Finding the Light

So I’m just going to say it… This girl isn’t meant for teaching on call.


That’s me!

Don’t get me wrong – I think I’m pretty good at it, I definitely enjoy the everyday aspects of the job and I am so thankful that I was able to get on a list so quickly in a tough city to find work. I just can’t emotionally handle TOCing… I get stressed, angry, upset, exhausted, and anxious when I don’t have work booked. The same things happen when I get a call the morning of to work. I appreciate the work and always say yes but I just have so much trouble with the unknown of it all – Being prone to anxiety isn’t helpful either. And besides the unknown of it all, after having had a taste of full time work this fall I just don’t find the on call work as satisfying.

But the TOC life does have its benefits – Leaving at the end of the day without piles of marking being a major one. Very little planning and prep, getting home when the sun is still out, seeing a variety of different grades/schools/teachers, etc. So my saying when people ask me about my work is that, for me, TOCing is “less job satisfaction but more life satisfaction.”

And this was great in December! I worked a ton and had lots of time to work out and visit with friends and family! January has been a different story – I’ve worked a lot already (first week back!) but I’ve felt a bit more disheartened about the situation. I am really missing the hard work and job satisfaction piece… I may even be missing the marking? I know, I know you all have hours of marking that I could do for you 😉 but I think what I miss is making my own assignments up and seeing how students bring them to life. I absolutely love seeing my ideas turn into something else when given to a student.

Today I decided I needed to do something about my spirits. I spent some time planning classes that I will probably teach someday (yes I admit it daily – I’m a teacher nerd!) and made year plans and lists of things that I would want to do in my classroom. Now I have been taking notes all along like this since practicum but this was more of an intense sit down and make some concrete plans. I pretended that I was guaranteed a class next fall in a middle school that I’d like to be at and I just sat down and worked. I even typed them up and emailed them to myself so I can actually use them at some point…20140108-192211.jpg

It was so much fun – especially since I didn’t have any of the regular pressures of time that come along with actually having a class.

Lately I’ve been really interested in a couple of different approaches to teaching different subjects (mainly centers-based courses, self-directed studies, interactive subject notebooks, and project-based learning) so that is what I spent most of my time on, just trying to think through the logistics of these. Now I’m hoping that I will come across some more excellent examples of these approaches in my TOC work.

Re-framing my point of view has really helped me to look at the bigger picture today. Now I can really see all the benefits I have as a substitute teacher and I’m excited to take advantage of this time because hopefully it will make it easier when I do get my first full time contract.

Any other subs out there? How do you stay engaged in the teaching profession when you are working on call?


4 thoughts on “Finding the Light

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I am also prone to anxiety… but strangely enough, I do love TOCing in that sense. I feel like the not-knowing part is pushing me outside of my comfort zone in a safe way. That being said – I hate being called for prep coverage because it’s always such a lottery!

    As for staying excited about teaching while TOCing – it’s hard! Sometimes I find myself attached to a class after just a day, and I am sad to have to go. One thing I’ve found that helps is to meet up with other TOCs in the same district, and just chat, share stories and resources, etc. I say the same district because districts are just so different these days! I met some ladies at a Pro-D workshop and we get together maybe bi-monthly just to support each other. It helps, because it’s like you have a team again (where you would already if you were permanent in a school).

  2. Also one of my friends uses her days off to make lesson plans and research things! For some reason I am finding it hard to be… disciplined enough to do that. I use my days off to work out, do the dishes, cook, etc. You’re definitely right about life vs. job… life is winning for me right now.

  3. As a TOC I can definitely understand the anxiety/frustration you are feeling. It is frustrating not to get a call, but getting a call comes with its own set of anxieties and worries, even though, 90% of the time there is nothing to worry about. Usually I find I am engaged as soon as I step through the front door of the school.

    I am actually typing this post while up early, eating breakfast in case a call comes in. Unlike you I haven’t been working much this first week back. Hopefully it will pick up! It always does!


    • Thanks, Tom! I think you are so smart to be ready just in case… I think I should start trying that because then I can make the most of my day even if I don’t get called in.

      I hope work picks up for you soon! There seems to be a lot of sickness going around – so as long as we can stay healthy we should be working lots!

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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