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How to try substitute teaching
How I did it: Actually becoming a substitute was fairly easy. My school district has a substitute office website which lists all of the requirements to become a sub, so I just followed the steps. I took me over a month but I probably could have done everything within two weeks if I wanted to.
The basic process consisted of:
- filling out an online application
- submitting my college transcripts (pay rate was based on level of completion)
- completing and faxing previous employment verification forms
- authorizing a background check
- getting fingerprinted/photographed
- attending a two night training course
The harder part was building my confidence. I didn't work much in the beginning because I was so nervous, but at the end of every day I'd say that wasn't bad at all and wonder why I'd panicked in the first place. I finally got over this when I found a school I really liked where I got along with the teachers and knew I could ask them for help at any time.
Lessons & tips: Get to know the staff at the schools where you work. Always go to lunch in the cafeteria to meet the teachers. In the beginning I always rushed lunch in the classroom because I was afraid of not getting back to the room in time. I didn't get really comfortable as a sub until I pushed myself to interact more.
Get to know the students. I work primarily in middle school and a huge part of my sucess as a substitute teacher has come from interacting with the kids and making them feel like we were in it together. This is also a great way to get more jobs. I've had teachers I never covered for contact me to see if I could cover their class because the students specifically told them to get me any time they're out.
Be prepared to actually teach. You're not there to sit and read the paper. Most teachers will leave worksheets for the students to complete. If you're lucky they'll also leave an answer key (keep it hidden!). Take time to go over the student work before the start of classes so you're familiar with it. During class, walk around the room and offer to help students. Just knowing you may walk by them should help keep the students on task.
Overall I've found teaching to be a wonderful experience and I'm currently working to become certified. I found a school I love and students I adore so much that I went on their graduation trip with them : ) I've even had days off where I fin myself wishing I could be at work.
Resources: School district employment office.
Teachers and school office staff.
Substitute Teacher Handbook from Utah State University.
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