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Thursday, August 19, 2010

I’m Sure You Understand…

This is the first day of the new school year. A lot of changes occurred over the summer since the close of the previous school year. The district replaced the old “SubFinder” substitute assignment system with the "SmartFindExpress" system.

The old “SubFinder” was telephone access only. I could call the system for an available assignment any time of the day or night. Alternatively, the system would call with an automated request if an assignment was available.

If I declined the assignment, the system went to the next name on the list until it found a “taker”. If there were no takers, it simply looped back around to the top of the list and tried again. The list, presumably, was ordered from high to low by some desirability or seniority scale, and would keep calling even AFTER the start of the school day, attempting to fill the position until canceled by the school. The system, though a bit outdated, worked fine.

Over the summer, the district installed the new “SmartFindExpress” system and encouraged us to check it out and get familiar using it. It has both phone and web access to display, presumably, all upcoming assignments for the week, month. The phone access operates, presumably, the same way its predecessor did.

I say “presumably” because the “list of available assignments” feature disappeared from both the phone and web access menus a few days before the start of school.

I called the district office to inquire when the substitute assignment system would start showing available assignments. The substitute coordinator informed me that the system up and running and showed no problems. When I asked about the unavailability of assignments list menu, the answer was disappointing.

Due to budget cuts, the district layoff of several teachers over the summer placed them on the substitute teacher rolls, which was ok with me. I assumed that they would be placed on the top of the list of all available substitute teachers to call.

What I didn’t expect was there are now TWO lists: the fired teachers (FT) list and the list for the rest of us. Only the FT’s have access to all available substitute assignments. The rest of us won’t be called until all available FT’s have had a chance to accept ot decline the assignment up to and until the morning of the assignment. That’s presumably when they’ll activate the second tier list to service the late morning “leftovers”.

“It’s only fair. I’m sure you understand…” was the last comment from the “Substitute Coordinator” at the district office before I hung up on her.

What I understand is that I’ll probably be working a lot fewer days this year. I’ll have to wait and see if renewing my yearly state credential was worth the cost.

Too soon to tell…


Liz A. said...

We have a similar thing going at our district. I'm wondering if it's time to find another line of work.

GT Goddess said...

Oh man that sucks. Can you get around it by having a teacher request you specifically for a job? If not, you should have some of your "regulars" complain to the district that they want to book you.
I understand that the laid off teachers need options too, but treating veteran subs like that is just wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'm faced with a similar situation in three of the four schools I sub in. Like you said, we'll see how this yr. goes. Midwest sub.

Anonymous said...

This is not what I wanted to hear as I try to sub for the first time in the Chicago you know if anyone can still get ON the sub list?

KauaiMark said...

" you know if anyone can still get ON the sub list"

You'll have to contact each school district to see if they have any openings in the sub pool. I'd try get on at more than one district at this point.

Tiffany said...

Wow, that is harsh. I hate that for you. I understand teachers need to be on the list, but it doesn't seem necessarily fair for them to get first dibs on everything.

Geez, what will you do instead?

HappyChyck said...

That's a terrible trickle-down effect. I hope things work out okay.

PamelaTrounstine said...

Also in the 408... signed up with two districts still. One laid off their teachers last year and did this... and I got called ONE day in the entire second semester. Let's compare notes!

Chris Osborne said...

That's just all kinds of stupid.

I understand why they'd want fired teachers to have first dibs. I'm even fine with that. But they need to tell you that as early as possible, especially since you have to pay to be able to sub.

I also get the impression that the system will roll around until all of the fired teachers decline jobs. What if they don't decline it? Will it just continue to roll around that list?

It could be worst, at least you have the day off the assignment to grab it.

ava said...

This is harsh! While I do understand that these teachers were laid off from their positions it does not take into account the young up and coming teachers will need to be there for when people retire.

Veronica Chase said...

This is so disappointing! I'm so sorry to hear that. I agree that they should have told you earlier. Are there any districts in close proximity that do not have this problem? I feel bad for the laid off teachers and the substitutes who will now have their workload affected. I guess the only thing to do is to make sure you're up early in the mornings in case a call comes in, and be prepared to be called in after the school day starts.

I hope you're still able to find work.

Veronica Chase said...

I meant to add, this may be the year to go out on a limb and tried the grade levels you've avoided thus far. It will at least increase your chances of work! You never know, high school and middle school may not be as bad as you expect.

Anyway, good luck to you.

KauaiMark said...

"...out on a limb"

Great suggestion. I'll be contacting the High School district Monday to see if the the substitute rolls are open.

It would be an eye opener from Kinder and 1st grader levels, right? (...or maybe not!)


Vagabond Teacher said...

This was the process in two of my districts last year. This year they also put it into effect in the district where I get the most work. They've eliminated teacher requests, which is bad for both the subs AND the classroom teachers.

The only thing we can hope is that the pink slipped teachers find something else or decide unemployment is more lucrative than subbing.

Best of luck to you....and all fellow subs in the same predicament.

Sladed said...

I'm sorry but if the system works the way you describe, it's rather shortsighted of them. Waiting until the morning OF to offer jobs to the regular subs is risky and likely to lead to a less happy group of people working in the classroom.
Your hierarchy and system make more sense.

A said...

That's interesting. My question is, do a lot of full-time teachers take up subbing? I'd think that teachers would get more money in unemployment benefits (with COBRA benefits) than accepting subbing positions.


ivan said...

You probably do not remember that I suggested to you several years ago to try substituting at the high school level. At the time, I thought high school substituting was in many ways easier than at elementary and middle schools. My view has been tarnished over the last few years, and while some high school classes are easier, many more are extremely difficult, so I want to give you a few suggestions, if you don't mind.
1. Check the API score of the high school you intend to work at. The higher the score, the greater the chance the classes will be manageable and vice versa.
2. AP and Honors classes are generally good, students in ordinary level classes are questionable and you could be in for an extremely arduous day as their teacher has probably had many substitutes, some of whom have not dealt with problem students adequately and so the class will try to take advantage of you.
3. Tell girls at the beginning of class not to apply make-up during class time, even if they have finished their work. Tell them if they take out their make up kits, you will send the first two to the office and give the names of the others to the teacher.
4. Ask all students to refrain from using cell phones. Some will say that they are only using the calculator function, don't let them get away with it. Tell them it is OK if their teacher lets them, but you have discipline issues as a substitute.
5. If you let students go to restroom, note the time they leave. Sometimes they are gone for 20 minutes, unless you note the time you cannot challenge them on it.
6. If you can, make them sit in their assigned seats, if they have them. You have their names on the seating chart, however they will try to fool you by sitting in an other's seat and claiming to be that person.
That's all I can think of presently, more to come if you think it worthwhile.