Teachers Have a Very, Very, Very Hard Job.

So I have started my substitute teaching career.

Having worked as a one-on-one “home and hospital” teacher for the past few years, I was nervous about going into a school – and not being recognized as a parent. When I walk into a school as a substitute, I am just that: a substitute.

Parents always get great treatment.

But I’ve substituted a few times now, in different grades and positions, and I have been having a ton of fun. In fact, I’ve been clamoring for jobs on the computerized system almost every night. I am excited to be back in a work environment, and around the children. I am excited to have something to do besides plan my next college tour.

And already, I have learned a few things that I forgot when I was teaching (during the dark ages):

  1. Teachers have a very, very, very hard job. Keeping kids entertained for a single hour – especially a large group of kids – and educating them is nearly impossible. And teachers have to do just that for seven hours, five days a week! Substituting means that someone else has to think up “the plan” – how to entertain and educate the kids. This is, by far, the hardest part of the job – and I don’t have to do it. (This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the obscene amount of work they have to do after planning: grading, discipline, dealing with parents, staff, administrators and other teachers, and answering emails from helicopter parents like … well, like some parents.)
  2. Kindergarteners are cute, but teaching them is like herding goats. After only two weeks of substituting, I broadened my horizons from “only elementary school” to “elementary and middle school.” I like kids who are old enough to help me do what I need to do, like find the cafeteria and use the classroom technology.
  3. No matter what age I teach, I compare all the kids to my own. I can’t help but recommend occasional “exercise time” for the kids, given that Dylan needs exercise the way he needs air. And I can’t help but notice how many underappreciated kids there are, who make no waves and cause no distress, and get completely ignored. I give them special attention too, because of Shane.

I think substituting is going to be good for my parenting – and good for me, period. I need to work. Teaching one kid is very rewarding, and I intend to continue doing that. But being in the school, being reminded of what my kids have gone through … there’s something precious about that, too.



  1. Kirsten says:

    Thanks, Glenn! I will do my best to live up to that statement. 🙂

  2. Glenn says:

    It will also be good for the students who will be lucky to have you as a substitute teacher.

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