a message from "Learning Tree" about their
CBEST Study Guide and Practice Tests.

I'm not sure if the the codes to try it out is only one time deal or not, so I'll leave it unused for anyone on a "first come, first served" status. If you use it, please post a comment here and let me know what you think of the program.

(I got my CBEST card in 1994 but didn't use it until I started subbing in 2003)


Learning Tree said...

I hope you don't mind me posting this message to your blog. In an attempt to "spread the word" about our new online program entitled, "CBEST Study Guide and Practice Tests," I would like to provide you complimentary access to the program. This offer is not a gimmick.

Our online program (over 1,250 web pages of instruction) covers all competencies including the updated 2007-2008 test specifications. The program's eight, full-length practice tests in Reading and Mathematics (4 each) are modeled on the practice test from the Official CBEST Web Site ( You can even write a sample essay and receive a reply with appropriate feedback.

Follow the simple steps below to begin using the program:

1. Locate the following URL with your Web browser:

2. Click on the "Sign In" link at the top of the page.

3. Click on the "Register" link and enter the following information.
School Number: 30004
School Key: 4a22fV893x

That's it. You are free to use the program; there is no obligation on your part. You will not be billed or contacted again. If you find our instruction and practice tests helpful, we would appreciate a post to that effect to our CBEST Blog located at , although you are certainly not obligated to do so.

If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them. Good luck on Saturday.

Craig Hansel

Sladed said...

I'm here in the north San Diego County along the coast. You must have an actual teaching credential in order to substitute. You can get an emergency credential if you are in a credentialling program but those all only good for (I think) 30 or 60 days.