Spring break dancing — Shout out to substitute teachers!

Happy Spring Break! August 31 was my last blog post until now, because that’s when the school year started. That matters this year because I am substitute teaching this year. Sound awful? It’s not. I’m having a blast. It was the break I needed from my office/home office job. I put myself on a self-imposed sabbatical from my regular ‘day job’, and am very happy with my choice.

Of course, a few days have been nightmarish. I’m now afraid of 2nd graders. 😉

When this school year started, most of the students had not been in a formal classroom since spring break of 2020, when the pandemic shut down schools everywhere. For 2nd graders, that meant they hadn’t been in a classroom since Kindergarten. For 5th graders, which is the age group I started the year with, they hadn’t been in a classroom since 3rd grade. In other words, there was an extended period of easing in of the classroom structure, behavior requirements and expectations. The expectation to ‘sit down at your desk and be quiet and listen’, had been long forgotten. The classroom settings needed other options. I was inspired to see how some teachers arranged their classrooms, with diffused or dimmed lighting, curtain panels to separate sitting areas, and floor seating pads, to make calming and comfortable environments.

Since those first two months, I’ve spent most of my days in high school FACS (fka Home Economics) classes. It’s as enjoyable and rewarding as when I was a full-time salaried teacher for those first few years after college. I consider this subject matter to be ‘survival skills’, and I approach it that way in the classroom, and I feel that teaching it is important work.

There is a dire shortage of substitute teachers in public school. That is in part because of the pandemic, but also probably because substituting pays a wage similar to the fast food sector, with no insurance or other benefits. If school gets cancelled for snow or other cause, substitutes don’t get paid; not even those of us who had already committed to a sub job for that day.

On the positive side, a substitute can generally choose what days to work. You can choose your job day-by-day. And because of the sub shortage, there are a lot of jobs to choose from each day. You don’t have to work days you don’t want to. I’ve worked every school day but two this year. I didn’t expect to work every single day, but was having fun from the start, so it’s been an easy choice to keep going. I now have my favorite schools in the district, where I enjoy working the most, and where I look first for sub jobs.

In Kansas, the substitute shortage is so dire this year that they relaxed the requirements. You are now eligible to apply for a substitute teaching license if you are 18 and have a high school diploma. Normally, the requirement is a minimum of 60 college credit hours.

Kansas substitute requirements here: https://www.ksde.org/Agency/Division-of-Learning-Services/Teacher-Licensure-and-Accreditation/Licensure/License-Requirements/Standard-Emergency-Substitute-License-Requirements

And because we blog about sewing here:

This is what I’ve been helping sewing classes to make: Pajama pants, a hooded wrap robe/cardigan, and hand-sewn plushies. All are free downloadable patterns and instructions. Pattern websites below:

https://lifesewsavory.com/pajama-pants-pattern-free-pdf/
https://www.mygoldenthimble.com/make-your-own-cozy-hooded-robe-sewing-pattern-free-pattern-and-tutorial/
https://cholyknight.com/plushies/

11 thoughts on “Spring break dancing — Shout out to substitute teachers!

  1. Wow…I have respect for all teachers…and they deserve a free nerve pill supply lol…mine sure did. One thing I’ve noticed since my days in school and now. I had teachers who had been there for years and years…Bailey would know teachers who would be there 1 or 2 years and then go…there was so much turnover compared to years ago.

    Well after I typed that…I guess I just realized I just described the job market as a whole now…not just teachers.

    It must be a great feeling knowing you are teaching kids something they will remember for the rest of their lives. I hope you can slip in some of your musical taste as well! One of my teachers in High School kept a record player and The White Album was always on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes, teacher turnover and attrition is seismic right now. And true, it’s not just the teaching profession where that is taking place. But for me it feels great teaching now, this late in my career. Early in my career I felt pressure to be perfect, and it burned me out in 4 years. Great idea to subtly introduce the students to the music classics. 😀 There ought to be a way. I’ll work on it, hehe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you are enjoying it…yea I know what you mean about trying to be perfect and burning out.
        Since you are a sub and worked so much…are there that many teachers out daily? Anyway…I’m sure since you are enjoying it that will rub off on them also.

        Like

      2. There was actually a 2-day period that the school where I was subbing had to cancel school because of too many teachers out for Covid and not enough subs at the height of the Omicron spike. That 2 days made it a 4-day weekend for some people to recover or get unquarantined. They’d been grouping classes without teachers in the auditorium for large consolidated study halls, but the numbers exceeded a preset cutoff for that. Besides needing a certain teacher-pupil ratio, an overfull auditorium would be a super-spreader scenario. :/

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The word Kansas stood out. We are neighbors. I retired after teaching for 32 years in Missouri. And I subbed at my school for quite a bit after that. I guess I probably had an advantage because the kids already knew me and knew what I expected. This was the first year that I didn’t sub. It was an adjustment to be sure.

    Honestly, the sub-shortage is nothing new. Jeff City has changed a few rules to help schools find subs easier. Who knows if that will work because it can be intimidating for not much money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are indeed practically neighbors. Kudos to you for your long teaching career, and then going back to sub! Becoming a substitute was very intimidating for me, but only until the end of the first day. By the 2nd day and after that, I’ve felt comfortable with it. Each day is its own adventure though! School officials have made it sound like this year’s sub shortage is particularly dire. Hmmm.

      Thanks for your comment about our mutual backgrounds!

      Liked by 1 person

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