Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Career Path in Education

I am a substitute teacher - partly by choice, partly due to circumstances. I was talking to a regular teacher today and I mentioned how much perspective a substitute teacher gets through seeing lots of other classrooms and dealing with a wide range of kids. This led to the idea that, perhaps the best thing for new teachers to do would be to sub for a while, before taking or getting offered a full time position. What a good way to view many different ways of classroom management, to get familiar with the ages and stages of a wide range of students, and to see how different buildings and different staffs operate. Even with the best of student teaching programs, this is usually not possible.

Requiring new teachers to sub a year or two, in fact, might be a solution to another problem, too: as a sub, I do not make enough money to live on. Even though my school district pays more than any other school district I have subbed in previously, last year, I only made $11,000 gross. If I had subbed every single school day possible, I would have made less than $21,000. Considering that there are no benefits in connection with this job - no health insurance, no sick leave, etc., it is not enough money to live on. Thus subs are generally either retired teachers or people who depend on spouses or others for health insurance and other benefits. If new teachers were hired as full time teachers, although staffed to substitute positions, they could make enough money to live on and good teachers might not be marginalized out of the profession before they even get started.

I suppose there are logistical problems: what do you do with subs that aren't needed? what do you do when you need more subs than you have? how do you pay for full time teacher subs? would it work to pay new teachers at a teacher pay scale rate, but only for days that they work?

I will have to think about it more. But I do think requiring new teachers to sub for a year or two is a good idea. It gives them a much better perspective on the different variables involved.

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