, , | NC, USA | Learning | May 23, 2017

One day, while in fifth grade, we have a substitute teacher. She gets through most of the morning okay, although she misspells at least one word every time she copies our teacher’s instructions onto the whiteboard. But then lunchtime rolls around.

At our school, there are multiple half-hour lunch periods, staggered at 15-minute intervals, and each class is assigned three lunches. Our class has the 12 pm, 12:15, and 12:30 lunch times, which we get to pick at the beginning of each day, and the rest of the 12-1 lunch block we can get out games and crafts and socialize.

Our substitute teacher doesn’t believe us about lunch. She tries to make all of us go at once, which would make the hall monitors and cafeteria workers angry. We try explaining it to her, and  show her the popsicle sticks with names and how they fit into slots on the lunch board on the wall, but she just grows more and more unreasonable.

Finally, she tells one side of the classroom to go to lunch, my side of the room to read silently, and tells anyone who objects to shut up. We cautiously pull out books from our desks and the bookshelves, while the substitute sits down at the teacher’s desk and glares at her written instructions. After only a minute, she lets out a frustrated “UGH!”, gets up, and leaves the classroom without a word.

When she doesn’t return a few minutes later, our half of the class decides that the best thing is to tell the principal what is going on. All fifteen of us walk together into the front office, much to the surprise of the school’s secretary, and explain what has happened.

Turned out, our substitute teacher had left the school, gotten into her car, and driven away without a single word to anybody. Our principal called up the school system headquarters and the substitute was blacklisted from ever teaching in the county again. We were told that we weren’t in any trouble, and one of the guidance counselors acted as our teacher for the remaining three hours of school.

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  • Nora Miller

    “It’s all about me!” It wasn’t, so she left.

    • Leah

      No teacher I have ever met thinks it’s all about them. What she did was totally wrong but let’s be honest, that one incident is not the reason she left. Clearly something else was going on.

      • Michelle

        She was a substitute not a teacher. I am a teacher and I have other duties on campus that occassionally require me to get a sub but still be on property. I have walked in to find my sub asleep, reading the paper, shopping online, and multiple other things they should not have been doing.

      • snowgarden

        Yeah, a substitute isn’t a teacher. It sounds like the lunch instructions were left by the actual teacher, subby read it after making a fool of herself and left rather than admit she was wrong.

        • Dana Corby

          Oh, yes they are! My dear friend is a certified teacher who subs. When she’s in the classroom, the kids work from the lesson plan and school procedures are followed.

          • Kevin Moore

            Some are certified. Some are not. It depends on where you are. I’ve lived in places that have one or the other.

          • Gnomer Denois

            I think our school district now has both. Subs with teaching certificates (usually retired teachers) make one level of pay and those without make a different level of pay.

          • video slacker

            My brother-in-law is a Superintendent. In his district, anyone with a bachelors degree in anything can sign up to be a Sub.

          • Where I live you just have to have 90 college credits.

        • Nikki Blight

          Many subs ARE certified teachers (a lot of retired teachers will sub for extra income when they need it). But, depending on the state law, many are not. Some states let you substitute if you have a bachelor’s degree… others require you pass a training course in addition to having a degree, and still others require a current teaching certificate.

          So you really can’t make a blanket statement like “a substitute isn’t a teacher”. It’s patently false. Most subs do have at least some teaching experience (and some may have more experience than the regular teacher for the class).

          There are bad subs just like there are bad teachers.

        • Leah

          I guess it depends where you live, but where I live, you definitely have to be a registered teacher in order to be a sub.

      • Donnell Hanog

        I’ve met a couple.

      • Pisces

        That doesn’t excuse her from being a Bitch and abandoning her class

        • Leah

          Did I say it does? No.

  • StarWarsEUIsCanon

    Why only one county? Shouldn’t there be a broader blacklist?

    • Lou Miller

      They may only have so much authority. A broader blacklist may need to be escalated and reviewed and that decision may not be told to the original county because it’s out of their jurisdiction.

    • Jaxad0127

      It probably was passed to the State education department. But as Lou says, a single district can only do so much (and in much of the US school districts are at the county, or equivalent, level).

    • Carrie

      Also, it may be enough. If you get black balled from LAUSD, you’re not subbing again unless you’re willing to put in a VERY long commute seeing as how big it is.

  • Amy Susan Fisher

    Isn’t it incumbent upon substitutes to learn how things are done at the school they’re assigned to, instead of insisting on doing things “their way”? After all, they’re hired as substitutes, not permanent replacements.

    • ShadeTail

      Yes, that is a big part of a sub’s responsibility. When I did subbing, I took that responsibility pretty seriously. I made sure I understood how a class worked, particularly if it was a non-standard class like Journalism or Drama.

      I once subbed a class I don’t remember the title of, where it was the kids in the student government doing their responsibilities to keep things running (daily announcements, etc.). The regular teacher left very detailed notes on how the class worked, basically that the kids were in charge of stuff and my job was to just sit there and make sure they didn’t burn down the building or something. I was pretty happy to get such detail in the teacher’s notes. And then just before the starting bell rang, the student-in-charge told me that the reason for all that detail was their last sub had an angry meltdown at the start of class when several of the students just walked out of the classroom to go do their jobs.

      I got a good laugh out of the class when I referenced that incident before turning them loose.

    • Novelista

      Back when I was in school (my, how things have changed in thirteen years!), they didn’t give a crap and generally sat and read the paper and watched the world go by.

      Which is why (at some point after 2004), they switched to a company called EDUStaff that requires you to not only have the 90 college credits, but a temporary teaching cert.

      (My mother–who is a know-it-all and thinks she knows everything about every industry has told me for years that I should sub. When I brought up that you had to be certified now? “It wasn’t that way when I taught!” And the last time you subbed was when I was 11, while you were trying to get a regular job. *facepalm*)

      • RallyLock

        You’re from Michigan, then. I substitute-taught in Michigan for most of one school year. Even with my full Minnesota teaching license, I still had to sit through all of the EDUStaff training programs.

        • Novelista

          Bet it makes the previous slackers wash out real quick! What kind of classes did you have to take?

          • RallyLock

            A lot of the training was just online seminars – watch a 45-minute long video on a school-based topic and then pass a 5- or 10-question quiz on the video. I can’t remember every video off the top of my head, but I know there was one on blood-borne pathogens (i.e. what to do if a student gets a bloody nose or vomits in class), one on sexual assault/harassment (i.e. what to do if you see a male student aggressively trying to kiss his girlfriend when she clearly doesn’t want to kiss), and a few others.

            There was one 2-hour long in-person seminar, talking about being a “professional” substitute (appropriate dress, appropriate conduct with students and other staff, etc), but everything else was online.

  • Reyos Blackwood

    Blacklisted? Walking out on a class like that should have lost her license to teach.

    • Zetal47

      Substitute teachers usually don’t need to have a teaching license. A lot of places you don’t even need a degree. They’re basically glorified babysitters who don’t get paid nearly as well as an actual babysitter would be for the same amount of time/kids.

      • Nic

        Huh, I did not know that about the US. In the UK, every teacher has to be qualified; the only difference between regular teachers and subs is that the subs tend to be either people who’ve signed on to an agency because they’ve had no luck getting a full-time teaching post, or they enjoy the variety and the flexibility.

        • Laren Dowling

          Depends on where you are. Some states require a bachelors degree (although they don’t care what you majored in). Others require a degree and a teaching certificate. Some just require the certificate, or a teaching course. And others require a degree in either education or the field you’re teaching. It varies from state-to-state, and even district to district.
          My mom used to sub when I was little; she has an associates degree in radiology.

        • Catherine Newell

          Not every teacher has to be qualified in the UK. Those who teach in Academies or Free Schools don’t, even if they’re regular teachers.

          At my secondary school, instead of substitute teachers we had “cover supervisors” who just hand out a worksheet and then read their book/watch football on the teacher’s computer. They definitely weren’t qualified teachers, I’m not sure if they all had degrees or not.

      • Elizabeth Basala

        Yeah, it varies by state what the requirements are. I’m a substitute teacher in Michigan and all that’s required here is 90 credits in anything from any 4-year university and a brief orientation by the staffing company that manages the substitutes. Some subs are certified teachers, either recent graduates who haven’t been able to get a permanent position yet or retired teachers who want to bring in a little extra money or just still enjoy spending time in classrooms. Other subs are completely unqualified.

    • Connie McFadden

      Blacklisting her county-wide probably put an end to her career as a substitute teacher since there’s a good chance other counties in the state will not employ her either.

  • godzillahomer

    And yet another county Peggy Hill is banned from teaching in…

  • Max

    Not sure how old fifth grade is (10?) but it sounds like the teacher was acting like they were in preschool here.

    • Laren Dowling

      Generally 10/11-year-olds. Old enough to follow directions, but still too young to have hit the teenage rebellious phase.

  • Donnell Hanog

    Reminds me of a sub we had in 10th grade. Thought she knew it all, refused to believe my asthma was acting up, and actively encouraged the destruction of hours of Student Council’s work because she apparently was never made aware that the teacher she was subbing for both taught history and ran Student Council and decided that the banners for the upcoming (at the time) pep rally could be freely destroyed because “This isn’t an art class!”. Even the teacher she was subbing for hated her.

  • Pisces

    If this is how she reacts to fifth graders following school rules, I hate to see how she would react to fifth graders breaking rules or really first graders doing anything

  • Andrew Thorne

    Why did she not check with the school about how breaks/lunches are handled?

    Why did she leave without saying anything?

    • Celoptra

      because she didn’t want the school to know she failed the teacher’s instructions or something among those lines

  • Crystal Lee Owens

    So she read the instructions after being an asshole then bailed? Keepin’ it classy.

  • If she was put in charge of a large group of children, wouldn’t just leaving them all unattended that way count as some degree of neglect? Could she be brought up on charges for that?

  • Sionyx

    When I was subbing the person showing me to the classroom in the morning told me the basics of how the school worked. This included how lunch periods worked. Even IF this woman wasn’t told how things worked at this school, there are other adults in the building to talk to. The “risk” of kids taking advantage of the sub does not justify abandoning one’s job!

    • RallyLock

      This has been my approach as a sub. I have my full-time teaching license, but haven’t been able to find a full-time job yet. I’m also subbing in my hometown, for most of the same teachers that I had when I was in school. Even then, school policies and individual teachers can change over time, so if in doubt, ask!

  • Denton Young

    She just up and quit? Walked off the job site at lunch? She’s gonna have a hard time holding down ANY kind of a job, teaching or not, with that kind of attitude.

    • RallyLock

      Not sure if this is the case in this particular story, but a lot (probably a fair majority) of substitute teachers are retired, and just sub a few days a week to supplement their retirement benefits/pension. So it is possible that this woman doesn’t really NEED to worry about holding down a regular job anymore.

  • I had one teacher in middle school who would assign the exact same busywork every time we had a sub. It was from one of the middle chapters of the book. Same teacher would be up to fifteen minutes late for class, and sent one guy to ISS every day because the kid reached through the broken window on the classroom door (it had been broken for weeks) and had just gotten the door unlocked when teacher showed up. We were all tired of being bitched at by the other teachers for standing around every day…

  • Nevyn

    I certainly hope noone but the “teacher” got into trouble since the children did absolutely nothing wrong. Quite the opposite im fact.