The Substitute Teacher Horrible Story

I’ve worked as a substitute teacher for years, in-between full-time positions and when looking for full-time teaching positions.

For the vast majority of the time you are treated by school administrations and teachers alike as if you are a piece of human garbage or a ghost who does not exist.

I cannot count the number of times, I’ve walked into schools and have been told that I would sub for one subject and grade and then be told that now that I was actually there, I’d have to sub for a completely different course or grade level. Most of the time lesson plans are either nonsensical or confusing, and other times they’re not there at all. Most of the time lesson plans consist of “busy” work exercises that children complete in just a few minutes and they you are left trying to fill hours of time.

If I use material of my own, teachers complain that you’re going outside their scope or intention. But if you don’t do that, you have a disorderly classroom and no learning goes on. So you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you complain about the confusing lesson plans or lack of lesson plans, no one cares. You will be seen as a trouble maker and end up banned from the school or just ignored.

I’ve had teachers complain that I did not clean up their rooms sufficiently, when their rooms were pig styles when I got there. I’ve ¬†ad teachers complain that I used material outside the classroom, but their own lesson plans were incomplete and time had to be filled. Instead of being grateful that I “took the initiative” and tried to be proactive, they resent it and see you as a threat.

Teacher lesson plans never tell you about the teacher’s regular codes or how they may or may not have order and discipline in their rooms. You have to figure out that. There are always important bits of information left out, such as how younger kids get their lunches or when “specials” are. Schedules are always off and books and other materials are always missing. Some classrooms will have DVD players and many won’t. Some schools I’ve been to, actually don’t have heat in the winter, or won’t have break rooms for staff.

Many schools have kids coming in at 8, but administration don’t come in until 7:45, so you can’t even get into the school or into your room until 8 or later…and you’ll have just minutes to try to prepare.

I am a grown man with a college degree and 20 years of professional experience directing GED programs and teaching in colleges; yet as a sub I am seen as a piece of human garbage, a walking ghost, not with a “hello” as teachers walk past.

Also, I am literally sick of female teachers scowling at me and demanding that I show my IDs when I sub because I am a man. I watch them hug each other and help each other out in different rooms, but as a sub you are on your own in every way possible and they will die before they will ever offer to help you. Or they will offer help and then not respond when you ask.

Substitute teaching is a horrible, disrespectful job where principals and staff just want you to keep rooms quiet and won’t supply any materials or help and full-time teachers see you as a chump or loser for even being there and will complain about you in a heartbeat if they don’t like anything about you or if you do anything that gets their attention. I wish I could quit, but I need the job.