In discussing the limited certification options for nontraditional teachers in his state, substitute teacher Mr. Chips suggests one requirement that makes sense to him.

One thing I'd like to add to that is that I think substituting for one (1) year should also be mandatory for all new teachers regardless of age. No, this is not my way of getting back at everyone because of my sometimes great disgust with subbing. It's because I know of too many people who walked out of college and immediately got a full-time position without having to sub one single day while the rest of us have been toiling at it for a while. Substituting is like the hazing process before getting into the fraternity. It keeps you on your toes, it shows you that not all classes are peaches and cream, that not all kids are the same, but also teaches you to adapt. Going from school to school and at the different levels (elementary, middle and high) gives one a well-rounded peek at the whole of the district and not just one sector.

While Mr. Chips isn't likely to win any popularity contests among would-be teachers, the experience would certainly serve as a baptism by fire for many an unseasoned educator.


I have to say that I agree, substituting is a part of teaching that everyone should have to do for several reason. First of all, it gives one the feel for teaching (and whether you are even remotely cut out for it). Secondly,gives one the idea of an age group they are suited for, thirdly, how students treat their substitute (to prepare you for when you do begin to teach and how you don't want you substitute treated). Need I go on?

A substitute teacher is a journeyman teacher who becomes exposed to all grade levels, all types of schools and administrators, all types of bureacracies, and all types of children. A teacher who proves himself/herself successful in the face of these everyday challenges is definitely going to succeed as a regular classroom teacher and would be a cut above any candidate who seeks a job in my school. (I am an elementary school Vice Principal).

This sort of thought does not help. I am 54 years old, and I am in my second year of teaching (middle school). If I had to sub for a year with no health benefits, before I could actually teach I would not be in the profession. As a first year teacher I improved my students scores in reading from 77% to 84%. In a field with 50% turnover, and chronic shortages, it is counter productive to erect more obstacles to becoming a teacher. Rather a more positive and pro-active approach would be to improve teacher education, and assign the tougher assignments to experienced teachers. I teach three subjects (English, History, and Science) and I am one of the least experienced teachers in the building. I find the attitude of experienced teachers in some cases to be akin to the hazing remark. How juvenile!

Believe it or not, after subbing for six years, I decided to get my teaching certification. I had a four year degree, but not in teaching so I attended a very stringent alternative certification program to become certified in Special Education. I have been teaching seven years and have also, during that time period, earned a Masters of Education in Reading. I love teaching. I do agree that working as a sub prepares you better for the real world of teaching. If you truely love children, it won't be so much a deterrent as a reality check.

Good luck to all who meet the challenge of teaching, who treasure their students, and appreciate the abilities of all.

Mr. Lawrence is one of my very favorite bloggers, but here in NY, teachers are already required to do a year of student teaching.

Quite often, though, teachers sub while searching for jobs. Even if it were required, in my district they'd waive the requirement so as to increase the teaching pool and keep pay down.

The opportunity of substituting before teaching is a wonderful experience. I currently substitute and find it rewarding and definately keeps me on my toes - especially when the phone call is received that morning. I am currently attending school for more teaching certifications.

I am currently working on my initial teachers certification via an alternate route. My teacher education program requires that I serve in the local schools as a substitute teacher/intern for one full school year in addition to student teaching for 5 weeks. I can not even begin to tell you how valuable this experience has been. It has taught me more about myself and who I want to be as a teacher then any textbook ever could. I've learned more about the school that I am interning at then I would have by just student teaching alone. I feel I will be better prepared for any job I accept next year because I've experienced teaching a variety of students of different ages and backgrounds. I have better defined my classroom management strategies as well as my teaching philosophy since the program began. I would encourage anyone thinking of becoming a teacher to try substituting first.

Having been a substitute teacher and an educational technician for several years, I agree with what previous bloggers have said. However, in my case, it seems that I have essentially 'shot myself in the foot' by being good at what I do. I do several long term assignments per school year. In essence this means I go in as the teacher, no plans supplied, do the planning, evaluation, even the grades for the quarters.... all for sub pay. The superintendent has told others and me what a good job I do.. yet when an opening comes up, I am passed over. Would I get hired if I did a less efficient job as a sub? Who knows. It is very discouraging to say the least. Add to that that I must work 40 days to merit an increase in pay (per position long term). If a position ends on day 39 and I start another long term assignment the next day, it is back to day 1. Friends who are teachers do not understand why I have not been hired. Having come to education as a second career, I hope it's not due to age issues.

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