What inspired you to become a substitute teacher?

Transition times and a desire to contribute to the community. After graduating from the Master of Arts teaching program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, I moved to Bend and chose to work as a substitute for one year, allowing time to get to know the local schools, and work at different locations. Being a substitute offered the opportunity to explore a wide variety of roles and grade levels, and to see things from many perspectives. My first substitute experience led to a full-time position for 15 years as a classroom teacher. And now, returning from teaching overseas at international schools in Thailand for 8 years, it has been a way to transition back to Central Oregon. I have found substituting to be a natural way to reconnect with colleagues, become aware of changes in public education, and serve the community in a meaningful way.

How long have you been working in this role?

For one year at the beginning of my teaching career, and most recently, for about six months since returning from international schools.

What do you like best about being a sub?

Being a sub reminds me of the importance of approaching each day with curiosity, appreciating each unique person, adapting to the needs of individuals and groups, and maintaining flexibility – as there are often lots of unpredictable aspects of the role! I enjoy being in the moment and making the days as positive an experience for students as possible. Subbing has reminded me of how much I value learning and my desire to create meaningful experiences that inspire students to stay curious and motivated.

 What are the greatest challenges?

I have a very relationship-based approach to teaching and learning. When stepping into a new classroom or school environment, it can be challenging to know what may be going on for individual students. Taking time to build rapport and set positive expectations for the day can shift the day for everyone. Staying curious and open-minded about ways to navigate situations, and finding solutions together, have been helpful for me when solving challenges that come up.

 What would you say to others who might be thinking about becoming a substitute teacher?

Give it a try! It’s a wonderful opportunity to be flexible, adaptable, and creative. Be compassionate towards oneself and others when things don’t go as expected. The challenges often make us more resilient and give us new ideas about how to approach things. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet new people and learn new strategies, and to enjoy a flexible schedule, all while making a positive contribution to our local schools.

 Anything else?

A fresh voice and heart can be a support to others, and your efforts will be valued by educators and students.

Substitute teacher Kim Young