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Student Teaching and Substitute Teaching

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David Goodman David Goodman 425 Points

I am on pace to be student teaching next spring, but should have finished all my required classwork before the fall semester. Would there be a value in my securing a license as a substitute teacher (which I could do) and get some experience in the classroom that way before student teaching?

Onedy Saavedra Onedy Saavedra 1490 Points

Any experience which will put you in direct contact with students will be beneficial for you. Even if it doesn't really require you to teach, just being able to gain some classroom management skills will be great for you!! Go for it, you won't regret it :)

Harry Mazurek Harry Mazurek 70 Points

You have my five hundred percent confirmation that it'd be good to get some Sub experience in front of becoming a regular teacher. I was a Sub for several years before I became a regular teacher. Experience was invaluable.

Tammy Huang Tammy Huang 1785 Points

That is a tough decision. It's a good idea to get some experience through subbing so that you can experience different classrooms, different types of students, programs, lessons, look at different classroom set ups, etc. But you need to be firm and be able to manage the classroom well, while you teach the lessons that the teacher has asked you to teach. Otherwise, the students will take advantage of you and you end up with an out of control classroom. Sometimes you also need to be prepared with a few lessons of your own just in case that teachers do not leave you with any lessons or notes and you will have to figure something out to do all day long. It's good to get your name in the subbing pool for whatever district you would like to teach in the future. It's hard to get a teaching job right now. So, it's good to get your name out there and a foot in the door. As for your teaching program, would you be student teaching full time? If you are student teaching full time, then you will probably not have time to sub. For example, my teaching program is a 3 semester block. It's for part time student and part time work. Most of us were able to keep our jobs for the first 2 semester while we attended our classes and the 72 hours (total) of student teaching that was required for the semester. The 3rd semester is full time student teaching. That is when we will have to quit our jobs and focus on student teaching and finishing our program. Good Luck!

Alyce Dalzell Alyce Dalzell 64075 Points

Hi David, Many excellent thoughts and reflections have been posted for your consideration on subbing before you are able to retain a full-time teaching job. As a 35 year veteran and mentor I would like to add that subbing will also provide the opportunity for you to view and participate in various classroom structures, discipline codes, student celebrations, and personal interactions. These opportunities can only enrich and highlight the conversations you will have with various interview committees. Best wishes in your journey! Alyce

Sarah Franklin Sarah Franklin 470 Points

I would say go for it! I am student teaching in the fall and to prepare, I have been observing classes whenever I can find time. Sometimes the teachers I observe let me take over the class and occasionally they even leave the room to make copies and whatever else and put me in charge. The first few times I was put in charge of a class it was a disaster! After a few horrible experiences I began to get used to it and I definitely noticed an improvement in my class management skills. I think that my first few weeks of student teaching would have been extremely unpleasant if I had not had the opportunity to lead a class beforehand. Student teaching is a lot of work and anything that helps take away some of the pressure is a good thing. Just remember not to get to stressed if your substituting experience is not a great one because you haven't student taught yet and substituting can be a very different experience from teaching your own class.

Jessica Quintana Jessica Quintana 995 Points

I think any experience you get under your belt will benefit you for the future. So I say go for it, I'm sure you will learn a lot!

Joanne Harkness joanne harkness 435 Points

Hi David - I have 8 weeks extra after the semester to sub. I have applied to the districts and went to get my emergency credential. I feel more qualified now to sub than I did at the start of the credential program. I think any experience can be good for us to be exposed to. We must not be too critical, we are stepping in to fill the day and do the best we can to stay on track.

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

Perhaps I am reading your question differently than others. I am reading that you want to go into a classroom as a substitute before you do your student teaching. I don’t know what state you are from, but in mine, you cannot be a sub or teach in a classroom until you have finished all of your coursework which would include student teaching. I know there are situations where you can get emergency credentials. While I think it would be useful to have a variety of classroom experiences, there are two obstacles that I see. One is, without the student teaching piece, you might find yourself in situations that you are not sure how to handle. In this business, reputation is everything. If you get a bad reputation, you might find it difficult to get a permanent position later. The other issue would be whether or not you would be covered by liability insurance. This too would depend on the state. If something were to happen in your room, you are responsible and theoretically could be sued. I applaud you for wanting to get a variety of experiences, but if it were me, I would seek out teachers I valued as role models and ask if I could come into their classrooms as a volunteer to work alongside them. You would be gaining the experience without having the other issues. Granted, you would not be getting paid, but the experience would be priceless. The other advantage is you would get known around that/those buildings, and if you do a good job and are well liked, you have an edge on other folks applying for any open positions.

Caroline Dillon Caroline Dillon 315 Points

I was in your exact position a few weeks ago, but I decided it would be a great experience so I went for it! I completed my first day substituting on Friday and I LOVED IT. I don't think I will always love it, because i'm sure my students won't always behave as good as my Friday's bunch. I strongly suggest you go for it! When's a better time than now?

Ashley Thayer ashley thayer 1615 Points

Thanks for the input. I'm also interested in trying to sub while I'm working on my education degree!!

Ashley Kirkwood Ashley Kirkwood 455 Points

I just finished my first semester pre-student teaching. I did not have any previous substituting beforehand and was fine. I think it will depend on your guide/master teacher. I had a great master teacher who gave me great advice and plenty of time in front of the class. I do believe the only way to really learn is to actually be in front of the class so if you need more practice then substitute teaching may be helpful for you but it also depends on where you are from and if you are allowed to.

Marisela Montes Marisela Corona 3650 Points

I am currently a student teacher this semester and I will graduate in December. I'm not sure how hard it will be to get a job in the spring and was thinking of being a sub for the spring semester. At least I will be in a school and I might be offered a job.

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

David- Definitely! Subbing before actually teaching was so helpful because not only did I get a chance to go into different schools to get a feel for the various environments, but others (especially principals) were able to get to know me. I worked my way up the ladder while I was in school going back for my initial certification-from a daily sub, to long-term supply sub, to instructional paraprofessional, and finally - to teacher. Each position prepared me for the next, and I am glad I began that way, especially since my undergraduate degree is in television and mass media and I needed a lot of work! All the best! Naomi Beverly

Briana Tharas Briana Tharas 180 Points

Teaching is all about experience. In my opinion, as a future educator it is extremely important to soak up as much experience as possible. Best of luck!

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

I agree! I would suggest substitute teaching prior to student teaching as a great opportunity to experience aspects of the career prior to entering into your own classroom. Substitute teaching will offer you an opportunity to "test out" classroom management techniques and learn how to interact with students within a classroom setting. You may also given an opportunity to practice different teaching strategies, depending upon what the requirements and opportunities are within your substitute teaching assignment. If you are substitute teaching in the same school as where you will be student teaching, you will also have the opportunity to build student-teacher relationships with your future students. If this is the case, use care to develop the type of relationships you are willing to student teach with over the next semester. However, I would also caution you to consider that some of your experiences as a substitute will not be the same as within your classroom. I still consider a great opportunity, and I would encourage you to try it. Good luck with whatever you decide, and good luck next semester!

Gabriela Gutierrez Gabriela Gutierrez 1115 Points

So many great points were brought up about experience and making the most of it. I have also heard many great things about subbing in potential districts and schools of interest to see if that particular school is somewhere you feel you would be a good fit in. Thank you for the insight educators and future classroom teachers!

Molly McGinnis Molly McGinnis 2415 Points

David, I think that depending on what state you are in and what program you are in for teaching will play a major role in your decision. The education program that I am in now is very intensive. While I would have loved to sub, it just was not possible for me and the coursework load. While subbing would be great classroom experience it may also come with some extra stress. It all depends on if you feel like you can handle your coursework and sub at the same time.

Shelby Robinson Shelby Robinson 1840 Points

I would agree that subs are treated differently but i think it would be good experience. I'm finishing up my final semester of student teaching and depending on if i get my own classroom in the spring, i may end up subbing for awhile but i think that'll be good practice for me!

Danielle Combs Danielle Combs 1785 Points

Being a sub is good experience to teach in front of the classroom, however, you will not have the experience of behind the scenes. You will not make the lesson plans, get the activities together, etc. That is the real struggle sometimes, the behind the scene stuff.

Sarah Garnett Sarah Garnett 3455 Points

I have signed up as a substitute teacher in the district I hope to eventually get a job. I too am still in school, but it has been a great opportunity so far. Subbing has allowed me to see how different schools in the district do things and it's gotten my name out there. I have seen a student teacher in their last phase get hired as a long term sub as soon as they graduated. She was then hired in the district in a full time position because the principals talk. The more you can get in a classroom and get your name out there the better.

Teresa Mendoza Teresa Mendoza 1530 Points

As current student teacher I went in with no subbing experience. If you do get some substitute experience then I believe you will go into student teaching with more confidence. If you have zero substituting experience you will be just fine. That's what your cooperating teacher is there for, you will learn a lot! It is different substituting and only seeing the students once than being in the classroom as a student teacher every day with the same students. The one thing that I do have to say is check with the district you plan on student teaching at. Some districts do not allow people to go onto their campuses without being hired on. So technically they hire you on as a substitute teacher in the district and then you are able to complete your student teaching at a school in that district. If your district does follow this rule and you are not already a substitute it will make the starting process longer (filling out paperwork, getting fingerprints, etc) to start student teaching.

Ruchi Sharma Ruchi Sharma 1290 Points

Depends how long are you subbing. If it is only a day or week project then students might get to you and behave differently whereas if you sub for a longer period like for a teacher who is off on a maternity leave then I think you do get the knee deep teaching experience which involves lot of other professional commitments like attendidng PLCs and other professional development meetings. Just my two cents.

Sarah Kim Sarah Kim 1415 Points

Absolutely! Any kind of practice is good practice. If you get the opportunity to be involved in a real classroom, you will be more prepared than just jumping in without any experience. It's like anything else: practice makes perfect, and a lack of practice is a set-up for failure. Make sure to be conscious during your experience in the classroom now and make recognize each moment as a learning opportunity.

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