After being home with my kids for 5 years (what a gift!) it was time for me to make my way back into the teaching world. I wanted to ease back into the workforce with daily subbing and long term subbing and had the ability to pursue this.
I also knew that with 8 years of experience, a masters degree AND my ESL endorsement, I was an expensive candidate! Every job listing in my area gets hundreds of applicants. So I knew that I had to give it all that I had and prove that I was worth my salt. I couldn’t just put my foot in the door, I had to shove my body through the opening and not let go until the door was slammed shut on the tips of my fingers. I ended up getting 3 long term sub positions this year and was hired on full time for next year. Here is the first in a series of my top subbing tips.
1. Daily Subbing Prep
If you are thinking about getting back into teaching, and you have the time, start with daily subbing 2-3 days a week. Some great advice I got, which might sound obvious, is “sub where you want to work”. This is an amazing way to get the feel of a district or the different buildings in a district.
Just subbing in the building is a great start, but there is more that you can do. Having them see your face and get to know you is essential. Often the job openings go to candidates they already know and have a feel for. Eat in the teacher’s lounge and say your name with a smile as often as possible. Get a business card. Yes, a subbing business card. Here is mine:
I made sure to include the following:
– how to find me in their on-line system
-a picture. Yes, a picture. I got so many comments on how the picture really made the card stand out.
I just went into Vistaprint and ordered 500 cards for about $10 and used a pre-made template. I left these cards in every teacher’s lounge, office and classroom that I subbed in. I personally handed them to other teachers I talked to. This little doosy helped me get a number of daily subbing jobs in schools I desired to work in. I left them along with a cheery, upbeat note that I left at the end of the day. You can let the teacher know that you may have had some issues with some kids, but the overall tone should be a positive one. For example:
“Thank you so much for having me in your classroom today! We had a lot of fun and got through all of the activities (or “I have checked off what we finished”). I had to move Audrey for talking and James had a little trouble getting started, but otherwise it was a great day. If you ever need a sub again, please contact me.” Teachers will often (not always), leave busy work. I try to “grade” as much as I can, either just checking or putting a smiley face on top of correct papers. It will save the teacher some time later and will make you stand out.
Even though many districts now use an on-line program to find subs, many schools also have “preferred sub lists”. I discovered this when I was wondering why hardly any jobs were coming up in the districts I wanted to sub in. When you sub, be sure to ask the administrative assistants if they have a list and if you can be added to it.
If you are offered an interview for a long term sub job, treat it like an interview for a full time job (one of my mistakes was when I did not). PREPARE for your interview. If you have taught before or just finished your classes, you may feel (as I did) that your experience is enough…it’s not. You need to be prepared for the questions they will ask and have an idea of how you will answer them. I completely BLANKED on the question “Give us an example of when you were a teacher leader”. I TAUGHT Daily 5 to the district in my last position…but could NOT think of it in the moment. I wanted to run back into the school- “wait! wait! I thought of it!!!” (I did not get that job). I downloaded this book A+ Teacher Interview Edge. It has answers to common questions as well as worksheets you can do to help you prepare. You can also find lots of free prep advice online.
Lastly, buy an outfit for the interview. Don’t just wear a nice teaching outfit. I wish I would have done this sooner. I searched through Pinterest for “Teacher Interview Outfits” and “Interview Hair Styles” and asked for help at my local Dressbarn. They were super helpful at putting an outfit together down to jewlery. I went for something I could wear again teaching.