(Three weeks ago, I said “More on part-time jobs next week!” Oops…better late than never!)
Once you’ve been substitute teaching for a little while, you come to the frustrating realisation that you’re probably not making enough money. For 5 of my 7+ years of teaching, I had a second job. I also talk to a lot of other substitute teachers and listen to what they have to say about having a second job. Here are some do’s and don’ts:
- DO take care of yourself financially. It’s one thing to be hopeful and think “One of these days I’m going to get my own classroom and then I’ll make good money!” It’s an entirely different thing to put yourself into debt by working a job that doesn’t pay enough or doesn’t call you in enough days.
- DON’T let your part-time job become more important to you than your teaching work (unless you need a break and that’s what you want to do!) You have to remind yourself which is a job and which is a career and give each the appropriate time and energy.
- DO make your priorities known to your part-time boss. When I was interviewing for my part-time job, I let my potential boss know that my priority was teaching and that I would only take evening and weekend shifts. I was lucky; she was totally receptive and understanding of that. I, in turn, would make myself available for day shifts the odd time to help out.
- DON’T put yourself in a situation that’ll burn you out. There was a period of time that the store was short-staffed and I was working most evenings and most weekends. This was on top of having my own class to plan for (I was in the middle of my first contract instead of substituting), and an hour commute between school and store. I was consistently working 12 hour days, commuting a ton, eating poorly, and not getting weekends off. I was struggling to keep both bosses happy and I put my mental and physical health in jeopardy because of it. Luckily, another employee got hired at the store, but I should have spoken up long before that.
- DO work a job you feel comfortable working. Did I love that I was working in the same mall that a bunch of students I had taught were also working at? Not really. Did I work in a store that a lot of young people would frequent? Also not really. When I was first applying for jobs, I was looking only at locations that wouldn’t be appealing to a younger crowd. I wanted to keep the two worlds of my employment separate. In my five years at the store, there was only one instance of students I didn’t feel comfortable knowing where else I worked coming into the store, and even then I just ducked into the back room and my coworker served them.
- DON’T put yourself in a morally/ethically murky situation. Alternatively titled, don’t work at a bar. The hours are crap (home around 3:30am only to get up at 6am to get ready for school? Dumb. And yes, I knew someone who did this), and you’re going to be seeing students who either legally shouldn’t be there or who you simply don’t want to see. It’s weird and uncomfortable and you won’t sleep nearly enough. There are other jobs out there. Just don’t do it.
Do you have any other advice for balancing teaching work and a second job? Let me know in the comments below!