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my experience as a new sub


New Member
I have been a substitute teacher since September, and I can relate to many of your stories, both good and bad. I work at only one school - the elementary school where my children attend. Substituting is a good way to learn about the profession of teaching. I use this knowledge to apply it to what my children are learning and support them at home with their lessons. Teachers are professionals and have vernacular and techniques that the rest of us, although sometimes well-educated, are not aware of. Teaching is a PROFESSION, like being a doctor or a lawyer or a C.P.A., but is one that is unfortunately misunderstood and undervalued.

I, too, have been talked down to and ignored. I have felt panicked, angry, embarassed, frustrated and surely . . . EXHAUSTED. But I keep going back (for $65 a day) because I love it. Even when I'm so tired and can't come home and get in my jammies fast enough, I get up ready to go the very next morning.

This is how I cope - slow and steady. You can't be a super sub on the first day of the job. It's an on the job training thing. Take what you learn today and apply it tomorrow. Just keep applying your lessons learned, and you'll gain confidence.

Be patient. Smile alot and say "hello". Teachers are gun-shy of subs but once they realize that you're not an idiot, eventually they will smile back.

Ignore the sourpusses. There are some in every crowd. Chances are they don't like their jobs/husbands/lot in life so they're ugly to most everyone. And I assure you everyone else knows this, too.

If you do something stupid, make a mistake, don't be defensive. Just fess up, and apologize. PLEAD IGNORANCE. Tell them you HAD NO IDEA it would turn out so badly, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Remember that your charges are CHILDREN, and that you are an ADULT. You are in charge, and never, ever, let them see you sweat it. Kids smell fear, and their senses are especially heightened when a sub walks in. Do your best to fake being in control.

I enjoy this messageboard - good luck to all you subs!


Senior Member

What a great post! It was very refreshing! :)

One thing I would add would be - maintain a sense of humor. Find the funny things that happen and grab hold of them. Sometimes, it makes the bad things better. It's so much more challenging to focus on the good things that happen. I'm trying to do more of that.

Thanks again for posting this!


New Member
It gets better with experience

I must admit, my first day as a sub, just last month, I didn't think I would make it this far. I almost cried. I wanted to pay them to get out. I took a two week break and decided to go back. After that, it has been getting better and better! I feel more confident about being a sub. Every assignment, I do my very best. I always arrive early and stay until the last minute. I've already had a school request me but I was unavailable. I was very flattered. It is not the easiest job but I am learning and growing so much. The pay is low but the benefits of this experience to me is invaluable.