What inspired you to become a substitute teacher?
Career transition and boredom! In January of 2023, I exited a high pace/high stress startup. It felt like a time to step back and look broadly at what the next steps were for me. As a son of an educator family, partner of an educator – I had always avoided the industry. So naturally, if I need to broaden my horizons and explore, what better way than something that I had be avoiding my entire life. I had also seen the stories during the pandemic, on its impact on our educational system and teachers. Once I learned of the Restricted Substitute program, it seemed like a space that I could contribute.
What do you like best about being a sub?
Honestly, the biggest impact to me personally has been the individual interactions with the students. While definitely not an expert, I have found that almost every student has a desire to learn, while not all the same way or the same interest area. It’s exciting to see the students’ eyes come alive with something they align with, even for the short time that I’m with them. There is something special about recognizing a student by name and then recognizing you in the hallway, when you are guest teaching for another teacher in the building. Every school that I was in this year, I felt genuinely welcome and appreciated for being there. Being a substitute teacher is not a glamorous life, and there are days that are really hard, but the gratitude from the other teachers, that someone has their back if they need to be out, is satisfying.
What do your kids think about you teaching at their school?
I guest taught at my daughters school several times, but never in her classes. She enjoyed carpooling to school and I think engaged in the conversations with her friends who were in my class. She would always ask if I met her favorite teachers. Of course there were always the warnings to not embarrass her! In general I think that she liked having me at the school.
What would you say to other parents who might be thinking about becoming substitute teachers?
First you can do it – can’t tell you how terrified I was on my first day. I sat across a table from CEO’s of multinational corporations that didn’t terrify me as much. I learned about my own capacity to be flexible, go with the flow and engage with the students as fellow humans. Guest Teaching will be a growth opportunity for you, you will learn about yourself and gain a different perspective on students and education. You will be tired, you will feel like you contributed, you will feel appreciated, you will make new relationships with students who feel valued that you saw them and showed up.
Teachers carry a heavy load and are impacting students on a daily basis. However, I feel that in a small way substitute teachers can support that impact and leave their own impression on students’ lives. By being willing to take the time, enter the unknown classroom, see them as learners and the future, and invest in them with a little time, a story about yourself, and a commitment to their safety.
Applications are now being accepted – visit the below QR code for more information.