Part One: The Process of Becoming a Substitute
Whitney M. Jashinski
Even teachers need to take a day off sometimes. Inevitably, they will get too sick to work, or have a family emergency, or need to take a day off for training. When that happens, they need to call upon a trustworthy substitute teacher to take their place for the day. That is where you can come in.
As a substitute, you get the flexibility of working when you want/need to, and also the ability to take time off to do your field placement. It gets your foot in the door, because you can meet the principals and other staff members of a school. Also, you hear about possible long-term openings faster if you are already a sub in the building.
In order to become a sub, try the following steps:
Step One – Look up the subbing requirements in the district(s) in which you wish to substitute
Often, a school district’s website provides this information. Usually, this entails a subbing license (see step 3) and an application (step 2). In central Ohio, the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio represents many districts, from which substitutes can choose to work. In order to substitute in the state of Ohio, for example, you need a Bachelor’s degree.
Step Two –Apply for substitute training or fill out the substitute packet for the district(s) in which you wish to work
On their website, the ESCCO provides a packet for all new substitutes to fill out. The packet includes an application for a subbing license (step 3) and information about training. Most districts will require new substitutes to complete some form of training. For the ESCCO, this is a one-day crash course on the basics. It provides brand new teachers with some tips and tools for teaching in a new classroom, especially for only one day at a time. Also, this allows new substitutes to ask questions and to have them answered by professionals.
Step Three – Apply for a sub license with the department of education in your state
The Ohio Department of Education offers both 1 and 5-year subbing licenses. If you wish to sub for just one school year, get a one-year subbing license. If you wish to just substitute part time for a long period of time (e.g., while you are working on your MA TESOL), get a 5-year subbing license, which will remain valid until you get your actual teaching license.
Step Four – Get fingerprinted
This sounds scary, and like a violation of privacy, but in order to work with children, you need to have a background check every year you work with kids. In Ohio, there are two required: BCII and FBI. Get them both done at the ESCCO or another fingerprinting center. Then have the fingerprint results sent to you in a PDF, which you can then print out for other jobs later.
Step Five – Sign up for a subbing job
Once all this is completed, you will be given login information for Aesop, a substitute management system. You can log in and view the jobs in the districts you have signed up for. There is a lot of flexibility here: age/grade of students, subject matter, start and end times. If you are lucky, you can choose from multiple jobs every day, and pick what works best for you.
Hopefully these five steps will help you to navigate the intimidating process of substitute teaching. Though the process is daunting, it is well worth the work you put into it, and can lead to happy teaching experiences for all!
Stay tuned for Part Two: Tips of the Trade, where I will offer words of wisdom to new substitutes.