Substitute vs Full Time Teacher: Requirements and Licensing in Massachusetts

In summary: Teaching math or science in public high schools can be a frustrating endeavor. In my experience (as a parent watching some HS classes in recent years), the level of disinterest and disrespect of many public school students right now is pretty hard to deal with. Teaching in a private school would probably provide you a better set of students... Unless you happen to be a substitute teacher for an extended period, being a substitute will not be much of an introduction to being a teacher. You will not have to create lesson plans, give and grade tests, worry about the long-term dynamics of the classroom, and on and on.The pay sucks as a substitute, after leaving industry involuntarily, I took up substitute teaching while thinking about getting certified
  • #1
dsaun777
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I received a bachelors in mathematics fairly recently and I am thinking about a career in teaching. I know that you must posses a license to be a full time teacher in most schools, but what requirements are there for being a substitute teacher? I hear teaching can be too overwhelming for some people. For this reason I would like to try substituting before I try attempt a career of teaching. How much more time and education would I need to be able to obtain a license? Anyone else here from Massachusetts? They have pretty high standards in some schools.
 
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  • #2
dsaun777 said:
I hear teaching can be too overwhelming for some people. For this reason I would like to try substituting before I try attempt a career of teaching.
What grade levels do you want to teach? I'm assuming that you want to teach at the high school level? I'm not of any help on the certification requirements, but on the issue of challenging environments, I do know that teaching math or science in public high schools can be a frustrating endeavor. In my experience (as a parent watching some HS classes in recent years), the level of disinterest and disrespect of many public school students right now is pretty hard to deal with. Teaching in a private school would probably provide you a better set of students...
 
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  • #3
Unless you happen to be a substitute teacher for an extended period, being a substitute will not be much of an introduction to being a teacher. You will not have to create lesson plans, give and grade tests, worry about the long-term dynamics of the classroom, and on and on.

If you can't stand being a regular teacher for a year, you probably shouldn't even be thinking about being a teacher, so I'd say just try it.
 
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  • #4
berkeman said:
In my experience ... the level of disinterest and disrespect of many public school students right now is pretty hard to deal with.
My wife teaches high school and elementary school and that is EXACTLY what she complains about the most. It is horrible.
 
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  • #5
berkeman said:
What grade levels do you want to teach? I'm assuming that you want to teach at the high school level? I'm not of any help on the certification requirements, but on the issue of challenging environments, I do know that teaching math or science in public high schools can be a frustrating endeavor. In my experience (as a parent watching some HS classes in recent years), the level of disinterest and disrespect of many public school students right now is pretty hard to deal with. Teaching in a private school would probably provide you a better set of students...
I would like to teach serious students but I lack credentials to begin at a private school. And to be honest teaching high school students terrifies me. I would like to maybe teach middle school. I would probably like to try substituting just to get a feel for what is need to be a teacher before committing year of my life getting a license.
 
  • #6
Be aware that substituting is, in many ways, harder than teaching year round. Think about how you treated substitutes when you were in jr. high--and you were probably better behaved than your peers. A lot of kids in band class traded instruments when a sub came in and played (horribly) something they had never tried before.
 
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  • #7
The pay sucks as a substitute, after leaving industry involuntarily, I took up substitute teaching while thinking about getting certified and going full time as a regular high school physics and math teacher as an alternative. I worked about 150 days during the school year and took a 90% pay-cut as a sub and would have taken a 60% pay-cut as a full time teacher starting with a PhD. To put it in perspective, I made more in my first month back in industry than I did in the previous 5 months working almost full time as a high school substitute. Ironically, I was the only staff member in the district with an actual degree in what I was teaching, none of the other science/math teachers had a BS/BA degree in their subject mater. The only one remotely qualified had a Chemical Engineering degree.

As was mentioned, the respect level from staff, admin, students and parents sucked as a sub, I was appalled.
 
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  • #8
Dr Transport said:
Ironically, I was the only staff member in the district with an actual degree in what I was teaching, none of the other science/math teachers had a BS/BA degree in their subject mater.
Sadly, this is why our public schools do so poorly at educating for STEM type courses. Often teachers that were English majors in college end up teaching math at the lower (and sometimes higher) grade levels. A great (in a terrible way) example is simple mathematical precedence. I knew a fairly smart guy who didn't believe in it. His teacher taught him to do math from left to right (like a simple $1 calculator, ironically, that is how he proved himself right) because his grade school teacher taught him this method.
 
  • #9
I love teaching high school seniors. best age group. I also love teaching. I get to talk about something that I love day in and day out. I only report to work 180 days out of the year. in my city in Texas there are several alternative teaching certification programs that vary in length. the one that i attended was a four month program that taught me very little about actually teaching and more about district and state policies. I know other programs exist that are much longer and require you be in the class and do "student teaching". which I didn't have to do.

a mentioned above, you won't get much "teaching" experience being a sub. is what you will get is observing students at their most rowdy behavior. which could be beneficial to making your decision as well.

Dr Transport said:
Ironically, I was the only staff member in the district with an actual degree in what I was teaching, none of the other science/math teachers had a BS/BA degree in their subject mater. The only one remotely qualified had a Chemical Engineering degree.

This is a thing at my school. I don't know anything about the whole district though. The other physics teachers at my school all have BS in biology. I'm the only one with a physics degree. And even with that it took the school three years to give me a physics class.
 
  • #10
marcusl said:
Be aware that substituting is, in many ways, harder than teaching year round. Think about how you treated substitutes when you were in jr. high--and you were probably better behaved than your peers. A lot of kids in band class traded instruments when a sub came in and played (horribly) something they had never tried before.
Agree with the above

But also, one of the big positives in teaching is the relationships you can form with your classes. That's much harder if you're hopping around as a substitute. If you get to know and like the kids you teach, it's makes the hard work and the endless marking/prep more bearable.

One thing I have realized over the years is that the first term in any school is usually really tough, but it does get better. Sometimes it's better the 2nd term, sometimes it might not be until the 2nd year that it really starts to improve as you settle in, know your way around, and the students see you as a regular teacher.

Also, from my personal experience, teaching is a job that can take you all over the world. Maths (&physics) teachers are in short supply and with a recognised qualification and a bit of experience you'd be able to apply to American and International schools all over the world.

Good luck whatever you decide.
 
  • #11
dsaun777 said:
I would like to teach serious students but I lack credentials to begin at a private school. And to be honest teaching high school students terrifies me. I would like to maybe teach middle school. I would probably like to try substituting just to get a feel for what is need to be a teacher before committing year of my life getting a license.
You need also to realize, if you are entered onto a school's or district's substitute list, you will be called upon to substitute usually for ANY classes, not often just for "Mathematics". You decide if you are comfortable with that diverse a set of possible classes to substitute for.
 
  • #12
dsaun777 said:
I would like to teach serious students but I lack credentials to begin at a private school. And to be honest teaching high school students terrifies me. I would like to maybe teach middle school. I would probably like to try substituting just to get a feel for what is need to be a teacher before committing year of my life getting a license.

I've taught at a couple private schools, and my degree was sufficient to get hired. In one case, no license was required. In another case, I was granted a "Provisional" license by the accrediting agency with the understanding that I'd complete some online work within two years to qualify for a full "Professional" teaching license. I also once taught at a public high school with similar provisional licensing.

Dr Transport said:
The pay sucks as a substitute ...

As was mentioned, the respect level from staff, admin, students and parents sucked as a sub, I was appalled.

Pay is very poor as a substitute. Alternate plans are probably needed to make ends meet. A couple years ago, I substituted math and science at a private Christian school where the respect level was very high - higher than most other regular teaching jobs I've had. This had two main components - 1) years of experience have taught me not to tolerate disrespect and 2) the school culture and admins always had teachers' backs on respect issues (including subs). That year, I probably handed out more detentions than any other faculty or staff member. And the administration backed me on all of them. They even got behind my initiative to give detentions for repeated failures to complete assignments on time.

symbolipoint said:
You need also to realize, if you are entered onto a school's or district's substitute list, you will be called upon to substitute usually for ANY classes, not often just for "Mathematics". You decide if you are comfortable with that diverse a set of possible classes to substitute for.

This may well be the case for public districts, but I was able to specify only subbing for math, science, and bible at the private Christian school. Of course, my consulting income (and my wife's) provided a level of financial freedom so that I didn't have to jump every time the phone rang. These were also simply very respectful people who didn't treat their subs like chattle. I usually got the first call due to my subject matter expertise not leading to a loss of instructional time when the primary teacher was out. "Babysitter" substitutes were lower in priority.

If you are going to be a substitute, it will be much more satisfying if the school(s) you work at appreciate your ability to keep the instruction going. Schools that look at all subs as babysitters are to be avoided.
 
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  • #13
dsaun777 said:
I received a bachelors in mathematics fairly recently and I am thinking about a career in teaching. I know that you must posses a license to be a full time teacher in most schools, but what requirements are there for being a substitute teacher? I hear teaching can be too overwhelming for some people. For this reason I would like to try substituting before I try attempt a career of teaching. How much more time and education would I need to be able to obtain a license? Anyone else here from Massachusetts? They have pretty high standards in some schools.
I think you need an interest in people and psychology. There is also a lot of tracking student performance and behaviour using IT systems, and a lot of out-of-hours preparation and commitment. Could you work as a classroom assistant for a short period to get see if you like the environment?
 
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  • #14
Many states don't require more than ~60 hours of college credit to be able to be hired as a substitute, a BS/BA is not required. All I had to do to get a substitute certification was apply, pay the fee, get fingerprinted and submit copies of transcripts, It took about a week total for me. If you want ot go the best route, get into a MEd program, I would think you'd be able to finish up in a year or so.

One thing to mention, you won't get a true feel for teaching as a sub, you aren't expected to put together lesson plans, grade or lecture, just follow the teachers sub-instructions. I had it good, I taught all STEM areas and the teachers sent me their lesson plans ahead of time because I had a background in it.
 
  • #15
You could also try assisting in a classroom, I would recommend in an area that is known for having poor students because then it’ll give you a better idea if you truly want to teach. However, neither subbing nor being an assistant would help much with truly knowing what it’s like to be a teacher. By the way the reason I recommended being an assistant is because the teacher you are with can help show you the pros and cons of teaching, I would recommend trying a bit of both for a year.
 
  • #16
Subbing is a good way to see the many various teaching methods, classroom set-ups, etc. But it can be pretty stressful because you never know what you are going to run into - well unless you sub for the same few teachers every day. I recommend it for all future teachers.
Last I checked, in Ca.you have to at least have a Bachelor's degree.
I am 72 years old, taught for 40 years, and semi-retired. I used to sub during my summer vacations. In recent years during my retirement, subbing has been good for me - I have to get up out of bed and go to work. Q:?)
 
  • #17
UppercaseQ said:
Subbing is a good way to see the many various teaching methods, classroom set-ups, etc. But it can be pretty stressful because you never know what you are going to run into - well unless you sub for the same few teachers every day. I recommend it for all future teachers.
Last I checked, in Ca.you have to at least have a Bachelor's degree.
I am 72 years old, taught for 40 years, and semi-retired. I used to sub during my summer vacations. In recent years during my retirement, subbing has been good for me - I have to get up out of bed and go to work. Q:?)
Needed there is Bachelor's Degree, and past CBEST, and then check with your county office of education how to apply for substitute teacher certificate or license. Substitute Teaching in the k-12 system is not for everyone.
 

1. What are the requirements for becoming a substitute teacher in Massachusetts?

Becoming a substitute teacher in Massachusetts typically requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Additionally, you will need to pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) and complete a criminal background check.

2. Do I need a teaching license to be a substitute teacher in Massachusetts?

Yes, in Massachusetts, substitute teachers are required to hold a valid teaching license. This can be either a Preliminary, Initial, or Professional license, which can be obtained through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

3. Can I substitute teach in Massachusetts with an out-of-state teaching license?

Yes, if you hold a valid teaching license from another state, you can apply for a Temporary Substitute Teacher License in Massachusetts. This will allow you to substitute teach for up to 90 days while you work towards obtaining a Massachusetts teaching license.

4. Are there any additional requirements for substitute teachers in Massachusetts?

In addition to holding a teaching license, substitute teachers in Massachusetts are also required to complete a Substitute Teacher Orientation Program (STOP) within the first 90 days of employment. This program covers topics such as classroom management, legal issues, and teaching strategies.

5. What is the difference between a substitute teacher and a full-time teacher in Massachusetts?

The main difference between a substitute teacher and a full-time teacher in Massachusetts is the length of employment. Substitute teachers typically fill in for short periods of time, while full-time teachers have a more permanent position. Additionally, full-time teachers are required to hold a Professional teaching license, while substitute teachers can hold a Preliminary or Initial license.

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