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What type of substitute are you?
What Type of Substitute are YOU?

As we discussed in our recent post, The 5 Most Common Tips to Being A Successful Guest Teacher, substitutes bring an enormous value to the K-12 education space. Education is one of the very few industries that must have replacements when someone is out for the day. In most other fields if an employee calls out for the day they frequently won’t have someone filling in for them while they’re gone. Due to the nature of the education industry, however, substitutes are necessary to continue the learning process while the lead teacher in the classroom is absent for the day, week, month, or sometimes even, year.

One of the greatest joys I get from working in the corporate office at Insight is that I get to meet so many different kinds of people who have so many ideas, talents and just overall life experiences. What I’ve noticed though, is that while everyone has driven down a very different road in life, the reasons they’ve decided to become substitute teachers are very similar. In fact, we decided to devote this blog to the three main reasons we see people choose this career path day in and day out.

The Retired Teacher: We’ve all had The Retired Teacher as a substitute growing up. They have taught for more than 30 years, but they have so much passion for their trade as well as an insatiable desire to teach students to become professionals. Even after they’ve decided it’s time to settle down, they still want to work from time to time as a substitute to stay connected to what they’ve loved so much about their career for so long.

I’ve always found this to be truly admirable. While the majority of the world can’t wait to leave work, retired teachers are holding on to their job and continue to improve our youth by providing a much-needed service. Their experience allows them to walk into any classroom, in any grade level, in any environment, and seamlessly continue the educational process. You can be sure that when a retired teacher is in the room, students are not going to have a free day off because there’s a substitute, they’re going to continue learning.

The Rookie: Another staple is the The Rookie. We are going to break this up into two categories. The first is The College Graduate. Their own education has recently ended and they’re eager to take everything they’ve learned and put it into practice. The second is The Career Changer. They’ve recently decided that their current career either wasn’t challenging or wasn’t fulfilling. Either way, they’ve landed themselves in the education realm.

They haven’t had the opportunity to develop their teaching style yet, so while they’ll certainly have some challenges to overcome, they’ll also bring cutting edge technology and techniques to the classroom. They’re extremely willing to try new concepts and new ideas, which frequently leads to new studies, methodologies, and breakthroughs in research and learning!

The Philanthropist: I remember vividly, as a young child, seeing some of my friends’ mothers in the classroom, the hallway, and the lunchroom. We have a lot of family members that fall into this category who are looking to give back to their community. The Philanthropist is the person who seeks to devote their time to the greater good of the locality. Frequently they’ll already know each student’s name and personality which enables them to have large impacts in a short amount of time.

This is typically a mother, father, or some sort of family member of a student inside the district. This brings a level of care and parental instinct to the classroom that’s difficult to match. While everyone always thinks of the student’s first and tries to do everything they can to help them, it’s truly personal for this person. You’ll frequently see them at board meetings and they are often extremely active members in other aspects of the community as well. They feel a deep emotional connection to the school district and community, and they genuinely just want to see it thrive.

We’ve found that each type of substitute brings a unique experience and passion to the craft. Whether you’re a retired teacher who’s addicted to passing on your life experience, a rookie who is eager to make a difference, or a philanthropist looking to give back to your community, there’s a spot both at Insight, and in your local school district for you. It’s variation of life experiences that foster a true learning environment, so which experience do you bring to the classroom?

PS – Think we’ve missed a category here? Email us at and let us know! We’ll happily come back and update the blog!