Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom


I’ve been substituting for about a month now. I’ve worked something like 5 days and made about $250. Seriously. If you need money to escape somewhere tropical, this isn’t the job for you. I’m not sure if it’s even the job for me. But I’ve noticed a few things in my short working career.

-Sometimes when you are subbing at a new school you feel VERY alone. There I am, in my little classroom full of kids, with NO OTHER ADULTS AROUND. If they overtook me and tied me up with jump ropes and stoned me to death with picture books, they could probably get away with it because NO ONE would hear me screaming. Or if they did, they may not think much of it. Seriously. I check in at the office in the morning and then…there you go. The other teachers don’t say hi, at recess duty, none of the real teachers talked to me, and at lunch I just ate in the classroom because I didn’t want to wander the halls and look for the faculty room. If I needed help, I could dial the office, but good luck getting to the phone in time if those little monsters decided to attack.

–I need my own whistle.

–Junior high teachers get a prep period every other day. If you happen to be subbing on prep day, then you get a nice break, so make sure you bring a book, cause it’s awful boring sitting in someone else’s classroom with nothing to do. And on days like yesterday, when the air is still on and the heat is not, it’s VERY COLD.

–Bring a sweater (see above). It’s COLD in some schools. I feel sorry for those scrawny 13 year olds pulling their arms in to their t-shirts because they are so cold.

–At the Jr. High level, some schools give you a free school lunch when you sub. One school gave me a candy bar when I checked in. Small perks, yes, (especially considering they are paying me barely minimum wage to babysit their little monkeys) but still nice.

–Kids love a good brain teaser. Thankfully, there are a few nice ones in my substitute book that Kelly services gave me. How about this:

al me lm
em la ae

(3 square meals)

O or: be sick ed

(sick in bed)

r this one r/e/a/d/i/n/g

(reading between the lines)

If I write a couple of those on the board and have them there all class period, they wonder about it, and then we can discuss it and give the answers at the end of class. A few good jokes don’t hurt, either.

–While in some ways subbing is easier than being a regular teacher (you don’t have to deal with parents and you don’t have to make the lesson plans), being a sub for the day is EXHAUSTING! You don’t have the threat cred that the regular teacher has, and kids have that mentality that “it’s just a sub, so I can act up”. It takes a LOT of energy to stay on top of them, and I come home dragging. I couldn’t do this full time. I can barely do one or two days a week. Although maybe it gets easier. We’ll see.

–This week, as I was attending parent teacher conferences and helping at the book fair, I put a note in the teachers boxes telling them that I was available for subbing. Today I got a call. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

–I realize the difference between the honors classes and the regular classes. I’m going to MAKE my kids take honors classes from now on, even if they are not honors students and they don’t want to. There is just such a HUGE difference in the amount of teaching that can be done, and the caliber of kids. Wow.

–I subbed for my 7th grader’s math class, and she did NOT want me to acknowledge her. I wrote my name on the board, but none of them realized that I was the same Erickson as her. She doesn’t really know many people in that class. I did NOT say she was my daughter, but I did walk by and casually give her notes that said, “How’s your day going?” “Having fun?” and “Love you, Mom.” It was fun.

–Since I don’t have people calling to request me, I have to keep checking the Kelly website (since all subs go through Kelly now). If you see a job available, you have about 10 seconds to decide if you want to take that job, because if you don’t jump at it, someone else will. It’s a lot of pressure when you see a job appear. Do I want to work today? Can I be ready to work in 25 minutes? Do I want to go to that school? Do I want to do jr High? And then if you click accept, it’s kind of the same feeling as winning a contest. I got a JOB!!


  1. Doesn’t sound like my kind of torture. But after your first year you’ll probably know if you can stand another year or find something else (if you really want to.)

  2. There’s a special place in heaven reserved for substitutes. I think it’s in the scriptures somewhere.

  3. When I first started subbing, I only subbed at the elementary school where my kids went, (and where I was involved with the PTA). That way I knew the faculty and staff and there was likely some child from our neighborhood in the class that I knew and could depend on to help out. Last year we got another elementary school and they did a bit of a shakeup with the teachers, so I am pretty familiar with teachers at all 3 elementary schools in town. I don’t do JR high or HS (hours are earlier and I want to see my own family off to school before I have to leave). Also don’t want to have to deal with pubescent attitudes.
    Yes, the pay is rotten, but I make more subbing than I do at home sitting on the couch, and I really don’t want to get a real job that would be much less flexible as far as choosing when I want or don’t want to work.

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