We’re into the second week of school with students now and I’m, well, I’m back to being a substitute teacher. It’s a little surreal to be honest. I started working in this district almost 9 years ago. I did three years of supply teaching and a few long term jobs before landing my first contract position teaching Grade 5 almost six years ago and I’ve taught Grade 5 ever since. So being back to supply teaching is odd for a few reasons.
For one, I’m not used to being in a position where I need to work so hard to get work. Most supply teachers have business cards and they go around to all “their” schools, letting teachers and principals know that they’re on the list and what they’re able to teach. I haven’t done as much of that as maybe I should. Partially it’s because I’m still hoping that I’ll get hired for a contract job soon. Also, I just find it very difficult to do. Luckily, I have a wonderful group of friends around me that have been incredibly helpful. I’ve felt so thankful for their support. One day I posted about a job interview I had and I was amazed by how many people sent their well wishes. And then when I asked if people could add me to their lists on our supply teacher database, again, the response was heartening, including a friend who is not a teacher who set up a meeting for me at a school where I’ve never worked before. I don’t know what I would do without my friends. They’re amazing.
Supply teaching has changed a bit since I was a new teacher, doing my rounds. For one, business cards are a thing now. The first time I got one from a supply teacher as a classroom teacher I thought they were a little strange and over-eager, a little too Hermione Granger for my taste. Since then though, I’ve seen how useful they can be. When I know in advance that I want to take a day, it’s nice to have a contact for someone you’ve met.
Another big way that it’s changed is the new system that the district has adopted. It came in while I was a classroom teacher so I’m used to using it from the other side of things but from a supply teacher it’s all new to me. It took me a few days to figure out, for example, how to set my phone to accept phone calls without waking me up with notifications that someone had commented on something on facebook. I’m starting to get the hang of it, I think, though I haven’t managed to be the fastest acceptor of a job just yet. At the first of the year I expect that there are way too many supply teachers who are super eager, jumping at any blip from their phones over too few jobs because teachers are still relatively fresh from vacation and aren’t taking any PD days yet. Things will pick up soon I’m sure.
In the mean time, I have this bizarre extended summer so it’s not all bad. I am stressed about not having a job yet of course, but I’m getting better at distracting myself with good books, going for runs, working on our current musical that’s coming up in a few weeks, and thinking of ideas I’d like to try in my classroom when I get one. And I will get one. Don’t imagine I’m in despair and need to be comforted with reminders that something will come up eventually. I know it will. Things are tough right now. The education system is in flux and I’m one of the casualties for right now through no fault of my own. But I have my work clothes ready to go in the bathroom and a lunch in the fridge waiting just in case I get a call one of these mornings and all my classroom stuff in the basement waiting for when I get a classroom.