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Substitute Teaching: Side Job or Career Path?

Learn how substitute teaching fits with your goals.
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Substitutes Needed!

In the years following the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasing number of communities and schools that are struggling to recruit substitute teachers. Why is there a shortage, and why aren't more people taking advantage of this opportunity?

There are a number of misconceptions about substitute teaching that might keep people from getting started, but a closer look shows that it is a rewarding and profitable job that fits those interested in flexible, freelancer opportunities as well as those looking to enter a career in education.

Misconception: Substitute Teaching Is Not a "Real" Job

Anyone who has worked in education knows that this is false and grossly undervalues the work that substitute teachers do on a daily basis for schools and students. Substitutes are critical for the support of learning; teacher and staff absences are unavoidable, and substitutes step in to keep students safe and successful in their studies. Students come to know substitutes by name and build positive relationships like they do with their other teachers.

Substitute teachers are in real classrooms, supervising real students, facilitating real learning. Students, families, and school staff know the true value of substitutes and know that they are the unsung heroes that make a difference during times of critical need.

Misconception: Substitute Teaching Doesn't Pay Well

Those who actually look into substitute teaching quickly learn that the pays is very competitive. Districts or schools set their own pay rates, but substitute teachers are generally one of the highest-paid support positions in a school. Substitute pay may be an hourly rate or may be a set rate by day. At the lowest, substitutes earn about $130 per day, and at the high end, schools pay over $200 per day!

Many schools offer higher rates for substitute teachers with college education; schools may also offer higher substitute teacher pay for long-term positions, such as when a staff member is out for medical recovery or maternity leave. With the increasing need of schools post-pandemic, substitute pay continues to increase each year.

Best of all, Senya gets you even higher substitute teacher pay through its bonus program––the more substitute jobs that you complete throughout a month, the more you get paid! This pushes substitute pay far beyond the average, and it is not surprising that many people shift to make substitute teaching the primary part of their freelance work!

Misconception: I'm Not Qualified to Be a Substitute

The truth is that it has never been easier to become a substitute teacher! The minimum requirement in most states is a high school diploma or GED and a fingerprint background check. The Senya platform walks you through the process for your state, making it easy for you to qualify and access opportunities on the platform.

If you don't have any previous experience with substitute teaching jobs, that's okay! The most important quality for a substitute teacher is a desire and passion to help students. The Senya platform provides resources for you to learn about important topics and skills in substitute teaching, such as classroom management, teaching strategies, and special education. You can go into classrooms prepared and confident, ready to help students be successful learners.

Misconception: Students Treat Substitutes Badly

It is true that changes in routines, such as having a substitute, can be a challenge for some students. However, most students want class to be a normal day, and a kind but confident substitute can shape positive student behavior from the start by upholding classroom expectations. Unfortunately, negative stories are the ones that tend to make local and national news, giving a skewed perspective about schools and students today. The truth is that the majority of students want to learn and are responsive to caring adults who make learning engaging. Every day, teachers, staff––and yes, substitutes––are experiencing fun and powerful moments with students.

Substitutes will encounter negative student behaviors just as teachers do, but substitutes can utilize positive classroom management strategies just as teachers do. The Senya platform has many resources around behavior management and teaching strategies. And in every school, substitutes can turn to school staff and administrators for support for difficult situations. Overall, however, you will see for yourself that students are overwhelmingly welcoming toward substitutes and are enjoyable to work with.

Subbing as a Side Job

For some people, substitute teaching is the ideal freelance work, perhaps as a side job or a way to earn extra income for a time. Substitute teaching as a freelancer allows you to set your own schedule, taking as many or few jobs as desired. Some people substitute teach during the day and work evening shifts at another job. College students often substitute on the days they don't have classes. Some parents and caregivers enter substitute teaching once all their kids attend school. Some people enter substitute teaching as a way to gain experience or to see if they are interested in pursuing a career in education.

Whatever your circumstance, if you are looking for a rewarding, flexible job, substitute teaching is a great option. Senya facilitates weekly pay for jobs that are arranged through the platform, so you are able to see that income quickly to meet your needs.

Turning Subbing into a Career

For some people, the rewards and pay of substitute teaching lead them to take on bigger job opportunities, such as when teachers are out for surgery or maternity leave. This is especially common for substitutes who build relationships at a few campuses, and those schools want them back again and again.

This, in turn, often leads to substitutes getting hired on as permanent staff at a school where they subbed. Schools are not only dealing with substitute shortages but also staff shortages, and when they see professional, reliable, friendly substitutes, they often extend offers for permanent positions.

For those interested in a future career in education, whether working toward a teaching degree or interested in a support position, substitute teaching is a great way to build your network and gain experience. If you have an idea of a school or two where you would especially like to get hired, you can set your notifications on the Senya app so that you get immediate alerts when substitute jobs open at those locations. In this way, you can really build a connection with those campuses, and when a permanent position opens at some point, you will already be well-known to the staff, students, and administration.

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