So you're fed up with your office desk job. Feel like making a difference? Have you ever wanted to know what it's like to do a job that could just as easily be accomplished by a corpse with a voice recorder? Good news! Chances are you're already more than qualified to be a substitute teacher. Now hold on and put down the tweed coat, because there are a few things you should know before you rush off to shape the minds of young people.
4Your Only Preparation Is a Meaningless Test
Wait, what? You're supposed to be giving tests, baby, not taking 'em. What the hell?
Relax. Before you pack up and start filling out that application to Applebee's, let me tell you some things about that test. For one thing, you do it online, so no one's watching but you and the NSA, and they certainly don't give a shit what you're up to. So needless to say, cheating is fairly easy. In all reality, the test is just there to make sure you read all of the material contained in the training manual.
Now here's the secret: You don't actually need to read all of the material contained in the training manual. At the end of every chapter is a review that covers every question that's on the test for that chapter. All you have to do is have the review open in one window and the test in another and boom, easy A.
The kids will be so lucky to have you!
But ... maybe you've got more integrity than me. Perhaps you feel like it's your responsibility to be prepared for whatever might happen in a room filled with a bunch of hormone-fueled teens. You want to learn all about classroom management and how to deal with different scenarios that might come up in the course of a day.
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You're a goddamn weirdo.
However, you're worried that it'll be too much to remember and you won't pass the test and then you'll never live out your dreams of babysitting 35 kids at once for a day. Well there's good news. The test is multiple choice. That's right, multiple choice, and not in a way that leaves much thought in coming up with the correct answer. Here's a real example from the test I took:
When is it okay to touch a child?
B) If the child's life is in immediate danger
C) If another teacher says it's 'okay'
D) Only when you're alone with the child
Having trouble picking the right answer? Yikes! Also, don't sweat it! You only need to get 70 percent of them right to pass the test and get a PDF of a certificate with your name on it (written in comic sans) stating that you can be left alone in a room full of kids for 6.5 hours a day.
There is one thing the test won't prepare you for, though.
3You're Probably Going to Get Shot
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Now, I don't know if that's true or not, but during my three-hour orientation, they certainly made me feel like it was a fact. I was reminded again and again that there was the possibility that I could be at school on a day when some unstable kid decides to bring his dad's .45 in to play target practice with everyone who made fun of him during lunchtime.
They'll do a lot to make you feel safe and like you're not going to die. But let me tell you, at the end of the day, it all boils down to the fact that you will be expected to lay down your life for a bunch of people who wouldn't shut up while you tried to take roll call five minutes earlier.
Look, I don't want to give you the wrong idea here. You won't be alone. In (almost) every classroom is a red folder that contains what you're supposed to do in case of a lockdown.
What else could you possibly need?
In many instances, if there is some sort of emergency situation, someone will make an announcement over the PA. Typically, this announcement will involve some sort of keyword or phrase to let you know what kind of emergency situation you're in and what you should do. Here's an excerpt from the emergency procedures at the last school I worked at:
THE LOCKDOWN PROCEDURE CODE WORD WILL BE: "TEACHERS, LOCK YOUR DOORS NOW."
Now, I'm not sure about you, but I feel like there's a small but important distinction between a "code word" and a "code phrase." You see, one consists of a single word, the other an entire phrase or sentence. But that's not even the worst part here. Typically, a code word is used when you need to hide something or otherwise secretly convey information to someone.
It's spy shit.
In this case, the intention is to alert teachers to the possible threat of an armed assailant in the school without letting said assailant know that anything is going on. Announcing "Teachers, lock your doors" over the intercom does exactly the opposite of that. A much better code phrase would be, "Just a reminder, we will be serving prime rib for lunch today."
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Because there's no way a public school could actually afford that, you see.
Seriously though, what do I know? You'll probably be fine. I don't know anything about school safety other than what I learned skimming through the training manual. I mean, it's not like I've spent years in education. I'm not much better than a college dropout. Which brings me to my next point ...