Substitute Teaching: The Good, The Bad and The Weird

I have been substitute teaching for nearly five years. My substitute teaching has been defined in two ways over the past five years:

  • Per Diem
  • Long Term

I have held four long term positions in the past five years, including a K-2 self contained classroom, 2nd grade inclusion, 4th grade classroom, and most recently a 3rd grade inclusion classroom. Each position has provided me with new experiences and learning opportunities for which I am grateful, but not one has resulted in a full time position.

Not finding a full time position since earning my initial NYS certification certainly hasn’t been for lack of effort. If I had to make a realistic estimate on the number of applications I have sent in, it would be around 225 (no really, I’m serious). Out of that estimated 225 application list, I would say I have had about 10 formal interviews. I think those stats just go to show you that my city is not so teacher-friendly at the moment.

I have often been asked if I would change my career path, and while I do mull it over from time to time, I always come back to the same answer: no. There are two main reasons I would never change my career path: 1) Teaching is an extremely rewarding career field that offers you the opportunity to touch so many lives, many whom you become one of the only caring adults in their life, and 2) I am way too curious to sit behind a desk or in a cubicle and be a nine-to-fiver.

Another question I have been asked is, “why don’t you just move?” In other words, why don’t I move to a more teacher-friendly area and get a job in a snap since NYS teachers are a hot commodity, especially down south. My answer is … I don’t know. Why haven’t I moved? I’ve applied out of state but never truly pursued it. I have other fellow teacher friends who have found jobs out of state and never looked back. But I still have other teacher friends who have found positions in the area, and that gives me hope that I can do that too. Timing is everything, so I’ve been told.

I surely feel like my life is on hold while waiting for a permanent teaching position. There are a lot of things you can’t do being a substitute teacher, the most important of which is get an apartment or a house. Mind you, I also coach High School Cheerleading, which is essentially a second full time job without the full time paycheck. And I always work during the summer: I’ve worked at daycares and I also have been a Class Aide/ Substitute Teacher for a special needs summer school.

So despite me working all the time, I’m still searching tirelessly for my own classroom. For now, I’ll continue to hunt down job openings and I’ll keep putting my best foot forward during those interviews. Until I snag that permanent position you can find me drinking lots of coffee and seeking out lots of adventures, because everything in my life doesn’t need to be on hold…



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