Saturday, January 12, 2019

Earning Money Substitute Teaching

As most of my readers know I earn money by substitute teaching, which is a job I've done over the past ten years. I also subbed when my daughter was an infant for a couple of years. 

If you're interested in earning money while substitute teaching than this article is for you. 

The first thing I did to start subbing was to visit the school district's (where I wanted to sub) central office. Each school district will have their own set of rules for hiring substitute teachers. 

Some school districts require only a high school diploma or GED. Others will require a Bachelor's Degree and/or teaching certificate. The district I work in required only a high school diploma when I started. 

Today they require a teaching certificate, but the district has a shortage of subs and have been known to be flexible on that issue. So, check with your school district as the rules have been known to change. 

For me, I had some paperwork to fill out and had to have a background check, which I paid for at the time. At the time I paid for mine back in 2003 it was $50, I'm not sure what they cost today. Sometimes the school district will reimburse you for this expense, but not always. It pays to ask about this. 

As far as subbing goes, I get called multiple times per week to sub. I've had multiple teachers ask for the same day especially when there is a county wide meeting. 

I've even been asked to cancel subbing jobs in favor of another teacher. And sometimes I've had teachers ask another teacher if they can trade another sub for me. In a case where I might work for them three days in a row or something similar. 

Substitute Teaching isn't simply walking into a classroom and showing a movie. In fact it's pretty rare that a movie is shown. It depends on the teacher as to what work the students will do each day. 

Some teachers want students to continue with the work they are currently doing in class and will leave assignments for that purpose.

Other teachers will leave  work the students are not working on in class, but are capable of doing as they do not want to interrupt their teaching process. 

And some teachers, especially ones who are sick or have an emergency, might not leave any plans, but that is very rare. Depending on the age, It's fun to have students write a story about "What happened to Mrs. Teacher?" in a case like that. 

Any time you are in doubt you can either buzz the office and ask or ask a teacher near your classroom. I've always found a friendly teacher next door to ask and answer questions. 

One rule of thumb, if you decide to sub, is not to let students get into the teacher's desk. Some children have a fascination with the teacher's desk and want to rifle through it. I always nip this behavior in the bud. 

You are working for that teacher and you want to protect his or her things, so keep students out of anything they have no business going through. 

Same thing goes for the teacher's classroom rules. If I had a nickel for everytime a student said to me, "but she's not here" I would be rich. I always tell students that we follow the teacher's rules even when they are not there. It demonstrates respect for their teacher. 

Another good rule is to always leave the room as clean as when you got there. Teachers are more likely to call you back if you take care of their things while they are away.

Another good rule of thumb is have some sort of classroom management. Students will pick up on this right away and try to get away with things they wouldn't do if their teacher were there. Nip this in the bud as soon as possible by taking  charge immediately. 

Teachers have planning periods, so you might have some down time. Sometimes the office may need you to fill in somewhere else, but that is not always the case. 

You can always bring some work to do during this time or bring something to read. I've done all sorts of things during this time. Reading, crossposting resale items, work on my blog, etc. 

At the end of the day leave a note for the teacher. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to sub in their place. Let them know how the day went and leave any names who were especially good and helpful and any who were misbehaving. 

If you're interested in subbing, The NEA - National Education Association has a state by state summary of substitute teacher requirements. 

And most of all have fun with your students - get to know them if you can. My area of subbing runs from 6th grade through 12th grade, so I've had the privilege of watching some of these children grow up into mature adults. 

~ Living within our Means ~


  1. I'm not at all surprised teachers want you back regularly - you sound really organized & like you bring a lot of discipline to the subbing process. Nice work! Both of my parents worked in a school (my dad was a teacher & my mom worked with kids who have speech delays) & have always said that a valuable/well regarded sub is worth their weight in gold!

  2. Thank you so much. I love subbing as I get to know the students and actually love helping them out whenever I can. Teaching, teaching aides, subbing, and just working at school can be a good job as their are schools in even the most remote locations. :)

  3. You are a very organized and caring teacher Belinda. I respect teachers a lot. It's not an easy job even when it's part time.

  4. Hi Belinda,
    I agree with Hawaii Planner---good substitute teachers are definitely worth their weight in gold. I am a high school teacher, so I know first hand how important good subs are. We have excellent ones at my school, and it feels good knowing that I am leaving my classes in good hands. From being a regular reader of your blog, I know that you are called on with great frequency to sub. That is great and says much about teachers knowing they can depend on you. If I worked in your district, I would want you in my classroom every time. Thank you for the good work you do in your district on behalf of your teachers.

    1. Awww...that is so sweet of you to say, Frances. I appreciate that. I would love to sub in your classroom if you were teaching in this district. :)

  5. I was the first sub in our district not to have a teaching certificate. I had two college degrees and I taught a dance team early in the morning. So I was at the school everyday at 6 a.m. and I left at 8 a.m. We had a flu epidemic go through and the principle came over to the gym and asked me to teach a class as they had n very few teachers and no subs left. I had my baby in a carrier. SO I called my eldest and told her to get the younger one on the bus. and the secretary and the principle watched the baby for the morning while I subbed. The next day I made arrangements for my girls and came in school teaching clothes not dance clothes. From then on I was almost full time and I still could be but I make more sewing for others so I only sub when there is a true emergency.

    1. That's a great story, Kim. It shows that they can be flexible when necessary. I know that's the case in our district. It's so great that you make enough money sewing to not need to sub. Having your own business is terrific.

  6. I learned from my dance instructing days to welcome a class I was subbing with words to the effect of "Miss Director asked me to fill in today, so things might be a little different. Obviously I am not Miss Director, so I am not going to be able to do things the way she does. I am going to do things my way. So, please don't waste your classmates' time and your parents' money saying 'That's not the way Miss Director does things' because, obviously, we all already know that." Recently, I showed up in a H.S. English class with one of my former dancers. I had to choke back a laugh when one actually mimicked me, and repeated those words to her friend who said "Miss English Teacher said we were going to get to do x,y,z this week."

    1. THat's a great way to start class, Meg. I'm LOL at your former dancers comments. Kids say the darndest things. LOL

  7. Through years of teaching, my subs were delightful. There was only one I never called again. I traded times with other teachers, too, when I could schedule a very early medical appointment. Whenever another teaching buddy needed me, I swapped my free time to sub for another class.

    Subs can make or break a classroom teacher. Being called repeatedly indicates you are appreciated. One of my adult kiddos in TX subs in good school district. Because of willingness to sub for the most needy, mentally disabled, there could be a daily sub call.

    There are subs better than the regular teacher, which DH experienced. He never expected classes's response to his subbing.

    Be yourself, Belinda, and your phone will continue to ring.

    1. THank you, Anna. I appreciate your wisdom and comments. :)

  8. I subbed for 5 years in a northern suburb of Minneapolis. I subbed almost entirely in one elementary school and could have worked almost every day if I wanted to. Going to one school made the job much easier. I knew the children and they knew me. Also my hours at the school were basically from 7:30-2:30. I made $116/day, so my hourly wage was pretty decent. I have a teaching degree (although I was not currently licensed in this state), but the district did require a bachelor's degree to substitute teach.

    1. That is a great rate of pay for subbing, Isabella. You wouldn't think schools need subs as much as they do, but it's that way here too. I love it when I know the children as it makes it so much easier.


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