August is upon us. As a seasoned substitute teacher, you are no doubt getting ready to get back into the subbing saddle again. For many of us, we are better prepared for the subbing circuit having been on it now for a couple of years, but for others this is a new routine. We have all been cutting pasting and stitching together job applications for the past few months. For others there has been a nail biting wait to see if a call was impending from the panels. For a lot of us, this hard work will be unsuccessful. This is a short countdown to the new school year with the tasks you can do now in preparation for subbing.
3 Weeks to Go
• NQT’s: Register for your teacher induction course in your local Education Centre. You need to complete this course as part of your probationary requirement. See the Induction section of the Teaching Council Website for more information
• Gather your Kit bag together – pencils, pens, rubbers, toppers, diary, notebook and lesson resources
2 Weeks to Go
• Time to shorten your CV into a subbing CV. Basic information is required here, subbing/teaching experience are most important along with your qualifications. Don’t forget to mention if you are probated.
• Write the following on your subbing CV envelope: Substitute CV, [name], [phone number]
• Print off your substitute CV and print off/write down the names of schools you intend to call to
• Create a short business card (to include with your CV) with the following information in words:
[Probated?] [Qualification] [Irish Speaking] [Other strengths] [Words Only – 3 Lines]
• Make sure you have a CV in both English and as Gaeilge in your kit bag to leave with schools who have contacted you through text-a-sub or subsearch
1 Week to Go
• Time to take a break, the job applications process is mentally and physically draining so take a break now before the school year begins. Many find the substitute experience itself stressful.
• September can be a quiet month on the subbing front. Principals are not yet taking their release days and classroom teachers are settling into new routines. The first few weeks of school are crazy but they eventually settle down and sub work will begin to flow through.
• Do not call into schools the first day that they open. Give the school a chance to open and sort themselves out before you come in looking for the principals time. Don’t panic.
• For the moment, discount the schools where you have sent job applications this summer. They have a huge amount of CVs and some schools often call either unsuccessful interviewees or job applicants for substitute work first. Initially focus on schools that don’t have your details.
• When you call to a school, accept that you may not have the chance to talk to the principal directly, so be sure to make a great impression on the secretary (if they have one) instead.
• For seasoned subs, it is now time to contact schools where you subbed last year and let them know you are back on the circuit.
Most of us will not secure long term positions in the first couple of months, so don’t compare yourself to other sub teachers. It will be hard for most of us to remain positive after a tough summer of applications, especially when we have not heard from most of them. Please remember you are not alone. Remember substitute work is about building experience, building contacts, honing your craft and learning about yourself as a teacher. Substitute work is a mixture of hard work and luck! Best of luck.
Deirdre Ní Cheallaigh is a substitute teacher who loves education and the variety of experiences subbing offers to a teacher, but really doesn’t like the uncertainty of work and the quiet days spent wondering if the phone will ring. So she has gained new skills IT skills by creating a website for other substitute teachers www.subkit.eu . It is a work in progress but she hopes it will help other nomadic teachers in their subbing journey and hopes that they will contribute by adding their ideas and tips for other teachers.