I graduated from college with my teaching degree in December, meaning a school year was already in progress and I would have to wait for the year to end to pursue a full time teaching position. This meant... subbing.
My parents were highly motivated for me to begin joining the rest of the paid working world and ordered me to go down to the county office and register as a substitute teacher. The county had a list of every school and I simply checked which one's I was interested in subbing at. My best friend was already employed at a large high school with two campuses. One of the campuses was in a pretty hairy area, but my friend's school was fine and he'd already introduced me to some of his co-workers so I liked the idea of knowing a few faces somewhere. However, the county form only allowed you to check the high school- not particular campuses.
The lady from the county office told me it usually took a couple weeks before you were fully into the system and I shouldn't expect any calls before then. So I did what any college aged kid with no money and no job would do- I went over to my buddy Frank's house, got ripped drunk, and passed out on his couch.
The phone rang the next morning entirely too early. Frank was clearly a little pissed as he handed me the cordless phone to let me know my mother was on the line. "They called you to sub! They need you to call them back ASAP!" So much for two weeks off.
I called the number my mom gave me. The sub job was at my pal's aforementioned high school... the other campus (years later I can honestly attest that there was nothing wrong with the school or neighborhood but at this time in my life, perception was relevant). The sub caller had two different options for me: P.E. or Special Education. My student teaching experience had given me zero exposure to either of these areas and I was frankly terrified of either option. My parents would have murdered me if I turned down the opportunity to earn $80.00 pre-tax dollars after paying for my college. In the end, special education couldn't be as awful as the smell of a high school locker room could it?
I arrived at school still a little cloudy from the drinking the night before and hopeful I would be showing a movie that day so I could read the sports section and drink coffee. After arriving and being led through a metal detector in the presence of a uniformed officer (also not part of my student teaching experience...), I was given a map of the school with directions to the classroom I would be covering. I had to ask for orientation directions several times before finding the staircase that would be lead me to the basement (why does this huge high school have classes in the basement?). When I reached the classroom I finally figured out that I was subbing for the behavior disorder classroom. I'd been duped. I should have taken PE. Dammit.
Somewhere within the first ten paid minutes of my career, a student jumped up and yelled to one of his classmates, "Dude, I'm gonna fucking kill you in the parking lot after school." It was going to be a great day.
While teaching ED/BD students is perhaps not my calling, I survived the day, and several more in that same school. No one died in the parking lot to my knowledge, and my classroom management bag of tricks expanded enormously. I do not particularly believe that substitute teaching provides a ton of valuable teaching experience, but it does offer free trials into different schools, and it is fantastic practice for classroom management as the students are often at their very worst for a sub. However, it should be noted that substitute teaching is NOT a recommended cure for a stiff hangover...