Substitute Teaching – The Pros and Cons

Substitute Teaching – The Pros and Cons

Having been on almost every side of teaching, I think I can now report on the Pros and Cons of Substitute Teaching.

I don’t promise to cover every detail, but I think I will cover the top 6 that come to mind.

Now I entered the teaching profession because I adored the teachers that changed my life and encouraged me to discover my passions.

But after transitioning my teaching career from Washington, DC to New York City, I experienced several personal and professional challenges that have ultimately led me to Substitute Teaching. I am also an entrepreneur with a strong disdain for authoritarian supervisors and a strong disgust for an educational system that is failing by design, and especially failing those that need it the most.

So, I also have the utmost respect for teachers and administrators that are out there in classrooms and schools holding the ceiling up, and making it work despite the challenges.

As a substitute teacher, I’m just there to implement your lesson plans and keep your classroom in order when you need a day off.

Now, with that being said, here are some advantages and disadvantages to Substitute Teaching.

1. Flexibility –

Set Your Schedule – You can set your own schedule. Most companies will want to see you commit to an average of 3 days a week or more. You are on call evenings usually 5 – 930pm, and then starting at 5am the next morning

You’re In Demand – Because this is a position, that a lot of teachers DON’T WANT to have, you are also in hot demand. They still require substitute teachers to be certified and licensed. Non-Public schools may be more lenient. Here’s the thing, once the substitute agency or school find out that you aren’t “defective,” you will further find yourself in hot demand.

(In some cases you won’t need a certification, but expect a paycut.)

Same School Sometimes – You may find that you get “assigned” to a school, or have a set 1-3 schools where you always “sub.” Schools STILL WANT to develop relationships and students still benefit from seeing familiar “subs”. In my situation, I am a “Guest Teacher” for a school district with 8 schools, but I only report to the high school, which I love.

2. Transition Job – Need an in-between job? Can’t BEAR to be at your current position another second (a.k.a. “Gone After Christmas” vibes?) Being pressured to “resign” or “quit”? With your teaching certificate, you will always be okay.

3. Less Stress – Not taking home grading, not planning lessons. ‘Nuff Said
Caveat: There are such things as “Permanent Subs,” or as one charter school organization cleverly calls it, “Teacher Force.” (lol, smh)

4. Cloak of Invisibility – Whose team are you on? Well, I remember the 8th grade team, the discipline team, the English Department team, the this team, the that team, because in education we over-dose on COLLABORATION, everyday. Guess whose team you are on if you are a sub? The Go-HOME-When-The-Bell-Rings Team. When problems arise, who will they point fingers at? Not the lil’ ol’ sub, no Sir-ree.

5. Other Opportunities Available – I’ve met some of the coolest people subbing, I’ve been able to travel to so many cool school environments, I’ve been able to learn so much… One door leads to the next. Awesome networking.

6. The Students – You realize that kids are kids, everywhere. You’ll start to notice patterns in behavior, you’ll feel like a champ. You get to be mean everyday (if you believe in “no smiling” until after Christmas.) For those of you who like to “form relationships” there is still opportunity. And you’ll have more energy to do so!

1. Less Pay – Don’t quote me, but I believe the DOE pays $168.54 – which is the highest around in these parts. You need a Principal to nominate you into the system.

2. Not Your Classroom – You won’t be doing any decorating or changing any bulletin boards. I know some of you get off on that, so, you’d be missing out on that.

3. Is This What I Got A Degree For? – Okay, some of you really crave “security.” Student loans, mortgage, kids — probably has you locked into a teaching position for life. That’s okay. Then subbing isn’t for you. BUT if you have a DREAM outside of teaching, you can pursue that DREAM while you substitute.

4. Where’s Home? – Again, with the “security” crave people have. You want to have a home-base, you want to go to the same place day in and day out. Subbing won’t necessarily be for you.

5. R-E-S-P-E-C-T – And the Teacher of the Year Award goes to….you probably won’t get any accolades as a sub. As a sub, people probably think you aren’t even a Teacher. I got BOGGLE eyes sometimes when people learn of my qualifications and realize I’m subbing. But I’m cool, because they don’t know I’ve been there, done that, don’t want the t-shirt. When I teach, I teach on my own terms. When my creativity isn’t being stifled and stamped out by data-charts and meetings. Don’t expect R-E-S-P-E-C-T from too many people. But you don’t need it — all you need is to respect yourself.

6. The Students – They’ll never be YOUR students, when you sub.

Some Substitute Info (I’ll add as I can think of more opportunities. If you are reading and you know of more opportunities, then please share!)

New York City – Sub Central –

School Professionals –
…..and & Hiring Agencies
i.e. GoodTemps –
i.e. Randstad –

Elite Educational Staffing

Catholic Schools

Diocese of Brooklyn

Long Island School Districts

Search Term “Substitute”.


Well, I spent a lot of time during my years of teaching putting everything on hold until July and August. You’d be surprised how many opportunities open up for you if you choose the Sub Life. When you aren’t stress or burned out, you might just find another way.


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