If there is one thing that irritates me (not enough to tell anyone outside of this blog) more than anything else is the question I get almost every time I substitute teach.
The question is not, what are you teaching today?
They always ask “Who are you today?”
I honestly don’t try to memorize the name of the teacher I am replacing. Sometimes I know the person and will remember.
When someone does ask me who I am, I tell them “Steven Douglas”.
More often than not, they don’t like my answer. Especially when they don’t know who I am.
Updated addition –
During the last school year, as a Long-Term Substitute, I talked with many short term subs who were not regulars at Washington High. I asked them if they had similar experiences regarding “Who they were”. They had similar experiences in schools as a short term unless they were regulars. Lucky for me, I was filling in for a vacancy so no one had to ask “What I was.”
I never knew it but in order to be allowed to conduct statewide testing with students you have to be certified. I learned that certification can be made after a 1 hour training regiment but still it is needed regardless, if you take a job like I did today. Admittedly I accepted this job at 5:09AM this morning from a robocall and did not exactly understand that it was much more than Honors English.
When I arrived I was told that because I was not certified I was not allowed in the testing centers during testing times. I was allowed to help set up the room but have been given floater assignments all day to keep me busy.
I have to be thankful to the School Administration for allowing me to stick around and do other things.
The highlights of the day have been to teach Shakespeare with 8th graders reading Much Ado About Nothing in 2nd Period. Their regular teacher was covering my 2nd period in the testing center. I also had a reunion of sorts as a lunch monitor for 6th and 7th grade lunch. I have spent many a day substituting for 6th graders at this school and saw lots of kids I knew as their past substitute teacher.
You can never go wrong when a kid comes up to you and says,
“You’re my favorite substitute teacher”.
As I mentioned in an earlier post regarding when to, or when not to, report something to Child Protective Services, it is ALARMING to me the lack of information provided to me, as a short term substitute when arriving for a job.
Disclaimer – when I came to my current 30-day job, the IEP coordinator came to me early on to make sure I read through the IEP binder kept in the room (under lock and key of course) so I am aware of learning disabilities and behavioral concerns of the kids.
Today was a 1/2 day. The kids were released at 12:45PM. Teachers then went into Committee Groups from 1-1:30PM. We all met in the auditorium at 1:30PM for a Teachers Council meeting. The administrative discussion was of no interest to me but they had a guest speaker from Blue Ridge Community and Technical College (BRCTC) who is a foster parent. She gave a 10 minute speech on what teachers need to be aware of when relating to students who are also “foster” children. She spoke about some very important things but what I took away most was the concept that CHANGE is a foster care child’s main enemy.
SHORT TERM SUB = CHANGE / INSTABILITY
As she left the auditorium, I followed her out to ask her some questions since not a single question was asked from the audience and being a short term long term sub I did not want to be the only person asking questions.
My question was, do teachers KNOW if a child is in foster care? Is this noted on a child’s IEP, assuming they have one? She told me that there are kids in the program who do have IEP’s but whether or not they’re being foster care kids being noted on the IEP’s is something that is not guaranteed as there is a great deal of secrecy involved in foster care management.
I had a chance to speak with the Special Education co-teacher in my classroom who did tell me which kids in our classes had issues similar to foster care if not directly. This information is NOT noted on their IEPs. Rather in the case of our students, their foster parents made her aware of their situation. In some cases the kids told her directly. After she shared what “unofficial” information she had, I have a much needed background on a bunch of MY STUDENTS that will make me a better, more concerned, educator for the rest of my short tenure at this job.
Back to my overarching question, should short term subs be informed of children in their rooms that have “concerns”? Considering the CHANGE issue, and the fact that I represent change and instability in the room. I have been told that as a substitute I should contact the office whenever their is an issue and not make it my issue to deal with. Perhaps this rule is important as I will imagine most substitute teachers have NO training to deal with these kids. Perhaps regrettable is, that in hindsight, the damage is already done when a substitute unknowingly mismanages a situation before being able to get help.
But I feel that it would be helpful to inform Subs of serious concerns with kids, not only for the benefit of the children, but also for the SAFETY OF THE SUBS?
Follow Up: I spoke to the principal of my current school who confirmed that Foster Care status is completely classified and teachers (much less substitute teachers) are NOT informed of this status.
Since starting substitute teaching last December, I wanted to get a long term sub job because of the 50% increase in pay. The additional moneys DO make a difference, but it is NOT THE SAME experience!
As I am in the middle of my 30 day stint, I am definitely enjoying myself and dont mind waking up early in the morning to get to work. The kids are all OK as well as the rest of the experience…
BUT, it has become a JOB! Like any job I have ever had before it is just that, a J-O-B! The difference perhaps with other J-O-B-s I have had in the past is that teaching is very much the same day-in day-out. The subject matter changes according to the Next Chapter, but the audience never changes day to day, the room is the same, the school is the same.
What I am asking myself now is if I am here for the same reasons I did this the first 4 months. It really isn’t. Sure, I will look forward to the extra money but honestly it is still less than 1/2 of what I typically made in business. It is still very rewarding knowing I am teaching kids something knew, but the stagnation is starting to set in.
Back to the short term?
It was exciting coming to a new school each day. A new environment. A new subject. NEW FACES! New craniums! Lots to write about.
That must be it. With long term teaching there is nothing NEW TO WRITE ABOUT. Long term substituting is no different from teaching other than having lower pay for the same amount of work.
I will have to think long and hard over the summer what I want to do next school season.