• Are you a teacher? Join us! Register Now for a free ProTeacher account!

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys


Ima Teacher

Senior Member
I know there are nine teachers out in the building.

I know that classes are being combined, people are covering on planning, specials teachers & interventionists are being pulled, and it’s just a scheduling nightmare.

I know that I’m qualified to sub.

However, I’m not interested in subbing, especially when covid is rampant and the whole building is a hot mess from the scheduling issues. Don’t act huffy like I owe you something.


Senior Member
Yikes!! Yeah, I would stay away from that hot mess too. There is a reason you decided to retire and biggest perk is being able to do what you want, when you want, and not have a boss!:D

If they hope to ever have you, or others sub, they should be very mindful of staying on your good side!


Senior Member
Don’t act huffy like I owe you something.
Well that wouldn't be the way to ask for subs!

If this school is left on its own to find subs and teachers it will finger something out eventually. There are times when 'helping out' doesn't solve the problem long term.


Senior Member
Nope, I wouldn't sub in that situation, either.

The first year after I retired I got a guilt trip from the sub coordinator at my old district because I would accept a job that was 7 miles away and that paid $50 more/day or a job that was 2 miles away and that paid $30 more/day rather than holding days open so that I could drive 25 miles to sub at my old district out of "loyalty." I worked hard every year I was there and built a successful music program in a tiny school. I didn't owe them a blessed thing when I retired.


Senior Member
I totally get you!

By the time I retired, I was glad to be out of there.
Things only got worse with Covid.
I was shocked by the way people tried to guilt trip me into subbing.
I don't feel like I owe anybody there anything other than 1 really good friend.
I was asked to do it for the kids, my colleagues, and the school.
Sorry! Not sorry!
I must have had a good poker face since they did not realize obviously how done I was.
Plus, I don't easily guilt trip when I feel like I am being manipulated.


Senior Member
No Thank You

You are validated. I'm retired, and there is no way I would sub right now. I'm glad I left work a few years before Covid. From what I've heard from a teacher friend things are worse than ever in our county schools.


Senior Member
Your life, your choice. (And my decision would have been the same as yours.)

Yes, the students deserve to have a qualified teacher.

Yes, the teachers in the building deserve to have subs.

But no, that does NOT mean that you are obligated to sub. And if you are not treated respectfully and your "no's' are not respected, you can block the calls.

NJ Teacher

Senior Member
Not a chance…

Even without Covid in the picture, I have no desire to ever sub. I retired for definite reasons, and never intend to return in a professional capacity. Covid puts the exclamation point on it.


Senior Member
“Don’t act huffy like I owe you something.”

Quite right.

Very early on in my teaching career, I was a sub (briefly). We were able to define the boundaries of how far we were willing to go. You could even specify which schools you wanted and if those schools liked you, the principal would ‘endorse’ you or something and you’d be top of the list to sub there, so you’d see a handful of subs who almost seemed to be full-time at the same school because they were called so often.

You could also define what level you wanted: Lower Elem., Senior Elem., Middle School, High School. I was worried about getting called enough so I initially said Middle and High School. Then I discovered that if you included Middle at all, that’s all you ever got called for since a lot of subs hated Middle. I came to hate subbing in Middle as well because most Middle school classes went directly into hooligan mode the moment a sub showed up. Since those were the early days of student accountability being practically non-existent, they figured they could get away with it (and usually did). I was my own worst enemy because it’s not in my nature to complain about matters to admin, and because I was, apparently, better at navigating hooligans in Middle than some other subs. To my horror (and without my knowledge initially), two Middle school principals ‘endorsed’ me which meant that, all of a sudden, I was getting called everyday but only ever to one of those two Middle schools. The principal at one started buttering me up (she would buy me coffee when she knew I’d be coming in) and musing about permanent openings she expected to be coming up on staff.

After a month of this, I called in and said “high school only” from now on since I’d heard there was plenty of sub work in three area high schools. I actually got a call from a super on a Saturday questioning my desire to sub in high schools since I’d been getting “glowing reviews” in Middle and that was where the real need was. No thanks. High school. That was where I wanted to land a contract anyway.

So there was a day I’d booked off (you could do this by calling in in advance). It was a week before my wedding, and I needed to run some errands and also had a dental appointment booked. I got a call from the sub coordinator just as I was in the car ready to go out for the day. I told her, “Sorry, but I booked it off.” She said she knew that, but they were desperate for subs as there was a record number of unexpected teacher absences and they were calling everyone regardless. Gave me a massive guilt trip which, foolishly, I fell for as a young teacher. I relented and said I’d cancel my dental appointment. Then she said I had to report immediately to one of the Middle schools (which I said I no longer wanted, but the principal had asked for me specifically). Whatever. It’s one day, right?

So I rush off to the school since it’s already getting close to the morning bell. I arrive, and the secretary, who’s looking frazzled and taking three calls at once, thrusts a sheet at me with my assignment. The AP (bit of a jerk) is standing in the hallway directing student traffic and frowns at the sight of me and looks at his watch as if to say, “Late!”. Uh… I booked today off and got called at the absolute last moment. Piss off, AP.

My assignment says I’m teaching PE for the day and directs me to report to Ms. Smith, the department chair of PE, for instructions. Now Ms. Smith is one of those gum-chewing women coaches whom I’m convinced was the model for the character of Sue Sylvester on Glee. She starts by trying to rake me over coals for being so late and informs me this is very unprofessional. When I try to explain I got a late, emergency call, she butts in with, “The bell is about to ring. I don’t have time for excuses.” Then she looks me up and down and says, you DO have a change of clothes, I hope? You can’t wear those shoes in the gym.” I say, no, I don’t have gym clothes or sneakers with me. She explodes and says, “Well… that’s just fantastic! How the hell did you expect to teach PE in wingtip shoes??” I said, again, I was called late.

Several times in the course of the day, Ms. Smith stormed up to me in the gym to tell me what I was doing wrong and saying they weren’t paying me to “stand around” and telling me I should be more actively involved with the students and their games of basketball / volleyball / badminton. She ranted that the students weren’t handling the badminton racquets properly and were damaging them, and “Are you blind? Can’t you see what they’re doing to the equipment??”

Note: I absolutely HATE sports and don’t know or care to know the official rules of most games.

At the end of the day, I heard Ms. Smith stormed down to the office and loudly announced to the principal that I was “useless” and should be written up for incompetence. The principal defended me (thankfully), but it really is proof that no good deed ever goes unpunished.

Ima Teacher

Senior Member
I do volunteer work or the county, and part is sponsored by the school district, so in order to have me “official” in the district, I was hired as a substitute. I have a few friends I did tell I would sub for if it was scheduled ahead of time and I didn’t have any other obligations. I’ve scheduled three days to work for a friend who runs a tight ship, so I know her classes will be cooperative.

HR and the sub coordinator know that I’m only working if I let them know.

I retired for a reason. <!--giggle-->

School Time

Senior Member
I am not allowed to sub in my district until March. State requirement that you wait 180 calendar days after school starts. I was also there before the background check and fingerprinting started to start from scratch. No, thank you. I started my career as a sub but don't want to go back.

Funny thing, the state won't let me volunteer in my district but reading to a class is ok. I called twice to confirm. That is being a guest lecturer.

Ima Teacher

Senior Member
I am not allowed to sub in my district until March. State requirement that you wait 180 calendar days after school starts.
We used to have to wait three months, but since there are so few teachers and subs available these days that they are allowing retired teachers to start working immediately.


Senior Member
Stick to your guns! Last year, I still wanted to be teaching and that was why I agreed to be the long term sub. Not this year!

When I said I would stay on the sub list for this year I narrowed down my availability. (This is my old school and I want to see this group of 8th graders finish their time there.) I told them no last minute calls and said 4th - 8th grade only. I subbed two days this week and that was more than I really wanted to. The math teacher (who replaced me!) had a funeral, so I agreed to come in on a second day. I have physical therapy 2 days a week right now, so I'm busy enough, thank you.