3 Reasons You Should Sub Before Becoming (or While Studying to Be) a Teacher

I actually took this path myself many years ago. I already had a Bachelor’s degree and years of experience in my first career path, social work, where I did a lot of teaching related things: developed program manuals for the kids activities with the youth I worked with, created staff training manuals, facilitated life skills groups, etc.

I’d decided I might like to teach and was getting ready to apply for the “Transitions to Teaching” program in our county’s public schools, the alternative teaching certification program.

I don’t remember if it was my idea or not, it might well have been suggested in the cert program prep materials:  get some related experience as a substitute along the way. I’m SO glad I did.

3 Reasons to Be a Substitute Before Becoming a Teacher


Here’s what I learned by subbing before becoming a classroom teacher:


1. YOU GAIN SUPER VALUABLE EXPERIENCE! This has multiple benefits:

    1. Learning/practicing classroom management skills (especially behavioral management skills since subs, especially one day/one off gigs, are more about that than actual instruction of any kind, usually)
    2. You’ll get at least a glimpse into the real day to day and life of a teacher: scant time for bathroom breaks, free periods covering for other teachers or lunch duty, bus/hall monitoring, etc. There are SO many aspects and expectations/roles involved in teaching.
    3. Once you teach at a school enough and you are seen as competent, you’ll likely be invited to longer term substitute roles or maybe to be a dedicated sub at that school. With longer term gigs, you’ll get actual instruction experience, which is a great resume builder for newly graduated educators!

2.  CHECKING OUT VARIOUS SCHOOLS & GRADE LEVELS: Technically this could also be under the “Experience” section, because subbing even just a few days at a school, or in a new grade level will  help you to evaluate what you like or perhaps don’t like about say high school vs. middle school or one particular school over another.

    1. Do you prefer the start/end times/block/shortened days schedule of a certain schools and/or one level over another (K-5 vs. 6-8 or 9-12, for example)?
    2. Which schools have the most helpful staff and/or administrators? (trust me, this varies widely!)
    3. Which schools have the demographics you prefer (need Reading teachers the most, have many ELL/ESL students if that interests you, are STEM focused, arts-magnets, charters vs. regular public schools, etc.) Checking out all kinds of options is INVALUABLE! It only took me ONE day of elementary subbing to KNOW for 100% FACT I did NOT want to teach (nor did I belong) in K-5!! (Oddly, I LOVE middle school, which most people think is just NUTS! High school? Too early, too much attitude – for ME, anyway, though many love it!)
    4. Similarly, you can try the special education classes, try being a classroom aide, try all special types of classes if you sub long enough and might discover a special love for certain specialty areas of teaching


    1. Job referrals (quite possibly being recruited to a school that loves you after you graduate) & hopefully
    2. Sources of references for your job search, too!


Getting to try everything out (or lots of it anyway) is SO HELPFUL in determining the right career path of you in teaching!


You may even find out that you do NOT want to teach, or, realize you want to work in education & training in some capacity, but not in a classroom (or particular type of classroom).


While public schools are definitely in high need for passionate, skilled new teachers (especially any with some sort of related experience – like subbing!), there are also other avenues for any professional that loves to teach, support and encourage others.


I have related posts on my blog for all kinds of jobs for educators, check them out too!