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: