Is Substitute Teaching Work Camping?

This post is written by Diana.

As you have read about Jim’s job at UPS this winter, I’m guessing more than a few have wondered if I’m been just sitting around eating Bon Bons and watching soap operas. Well I admit, I did go to the beach a couple of days.

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However, the majority of my time was spent applying to be a substitute teacher. Working with the Junior Ranger Program at Oregon State Parks this summer reminded me of how much I love kids and teaching. Jim and I have often commented about the nice elementary school near us as we have biked by it many times the last couple of years. Why not see if I could substitute teach there?

It took almost two months of work to complete the many requirements to get approved. I had to complete layers of information online, have official copies of my transcripts ($10) sent from the colleges where I earned my degrees, get a recommendation form completed by each of the five places I have worked the last ten years, and apply for the county to accept my Michigan teaching certificate for substitute teaching ($25). Brevard County Schools do not require you to have a certificate, but they do pay more if you have one. The highest rate for substitute teaching goes to retired teachers, so I also had to get a letter from the district I retired from in Michigan. In addition, I had to set up an account for direct deposit of my paychecks. Many times during this process, I wished I had more of my official documentation that is back in our storage room.

Once all of the above was completed, I was cleared to set up an interview with an administrator of our local elementary. This was a full interview with the assistant principal where I was given different classroom and discipline scenarios and asked how I would respond to them. I haven’t taught in 3 1/2 years, so some of my answers referred to my more recent experiences as an interpretive host. Luckily the interview went very well and they forwarded their approval on to the county. The elementary that seemed so nice on the outside, was even warmer and friendlier on the inside. I was getting excited!

The next hoops to jump through were drug testing ($30), finger printing, and a background check ($50). I received official notification that I was approved just before the students went on Christmas break. This gave me time to set up the online program for signing up for open substitute positions, as well as the online portal to see my pay account. In addition, there were many pages of information to read regarding school policy and procedures for substitute teachers. One packet alone was over 35 pages.

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When school resumed January 8th, I was ready to go. The county has an automated program that calls with offers of substitute positions the evening before from 5-8 pm, and again from 5:30 to the start of school in the morning. I can also search online for openings in the four elementary schools that I selected. However, most positions are filled before they are ever available to the general pool of subs. The secretaries and teachers like to assign their favorite subs and only post openings online as a last resort. I get it, I was the same way. Therefore, it takes a while to build up your reputation.

I have worked three days so far. Of course we took off one week to go to the Tampa RV show, so this is only the beginning of the third week I have been available. The first day I subbed was a blast! I was called by the secretary the night before, so it was nice that it wasn’t the morning of. It was a sixth grade position and I taught science and social studies. I was nervous that morning, but with 30-plus years of experience it all came back to me rather quickly. I was able to teach the level and subjects that I love, and then go home at the end of the day. I felt a little guilty watching the other teachers stay to grade papers, make lesson plans, and contact parents. Well not that guilty, I paid my dues. 🙂  The other two days were more supervision than teaching, which is fine but not nearly as much fun. It’s still a treat to be around the kids though. They do have a way of keeping you young and up on the latest trends.

A general definition of work camping is any job you are doing while camping. So yes, I consider substitute teaching work camping. As a retired teacher the rate of $16.25 per hour is on the high end of work camping jobs, but of course they don’t pay for our campsite. I like that it allows you to be flexible and block out days when you may have other plans. Being ready early every morning for a call that might not come, is definitely one of the down sides. I am also concerned about staying healthy, especially with the flu that is currently going around. I will let you know how things go. One nice thing is if I sub five days this school year, I do not have to reapply for next year.

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If anyone has a good gluten-free recipe for Bon Bons, I’ve got some free time for baking. – Jim

34 thoughts on “Is Substitute Teaching Work Camping?”

      1. Last Friday one of the schools had two substitute positions they weren’t able to fill. They divided the students from those classrooms among the other teachers. Ugh!

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    1. Yes, it feels good to get back in the classroom. I can remember my mom using that saying as a joke when she was exhausted at the end of the day. She sure never sat down much. I never saw her eat a Bon Bon. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Linda! Jim and I like working together, so having different schedules has been interesting. If I start right away in Nov., it will overlap Jim’s job with UPS. Hmmm, we’ll have to think about that one.

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  1. John and I knew we would have subbing to fall back on if we ever needed it since both of us were educators. I subbed for awhile before returning to full time work after being home with the kids for ten years. I loved being able to put my own spin on the plans someone else made. And not bring work home or having to deal with parents was a win, for sure. Enjoy your time. You’ll have to write another post and left us know how it is going:)

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    1. I subbed when we were first married. One of my favorite days was subbing for high school boys’ gym class. It was a beautiful fall day and they played flag football. Luckily they all got along, because I’m not sure what 24 year old me would have done if they didn’t. 😀

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  2. Great post Diana! It’s amazing the amount of paperwork and out of pocket expenses there are these days – before the interview! I’m not surprised they took you right away 🙂 Training others was the favorite part of my job and I can hear how delighted you are at getting the opportunity to teach kids again. Definitely let us know how it goes!!

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    1. I was surprised there were so many requirements to getting hired, Dan. Might explain the shortage of substitute teachers. On the other hand I get that they need to be careful. It’s fun to be back teaching!

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  3. That was a wonderful post!! You should definitely guest post more. I am really surprised but how much paperwork there was. I’m glad of course for the kids but it’s a shame there isn’t a national registry of sorts. Still if you always winter I the same place what a great way to pick up some extra money and of course you can’t put a price on doing something you love. Really happy for you!

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    1. I really enjoyed working with the Junior Ranger program at Oregon State Parks this summer, Shawn. The focus of the state park was having fun on the reservoir, so families that took the time to come to the nature center etc., were really interested.

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