Looking for a great way to make a little extra money? Need flexibility in your work schedule? Would you like to serve your community? Are you wondering whether teaching is right for you? If you answered, “Yes!” to any of these questions, I have good news for you: school districts countywide need qualified substitute teachers.
It’s not hard to become a substitute. You must have a bachelor’s degree, pass the CBEST, agree to a background check with fingerprinting, and receive a clean bill of health on your tuberculosis test.
Why do we need substitutes? Because full-time teachers need time outside the classroom to keep up with the latest teaching techniques, in part to finish implementing the Common Core State Standards.
Almost a decade ago, the U.S. Department of Education introduced the Common Core State Standards, and almost all states adopted them. The legislation redefined and standardized what American students should know at each grade level K-12. These new standards have the potential to raise student achievement nationwide, which is exciting, but it requires every teacher in Common Core states to learn new teaching methods and material.
Today, many school districts continue to struggle to fully implement the standards. Research shows that one of the best ways to make progress is to have teachers who are new to Common Core observe master teachers and then to have those master teachers observe and instruct the new teachers. We cannot do this if we do not have enough substitute teachers.
So, if you really want to help your community, here’s a great opportunity: become a substitute teacher!
You can teach any level K-12 and any subject once you pass the CBEST—a basic skills exam required to become a California public school teacher. As a substitute, you are not expected to be a subject expert, only to follow the lesson plans of the absent teacher. On the rare occasions when the regular teacher cannot create plans, you can either create some of your own or decline the assignment.
You have complete control over which assignments you accept. If you only want to teach high school students, let your school district know and they won’t call you for elementary openings. If you only want to work on Mondays and Fridays, just say so and they won’t call you Tuesday through Thursday. You can work as much or as little as you like.
Although each district is a little different, once you agree to be a substitute, most will invite you to tour school campuses and spend a little time with the administrator so you can familiarize yourself with their facilities. Then, on a morning when they need help, they’ll call you. You can always decline, but if you accept, you’ll head to school and check in at the school office where you’ll receive lesson plans and access to the classroom.
If at any point during the day you need additional support, you can call an administrator. They can either remove a disruptive student from the classroom or work in the back of the room. Their presence often deters even the rowdiest students.
The lack of substitute teachers in our schools is part of what is holding back our progress, limiting our student achievement. In addition to implementing Common Core practices, we need to provide our teacher-interns with more opportunities to observe experienced teachers in action. We have many interns who have not yet completed teacher training. Without more substitutes, we cannot accelerate their learning in the classroom.
Substitutes make about $150 a day and, under certain circumstances, they can even earn sick leave. Whether you are retired and looking for something to do or between jobs and looking to supplement your income, as long as you care about kids and education, substituting could be a wonderful option for you. Once you’ve substituted for a while, that suspicious group of teens hanging out downtown will be a bunch of kids you know and care about and those rambunctious elementary school kids will no longer be annoying strangers, but rather, endearing goofballs. Contact your school district office or the Mendocino County Office of Education Human Resources Department for more information today.
Superintendent of Schools