Several years ago, I was a kindergarten teacher. I spent my days imparting knowledge to 30 developing minds, practicing social skills and self-regulation, and instilling a love for learning. My free time was centered around planning, assessing, grading, and conferencing. All things considered, it was exhausting, yet rewarding work.
Once I had two children of my own, I struggled to balance my career and my personal life. Although I managed to teach through both my pregnancies, pump for an entire school year, and get my firstborn to and from daycare, I always felt spread too thin. I adored my students, but after my second daughter was born, I decided to leave the classroom. I told everyone, including myself, I’d go back to teaching when both of my kids were in grade school.
My main job title shifted to “stay-at-home mom” and my focus became intentional living and creating a simple, peaceful environment for my family. Although not earning a consistent paycheck is a sacrifice, I acknowledge that the option to primarily be home is a privilege. I am fortunate to have a partner who sees value in how I choose to spend my time and I am grateful for all of the flexibility that homemaking allows me.
Last year my youngest started kindergarten, but I surprised everyone around me by not looking for a job. I still didn’t feel ready for the demands of teaching full-time. After hearing about so many campuses being impacted by the teacher shortage, though, I figured I would contribute by becoming a substitute teacher. I could offer my educational experience and provide temporary relief to schools while my own kids were in school. It was a step back into a world I’m passionate about without the huge commitment.
So, I’m a Mom AND a Substitute Teacher!
Although I am authorized to be a substitute teacher for kindergarten through 12th grade, elementary is my happy place. Once I accept a job, the teacher provides me with a detailed schedule, lesson plans, and activities they hope I can accomplish while they’re gone. I’m truly expected to keep the students on track academically.
In addition to quickly becoming an expert in the grade or subject I’m instructing, I have to find ways to build connections and trust with every child in each class. I’ve been lucky not to encounter any serious behavior challenges, but I always walk into a room mentally prepared for all personalities and possibilities.
Now that I’ve been a substitute for almost a year, I’m unsure if a permanent placement is in the near future. I like that guest teaching allows me to interact with a variety of students and be a reliable, comforting figure when their teachers can’t be there.
Subbing is also great because I have the freedom to schedule when and where I work and I don’t have to stress about professional obligations outside of the school day. It’s easy to take days off, I can pick up my daughters right at dismissal, and I can be available to volunteer or chaperone with their classes.
I am extremely mindful of my priorities and how I allocate my energy. It’s difficult to say what the future holds, but right now, splitting my time between homemaking and substitute teaching is an ideal situation. I’m able to put plenty of attention toward my husband and kids while still making a difference in schools.