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Should I Sub?: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Substitute Teaching

Teaching is difficult. Managing a classroom of any group of people is a big undertaking for any person. When you add the challenges of teaching, it???s truly amazing that substitutes do what they do SO well.

If you???re considering becoming a substitute teacher, you should consider all of the pros and cons. Substitute teaching has big benefits and notable drawbacks which need to be assessed before you make a commitment. We have laid out a few of the biggest pros and cons of substitute teaching below. We recommend speaking with teachers in your local district(s) to get more insight before you take the leap.

Pros and Cons of Substitute Teaching

Pro: You make your schedule

Substitute teaching is a great option if you have a flexible or part-time job, college course schedule, or freelance gig. It can supplement other income or works well if you???re the primary care parent and your children are school-aged. If you have a doctor???s appointment or a vacation, you don???t have to ask anyone???s permission to take time off ??? you call the shots.

Con: Subbing can be unstable

It???s also not super reliable income-wise because of the flexible nature of subbing. You may score a maternity leave and work every day for months and then go weeks or longer without a gig. You???re competing with other subs in your district of choice and the more available you allow yourself to be, the more work you???ll get. Substituting is almost-never full time.

Pro: You get to try lots of grade levels and subjects

Subs never have to be bored. You may teach any subject K-8 or K-12, depending on your knowledge level, background, and interest. Spending a week teaching kindergarten, high school physics, fourth grade, and Phys. Ed. might be overwhelming to some, but it ensures that you???re always on your toes.

Con: It can be difficult to plan ahead

On the other hand, being on your toes can be added pressure. Substitutes have to be flexible and ready to take on whatever job comes that day. If you???re not as comfortable with smaller children, kindergarten may be a big awakening for you. The same is true for older teens, specific subjects, or schools with a different ???way??? of doing things.

Pro: It???s a foot-in-the-door, if you???re looking for full-time

If you are a certified teacher looking to score a full-time teaching gig, subbing for a year is a great way to develop rapport,

Con: You???re sometimes seen as *just* a sub

It can be tough to prove yourself when people see you as a babysitter and not the talented, skilled teacher that you are. We like to see this as a chance to prove the cynics wrong.

Pro: The students are excited to switch things up

As kids, we always loved the substitute because he or she was a new face for the day and a chance to switch up the routine. You will often be welcomed with excited and curious faces.

Con: Sometimes, students see their teacher???s absence as a ???free??? day

Classroom behavior management is sometimes difficult for substitutes ??? especially those who are new ??? because students assume the sub won???t hold them accountable or that the material will be easier.

Pro: Your plans are usually laid out for you

All the fun of teaching without the rigor of planning your day? Count me in!

Con: You sometimes have to wing it

The trouble with following someone else???s plan is that sometimes the plans laid out were done in a rush, aren???t clear, or leave out details. It???s always good to establish rapport with the other teachers nearby to ask questions.

Pro: There is excellent software to manage your jobs

Substitutes in 2018 are lucky! District employees had to get on the phone late at night or early in the morning, dialing subs off of a list. Hoping that someone would be available for the upcoming school day. Now, there is software that manages teacher absences, substitute availability, and scheduling. You can learn more about substitute management software features here.

Con: Too many districts don???t have a substitute management software

Do you work for a district that still does things that OLD way? If so, you may want to gently suggest a substitute management platform to your district or school administrators. These advanced tools will automate the substitute hiring process for subs AND district staff so it???s a win-win for both parties. Have your administrators contact us ??? we???d love to chat about the benefits for their school.

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