Friday, September 3, 2010

Consider me oriented

I just got home from orientation to my new sub pool. Who knew there even were such things as new hire orientations for substitute teachers? Apparently this CMO (that's charter management organization, and yes! I finally have a name for it!) has higher standards for its teachers, students, and substitutes. I went to the orientation more than a little skeptical, but that was kind of a waste of perfectly good cynicism. Here's what I found out.

First, my new CMO fills its sub pool only with candidates it would consider hiring into full time teaching positions, or candidates it considers "highly qualified". My chances of getting hired by them are significantly increased now IF I do a good job subbing, and of course if there are any openings that I am available for this year or next.

In the room with me were about 20 new sub hires and we were told point blank to consider ourselves "lucky and at-will" because there hundreds of other applicants. Apparently we are evaluated each time we sub and one negative eval will get us kicked off the island. Also when we sub we are treated like normal teachers, which means if a teacher was scheduled for a walk-through with feedback that day, we'll get it instead, including feedback on our teaching. I know feedback is important for improvement, and I don't disagree with this idea in principal, but dang. The no-nonsense attitude is going to take some getting used to. Also what happens if I sub for someone who just doesn't like me or if I just have a bad day? Seems a little harsh. On the other hand, I cannot tell you how often I'm completely infuriated at systems that allow people who suck at their jobs to keep working. For once in my life, my opinion is not yet formed on this issue.

Of the 20ish people in the room, it sickens me to think about how many of them had several years of classroom teaching experience. We have perfectly good teachers with experience, and they aren't in a classroom right now? Many were coming from local districts that had laid them off and wanted to offer them less the $100/day to sub. Almost all were full credentialed like myself. Welcome to the recession.

Aside from putting a fire under my butt regarding principal walk-throughs and impromptu evals, I really wholeheartedly found myself agreeing with the charter's mission and pedagogy. And I don't think it was just because I need a job and want to like where I'm working either. Maybe I'm a sucker for a powerpoint with good graphic organizers, but I found the whole orienting process a welcoming, positive, and meaningful experience. Most of all, I feel like it was time well spent. Obviously subbing at this CMO will not be the same as subbing in Small Town, USA so I'm glad someone took the time to outline the differences for me.

Some of the things that are different about subbing for this CMO:
-I'm welcome at all of their professional development activities (not paid, but I can add to my resume and more importantly, improve my teaching)
-Depending on the school, I'm welcome at their staff meetings (extremely rare)
-My pay is $35/day more than in Small Town, USA.
-I'm encouraged to volunteer and observe on days that I don't sub. It's like... they actually want me to be a better teacher.
-I have to wear dress clothes. No more jeans like in Small Town, USA, not even if I pair them with a blouse. If you know me in real life, you know I live in jeans.
-I can get direct deposit, but there is no centralized sub line or sub coordinator. Give and take, eh?

So now the only thing standing in my way between getting those first calls is a TB clearance, so I will have to wait at least another week. In the meantime, it's shopping, college football, and enjoying what looks like the end of summer and the end of my "unemployment".


  1. That's awesome that your subpool has such high standards! If you start teaching in that district/group in the future, that will be such a perk. I can't tell you how awful/unqualified some of the subs we see in my building are! It's enough to make me come to work sick rather than leave my kiddos with someone who doesn't know what they're doing!

  2. Yeah I definitely think in general it's good to have good subs. Teachers are better teachers if they can take their sick days and know it's not a lost day of instruction and know their kids are still learning in a safe, respectful and positive environment.

    But it still kills me to think of how many people USED to have classrooms but have since been laid off and now are subbing. But I don't have a solution either...

  3. You are right, it is horrible thinking about the number of classroom-less teachers out there...don't give up your job search!! Hopefully this district will snatch you up for a full-time position once they see what a great sub you are! :)