I’m a substitute teacher. And I’ve worked as a substitute teacher off-and-on since 2011. I have to admit that I did not like the idea of trying to manage a classroom of students who would likely give me a hard time because, to them, I was “just the Sub”, and I wasn’t looking forward to the idea of having to adjust, and re-adjust, to new learning environments and circumstances each day I worked— but it’s the nature of the job.
Although I’ve worked as a substitute teacher (or, what some school districts call, a “Guest Teacher”) since 2011, I’ve alternated the line of work with volunteer work, internships and call center jobs, because I thought that I might work in another career field— communications and media. I’ve also been preparing to enroll in a doctoral degree program— another reason why substitute teaching has been an attractive line of work for me.
One day, while I was completing what was a “long-term” job which was originally scheduled to last for only a few weeks, until the principal asked me to continue to substitute teach in the role for the remainder of the current school year! I had no idea that this was coming. I had just been tentatively hired at a PR firm, and I was looking forward to starting law school the following year so that I could study intellectual property and technology law. I had gained a lot of experience helping people and organizations with their communications and media problems, so I wanted to started to start a full-service consultancy.
The moment she told me, “I told HR that I want you to stay”, I knew that my life was about to go down a path which (1) would be exciting and rewarding, (2) challenging, and (3) something which I had been trying to avoid all along (but, that’s another blog post).
Working as a substitute teacher has helped me to realize that I really love teaching, mentoring and helping students. And working in this long-term assignment has required me to learn how to use and develop curricula, lesson plans, organize and carryout Parent-Teacher conferences, be patient, nurture children, mediate disputes, continue to learn (which doesn’t bother me at all!) and to manage a classroom (all the dynamics involved in such work).
Recently, I enrolled in an alternative teacher certification program (ABCTE) so that I can earn certification to teach Elementary Education. I expect to take the exams in a few weeks, and I hope to be a regular classroom teacher this coming school year.
It’s truly amazing how unexpected opportunities can lead to unexpected outcomes— especially when it leads you to something that you never really thought you could do. Do you have a similar experiences? What unexpected things have happened in your life that you’d like to share? And maybe you are, or were, an educator. Be sure to share your tips, ideas and insights so that other educators can hone their skills.