You remember the days when you walked into your classroom, and you knew everything was going to be alright.

You had a substitute teacher!

No homework that night? No homework to turn in (which, of course, you did) from the night before? Time to turn off the lights and watch a movie?

Pam, as we'll call her, knows exactly what you're thinking. She's a substitute teacher, and this is her confession...

(We're featuring Pam as part of Next's new series, Confessions of a ____. We want Confessions to be a place for you to gripe -- a platform for you to vent, and be honest. Almost no topic is off limits. If you have something to confess, email

Being a substitute teacher is a tough job. Kids think they can get away with all kinds of stuff. I’ve probably heard “but Ms. so-and-so lets us” 1,000 times. Thankfully, a few polite, helpful students sometimes set the record straight.

Many of the teachers I work for do a great job of leaving plans that keep the students busy but not everyone does. I’ve had teachers leave plans that were 4 single spaced for half a day. Were they kidding? I’ve had plans that were dependent on technology that didn’t work. The worst are the ones that say just have the kids work on their projects from yesterday. Mostly those projects are finished and the room turns into a free for all.

Then there are the days when a “guest instructor” comes in to do something and it doesn’t work out. I had such a class last spring when the group was supposed to make salsa under the tutelage of a parent who was a wellness educator.  Picture this: 26 kids running out to the school garden to pick veggies. There weren’t enough peppers and tomatoes for everyone to pick. The result was too much unstructured time so the boys ended up throwing grasshoppers at each other and the girls got into catty cliques. It went further downhill back in the classroom because, once again, there wasn’t enough for the class to do. Un-busy students always find plenty to occupy their time, most of it noisy and unproductive.

The worst situations are when parents come in and berate their kids in front of me. Sure kids lose things or are slow moving at times but that discussion should be private and couched in more positive terms. Shaming your kid is not OK - not ever.

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Being a sub isn’t all bad. I’ve met some great kids and learned from some amazing teachers. It certainly isn’t dull. I just wish teachers and students would treat us with a little more respect. We’ve earned it!