There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (Period)

Ahhh, lunch period. After a morning of following lesson plans, corralling kids and your bladder relentlessly chastising you for drinking too much coffee, lunch is a welcome reprieve. While your inclination may be to savor this quiet time alone in your classroom, updating social media and eating your peanut-free lunch, I urge you to resist the temptation. As veterans know, the lunch period is one stellar opportunity for the substitute teacher. 

It’s Basically Paid Networking

If you are a substitute teacher hoping to land a permanent position or more steady employment, think of the lunch room as a networking opportunity (and one you are essentially being paid to do). As you form relationships with the other teachers, they learn more about you and your teaching style. The next time one of these teachers has a planned absence, they may specifically request that you be their sub as they know you will follow their plans and have a rapport with the students. Further, when a job vacancy becomes available, because you are well-known to and cordial with the existing staff, you will easily be one of the first candidates considered. By eating lunch with the other teachers, you are demonstrating that you are a team player and ingratiating yourself to others who may have pull when a permanent position comes along. 

It’s Helps You Learn About Your Students

As a substitute teacher, your interactions with each student may be few and far between. This can make it difficult to build rapport and, for many of us, this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching. By eating lunch with other teachers, you can learn more about your students and what makes them tick. That student who was acting up this morning? She just lost a family member and needs some extra TLC. That student who refused to listen? He’s actually hard of hearing and didn’t hear you. Anything you can learn about your students is bound to be helpful, and the best sources of this information are the teachers who see them on a daily basis. 

It’s Where the School’s Morale is Revealed

If you are looking for a more permanent position, you likely want to work for a school whose values, methods and ambitions are a good fit with your own. While teachers are often team players in the classroom, the lunch room is where they speak more freely. Paying attention to their gripes, as well as the elements they praise, is helpful in deciding if this school’s climate is a solid match for you in the long-term. 

It Creates a Feeling of Unity

While you will invariably spend some time as “the sub”, once you begin mingling with the teachers during lunch, you quickly become a part of their crew. When other teachers know and respect you, the students begin to follow suit. From there, it’s not too long before you’re treated as just another teacher as opposed to an outsider to be wary of. 

Substitute teaching is full of hidden opportunities and eating lunch with the other teachers is among the most powerful. Next time, instead of savoring that sunflower seed butter sandwich solo, take a walk to the teacher’s lunch area and pull up a chair. It may just be the career breakthrough you’ve been looking for.  

Looking for more wisdom from the trenches? Sub Sidekick is happy to help manage all of your substitute teaching needs.   

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