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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Push Me, Pull You...

The first couple of days after we got back from vacation, I took myself off the sub list because I just wasn't ready to go back. The long plane flights, unpacking, answering mail, getting caught up with the bills and, in reality, I just didn't feel like jumping back in a classroom quite yet.

I did check the sub line just to see what was available a few times. It was with one of those random checks that eventually displayed a plum assignment at a school less than 5 minutes drive. It was for a teacher that I know well, and is very organized. Her class is a well-behaved 6th grade class. I saw that as the sign to get back to work.

The office staff welcomed me back from my "extended spring break" saying they missed me. I met the teacher in her classroom as she finished prepping my lesson plan for the day. She was going to be at the school doing something related to the new "common core" orientation stuff with some of the other grade level teachers. If I had any problems, she was only a phone call away.

As we were going over the plan together, the front office called with a message for me to call the substitute teacher coordinator at the district office as soon as possible. I am already at my daily assignment so I could not comprehend what they could possibly want.

As it turned out, there were more teachers out that day than the number of subs available to fill all the vacancies in the district. Since the teacher I was supposed to work for today was actually there today, the district canceled my assignment.

I was re-assigned to teach middle school math where I had not worked since the double assignment debacle two years ago. Maybe I'm finally out of the doghouse with these guys.

Middle school works more like H.S. in terms of classes. The school day is broken into six, one-hour periods. The students have 50mins instruction allowing 10min to transit to their next class.

Teachers work only five of those instructional periods during the day.  The sixth is designated a "planning period" where the teacher can process any daily district paperwork, email, grading, planning, etc.

For the substitute teacher, it's usually a free 50min break unless the teacher has specified something to do.
By the time I drove down and checked in at the middle school, first period had only 15 minutes left. The students were standing outside the classroom quad with an AP (assistant principal) waiting for someone to show up. By the time we got everyone in the classroom and I had a chance to go over the lesson plan, there were only ten minutes left before the students had to leave for their next class.

Periods 2 & 3 went smoothly as the teacher had them working on pre-assigned projects. Period 4 was designated her planning period to be immediately followed by lunch.

I dutifully locked the classroom door and headed for the teachers' lounge for what I thought would be an extended lunch.

No such luck.

I'm in the teachers' lounge contemplating which overpriced soda I wanted to drink when the school wide PA system is paging me to contact the school office immediately! Since the office is only down the hall, I walk down to see what they want.

What they "want" is for me spend my "planning period" to cover one period of art before returning to my math assignment. This would free up the AP that was tagged to substitute for art today when no other subs were available.

It wasn't a request.


Snippety Gibbet said...

I am retiring this year and contemplating subbing next year. Your experience is what makes me wonder if I actually want to do that.

Snippety Gibbet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Linda TCL said...

The schools needs substitutes so badly that I am surprised that they treat them like this. I am a retired teacher and have been subbing. My worst aggravation is when I accept a particular assignment, but the school changes it when I arrive and I feel like I cannot turn the new assignment down.

KauaiMark said...


It's the weird and outrageous that's easy to write about.

As they say commercials "...your mileage may vary". Most of the time it's a pretty decent job and the kids are actually fun to be with.


Anonymous said...

My school never has enough subs. The regulars show up at the sub office each day & wait for their assignment. Every now & then I have a meeting to attend or something that pulls me out of a certain class. I have to go to the sub office & whichever sub is "off" for that period has to cover for me. I sometimes feel bad, because they need a break, too! But it's necessary every now & then.

Liz A. said...

I rarely get prep periods nowadays. Most days they have me cover on the preps. Which is fine with me. At my district, they pay us extra for that extra hour of work.

coloradoskyblue said...

Being a sub certainly has its unique challenges. That's too bad you accepted the assignment because it would be a good transition for you back from vacation and "Whammo" you're expected to teach another class. I realize we are flexible individuals but it seems to go against good educational practices whether you're a student or a staff member. Plus, they want us to work through our breaks. On the other hand, some assignments can be super easy and make up for crazy days like this one. Sometimes I just show a video for the whole day or I've gone home early and got paid for a full day.
I think subbing is great!