Surprising facts you never knew about substitute teachers


The substitute teacher plays a highly underrated role in many countries’ education system. These men and women ensure that our children never miss a day of school when their regular teachers are ill, on maternity leave, or have some important personal tasks to tend to. But what does it take to be a substitute teacher? Who is best suited for the role? And what is it like for them being in a different classroom every day? Today we are exploring several things you never knew about substitute teachers.

The early bird lands the jobs

Being a substitute means that they are not employed by any specific school and are essentially freelancers to the schooling system. These teachers start getting phone calls and emails from as early as five am for job requests on any given day. Sleeping in late for a substitute teacher means possibly missing out on a job for the day. And when working on a no work equals no pay system, that’s a tough pill to swallow.

Surprising facts you never knew about substitute teachers

Payless school holidays

No work equals no pay, that also means that school holidays can directly translate to possible financial problems. These teachers need to be good at planning on several levels, not just their schedule, but also their finances as well in anticipation of school holidays.

Maternity leave is a bonus

These teachers feel like they have struck gold when they are filling in for someone on maternity leave. This means that they will have at least 12 weeks of guaranteed work. This is a major bonus for a freelancing teacher.

They can juggle jobs

Substitute teachers are usually in this job and not a permanent position because they have other passions that they are trying to pursue in life. Trying to break into the acting scene, writing a book, or focusing on art are often not very profitable to begin with but do take up a lot of time. Subbing at schools in between these passions is what pays the bills. Other substitute teachers also include retired teachers who still want to work the occasional day here and there and students who study part-time but still need to make a living.

Surprising facts you never knew about substitute teachers

They have their own day

The third of November is the annual Substitute Educators Day for the U.S. It was established by the National Education Association to support these teachers in their fight for health benefits, fair wages, and professional development, as well as bringing general awareness to the fantastic work that substitute teachers do.

Tricks of the trade

Being in a new school just about every day means that these teachers will have mastered some serious skills. They have tried and trusted methods to quickly and easily learn the student’s names with tricks like seating charts and mnemonic devices. They have a keen eye for quickly picking up on who the troublemakers in the class are and will swiftly deal with inappropriate behavior. This is especially important as these students will want to test their boundaries with the new teacher, usually on the first day.

It certainly does take a special kind of person who can walk into the unknown every day and masterfully conduct a classroom of 30 children without flinching. We see your courageous efforts, dear substitutes, and we thank you.