A Day in the Life of a Teacher by Tony Piraino

I've always enjoyed helping in the classroom whether it be teaching financial principles through Junior Achievement, being a guest judge for science projects, or just reading a book to the class. I never considered the possibility of being a substitute teacher until this past Fall. As a member of the Cerro Gordo school board, I hear first hand from our administrators how hard it is to find full time teachers and substitute teachers. During a school board meeting in November, one of the principals half jokingly suggested that he could add me to his list of substitute teachers now that I have a more flexible work schedule as a REALTOR. After we had a good laugh about it, we discussed that anyone with an associates degree or 60 hours of completed college coursework is eligible for a substitute teaching license. On the drive home, I thought about it more and decided that I would get my license and help in the class as my schedule allows. That evening, I did some research and got the process started. This would be a good way to get a better understanding/appreciation of what our teachers do and what challenges they have in their jobs. The added bonus was that I'd also get to see my kids at school!  
My first sub teaching job was a full day for my son's 3rd grade class. It was a great day!  Not only did his teacher have the entire day's plan laid out for me, but all of the other teachers and students were a great help and very kind. My son seemed pretty happy to have me in his class for the day.  That probably won't be the case once he gets a little older. i'm used to putting 10-12 hours a day in as a REALTOR, but I was completely wiped out after just 7 or so hours as a sub teacher.  It takes a lot out of you trying to juggle everything all day long and I didn't even have to grade papers or come up with the next day's lesson plans.  It was pretty clear to me that teachers don't get enough credit for the extra time they put in outside of the class room.  Something I personally find challenging is that there is very little interaction with other adults throughout the day.  One of the things I love about real estate is that I'm always on the move and meeting with new adults.
A close friend of mine suggested that I substitute at all of the area schools, not just Cerro Gordo. I loved this idea because it was a good way to learn about more of the schools in the Greater Decatur area. I'm talking to buyers and sellers about schools all the time, so it is helpful to have actually been in more of the classrooms.  To that end, I got on the substitute teaching lists for all of the schools and wow!  As if my phone wasn't busy enough with real estate, now I get multiple messages a day asking to fill a need at various schools. One similarity that this has to real estate is we get a lot of last minute requests to see houses. Sometimes my calendar allows this, sometimes not.  Similarly, schools have last minute substitute teaching needs come up every day because teachers unexpectedly get sick like the rest of us. The difference is that I can sometimes show a house last minute, but I never have a completely appointment free day where I can fill in last minute. I always feel bad telling the schools no, but I try to let them know if there is a sub teaching need they know of in advance (like a teacher vacation or seminar), I can keep that day free on my calendar to help. That was the case when I took my second substitute job at Maroa Forsyth junior high. They knew a couple weeks in advance that their JH english teacher would be away for the day and asked if I could fill in.  It was perfect because it was only a half day of school that day!  It was another great experience with really good kids, but I was wiped out even after a half day!
One thing is clear to me after helping in the classroom from time to time over the last 10 years - I am not a teacher.  It takes a special type of person to be a good teacher.  While I'm glad to help out on a very very short term basis, I'll leave the long term education of our children in the hands of trained professionals!  

If you have an associates degree or 60 hours of college coursework you should consider getting your sub teaching license too and helping out at one of your local schools.  Trust me - the need is great!  If you wanted to you could probably be a sub every day.  Most of the schools in the area pay around $100/day.  I personally have decided that I'm going to use that money to bring in cookies for the teachers and donate the rest back to the school's PTA.

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