Local professionals earn side income as substitute teachers

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BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — It's not a permanent career choice, but substitute teaching allows you to make money when you're free, and local professionals are capitalizing on it.

A city councilman and senior appellate judge are two of many to help out the school districts, The Hawk Eye (http://bit.ly/1GhKF1T ) reported. A bachelor's degree along with a clean background check allows you to become eligible for substitute teaching. After taking a class at the Great Prairie Area Education Agency, you can become a substitute teacher like Jack Black and Cameron Diaz or John Miller and Bob Fleming.

Judge John Miller is a senior appellate judge and is semiretired. Jan. 1 will mark 40 years of being a judge for Miller, and he's doubling as a substitute teacher. Miller teaches in the Mediapolis, Danville, Notre Dame and West Burlington districts. He teaches anything and everything.

"I've been hearing about the failure of the schools, but I've found the teachers to be hardworking," Miller said. "Most of the students know me. They like to see where the line is and push it."

Miller said the biggest challenge for him is classroom management and for new substitutes especially in their first classroom, set expectations right away.

"I want to make sure it's a meaningful day and make sure the kids learn something," Miller said. "I like to think I'm a good sub. I try to leave detailed notes from each class for the teacher and keep tests in alphabetical order for the teachers. I just want to be really informative and as helpful as possible."

Miller said in the 200 to 300 times he's subbed, maybe one time was a rough experience.

"You just let them know the expectations and expect them to work quietly, just as if the regular teacher were there," Miller said.

Substitutes can work no more than five consecutive days in one job assignment and will earn between $85 and $125 a day, depending on the district.

Bob Fleming is a member of the Burlington City Council and has been substitute teaching for several years. He retired in 1995 after working at Winegard for more than 40 years and primarily substitutes at Notre Dame now. He's also spent time in the Burlington district.

Fleming said he's got some teaching experience from his days in the Air Force, but that was many years ago.

"A friend of mine had been substitute teaching, and he said I should try it," Fleming said. "And I thought about it, and I'm always trying to be active in things so I thought I'd try it."

Fleming said the most challenging aspect of substituting is the classroom management portion.

"Making sure everyone is paying attention and doing what they are told," Fleming said. "And that usually isn't too tough a deal, but it is a challenge."

"I'm on the call list and occasionally they call me, and the thing is, when they call you, if you're busy, you just say you are busy," Fleming said. "A lot of the kids know me by now. I think it's fun to be with young people, and you get to know them. It's good to be associated in an environment like that."

Classes for prospective substitute teachers are offered once a semester at the beginning of the school year and in the spring at the Great Prairie Area Education Association building on West Avenue. It's been offered for nearly 10 years, and the class is rarely canceled because of enrollment.

The class is 20 contact hours, or one credit hour, and is taught by Aldo Leopold Middle School teacher Michael Carper. Teachers get information about classroom management, connecting with students and some everyday things teachers and school districts expect from a substitute teacher.

"We focus on classroom ethics and conduct? liability? what you do if there's a lockdown or fight? and what to do if you are asked to be a hallway or lunch monitor," Carper said.

Toward the end of class, Carper will bring in a panel of teachers to speak with his class and for questionandanswer opportunities. At the end of the class, which typically lasts a month, Carper has them teach an actual class.

"I love to end with that so they can go out on a high note," Carper said. "It's a brief five to 10minute presentation."

Each class usually lasts four hours.

Katie Gavin, administrator of professional services for the GPAEA, said those panels are very popular among the students and allow them to find out what are good practices for middle and high schools.

"We make sure that they have a lot of different options as far as classroom rules, communication pieces, make sure you know the district you are going into and that you know their policies," Gavin said. "And if something goes wrong, what do you need to do, because they could potentially be in some rooms with students who have unique needs."

"So you have to be able to step up to the plate with that," she continued.

After the class is completed, the applicant must apply for a certificate and go through background testing and fingerprinting. Once that is completed and the class credit along with the certificate is in hand, you can apply with any district. Anyone with this certificate can teach at grades 612, and as of Jan. 1, they will be able to substitute in the elementary buildings as well.

Gavin said normally, substitute teachers were regular, certified teachers who just don't have a classroom at the moment. That's changed.

"There's a need," Gavin said. "When they started this process, the shortage area was in high school for substitute teachers so they thought that would be a nice match for 612. Now they're finding the shortage areas continue to persist, so they extended that to the elementary buildings as well."

Colleges don't require instructors to be licensed or certified by the Board of Educational Examiners.

Carper and Gavin said the classes are filled with folks who are retired, maybe burned out on their current job and want to teach or just can't find a job in their field.

Typically there's between 10 and 20 people in each class. The class costs $120, and there is an additional cost for the certificate from the Board of Educational Examiners.

"The class was very interesting, and again I've been out of the loop for many years so it was challenging to say the least, but I thought it was well presented and helped me to get started on the right foot," Fleming said.

Gavin said many professionals get into teaching because they have a connection with the students or want to connect with young people, and their background allows them to teach.

"They might have a business or computer background, and they love substituting in those classes," Gavin said. "That's their passion. And they get to make a difference while deciding their schedules."

Another class will be offered in the spring, but Gavin has not nailed down a date.

Most school districts use the automated systems Subfinder or AESOP to find and schedule their substitutes.

Chuck Griffin, the human resources director for the Burlington School District, said once a substitute is put on the sub list, they go into the AESOP system and can pick up any assignments they are qualified to for.

"Sometimes teachers don't need a sub if they are on a special assignment, but when they need a sub, they put in sub required, and there's a 98 percent fill rate," Griffin said. "For associates, it's 55 percent. That pays a lot less, and they don't have any licensing. We've been working to pick up more."

Mediapolis uses the same system.

For the 20132014 year, Burlington needed an average 22.5 substitute teachers every day. There are 340 teachers in the district, and reasons for absences range from professional development to illness.

"It's a pretty good size list, and subs go to a bunch of districts," Griffin said. "There's a little bit of competition, and it depends on if they are available. Some say they don't want to work in a certain building, and some teachers have a favorite sub, so there's a lot that goes into getting a sub."

West Burlington does not have one particular department or person to find substitutes. All subs apply online, and then principals search through the online data base. If a teacher knows of a substitute, they can find their own.

The Fort Madison School District pays a school associate an additional stipend to call substitutes, but if a teacher needs a day off and knows ahead of time, they tell the building secretary. The sub caller only finds subs for that particular day.

Cindy Smith is the administrative assistant to the superintendent in the Mount Pleasant School District. Smith said there are 50 to 55 subs on their list, and they use Subfinder to find their subs. She said this is the seventh year using the automated system. Before that, a staff person made the calls.

Finding subs varies by month and depends on how much professional development is planned for teachers, then sick leave and flu season.

"They go through an online application process to apply, then I look at the applications to sign them up and get registered," Smith said. "The system starts calling at 6 a.m., but it's a first come, first served. There are quite a few subs throughout the year."


Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Hawk Eye

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