SUBSTITUTE TEACHING: The woes of middle school

I found myself at a crossroad. I could continue to work in child services or I could explore my interests in the one thing I’ve been around my whole life, education.

The Windy City in December
Crossing a road, eh?

New Beginnings 

I feel it best to start my story with context. It all happened so suddenly. I was not content in the work I was doing, so I decided to get my substitute teaching license and put other applications out there. I interviewed on a Monday, and by the next school week I was in the classroom.

I am assigned to teach 8th grade Pre-Algebra for 4 periods a day, 1 math intervention course, and 1 honors Algebra course. However, most of my day consisted of losing my voice and redirecting attention.

Teaching is hard. Demanding attention, respect, and brain-power from young students is no small feat. It is especially hard when the majority of the children come to the classroom with no appetite for knowledge, so the few that do are left behind. Even when the majority are trying to learn, they are behind on so much it is hard to find out where their confusion stops and starts.

I won’t lie, the job is frustrating. As a substitute, you are walking into a foreign environment where your limits will be tested. There are days when I come home so tired I sleep for 3 hours, eat, and go back to bed.

AfterlightImage 2

A visual of exhaustion  

I won’t deter you from substitute teaching, I think it is something we should all do for the experience. Working with kids can be great, and helping someone learn is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. I urge you to be prepared. It will not be easy, and it will take someone with thick skin. You’ll get made fun of, excessively, and that has to be okay to a point.

I definetly learned hard lessons of immediate boundaries and policing one’s own niceties. I used to think it was so mean that teachers would not let me go to the restroom freely, but not all of us use the restroom correctly even at that age. Not all of us will go where we say we are going, or do what we say we are going to do. Kids will take advantage of you, and you must be ready to say no.

If exploring your passions, a flexible schedule, and working with kids is something you’d enjoy I would substitute teach. Best of luck to us at finding our passions, in a world that moves too fast for us to breathe.



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