There are two downsides to subbing, particularly in Redstone.

The first is that, since it is not an insignificant drive and school in Redstone starts on the early side, I typically have to get up at around 6am. So if they call me at 5:30am (when the machine starts its calling), there’s not enough time to go back to sleep. This means that I have to go to bed on the early side in anticipation of a possible call. And since I never know if a call is going to come, I need to go to bed pretty early every night.

The second side is, on account of the drive, the fuel efficiency of the Forester, and taxes, “peanuts” is almost an overstatement of what I make. The two half-days I worked, once you take out taxes and gas, netted me $7 each. Less than I spent on dinner. Full days are the jackpot… only a little under $30. I would make more working minimum wage here in town. I’m not really doing this for the money (obviously), but that still stings a little.

Maybe this semester of maybe over the summer I will start seriously applying in Callie so that I can at least keep the gas money and save the time from the commute. One of the reasons I applied in Redstone was so that if I made a hash of it, I wouldn’t be burning any bridges within the community. Also, because their school system is larger, I figure it would be a way to gain some experience before I inflict myself on the community.

Of course, even if I apply at Callie and am put on their roll, teaching jobs would be fewer and I may still end up going to Redstone anyway. And really, in some ways having an excuse to go to Redstone is a good thing. I was going up there two weeks out of every three anyway. Now I’m going there twice a week (or so it seems). On the other hand, having fewer substitute teaching gigs wouldn’t be a bad thing in itself. I half-dodged a call when I was driving back from my Monday assignment because I needed Tuesday off to take care of a few things. The other reason is that I was on the road at the time. But it’s a thin line because I don’t want to dodge too many calls or (I suspect) I will be moved further down the queue. Which wouldn’t be bad because there would be fewer jobs and that’s fine, but could be bad because I may get fewer of the jobs I want (basically, the ones that I have a couple days notice rather than the ones I am receiving calls at 5 in the morning).

Part of me feels like I should get paid just for making myself available, if I’m going to be punished whenever I am unavailable.

But the other part of me keeps reminding me “this isn’t about the money.” It’s more about having something to do with myself, getting an idea if teaching is something I want to do, the learning experience it provides for me, and lastly when I start subbing in Callie becoming more a part of our community through a type of (lightly paid) community service. I had previously tried to volunteer at a “community center” which apparently is a domestic violence hotline. Part of the reason I was going to do it was to get out of the house, so you can imagine my disappointment when they excitedly told me “and it’s something you can do completely from home!” (it turned out that I was out of town when they had their orientation, which was probably just as well.)

Maybe one of these days I will be fortunate enough to get called to Jury Duty…


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16 Responses to The Downsides To Substitute Volunteaching

  1. Peter says:

    Working on commission makes it easy for me to understand your experience. On Wednesday I made the 110-mile round trip to Chipmunk Junction for a sales call. It started out well but then turned into a complete failure (“let me think about it”). Yesterday I trekked back to the town for two calls, and had some very scary moments when the first one was yet another abject flop (“let me talk it over with my wife and get back to you”). Thankfully the second call was a success, in fact a very nice success, but had it failed I would have driven 220 miles over two days and earned a goose egg.

  2. rob says:

    I’m surprised they even let you sub without an education degree. How often do substitute teachers work on average? It seems like it would interfere with most other jobs, and still not pay enough to live on.

  3. trumwill says:

    They don’t even require a college degree in Delosa and Arapaho, though the former pays you less without one and the latter seems to pretty strongly encourage a degree.

    I’ve worked three days and two half-days with a couple days I might could have gotten if I answered the phone or lived in Redstone. Even if you work every day I am not sure you could live off it. I think it’s mostly retired people and (as in my case) second “incomes.”

  4. Transplanted Lawyer says:

    Is there an understanding that volunteaching is really “paying your dues” as a precursor to being considered for full-time work — work that you would actually want? If so, that mitigates the sting of the minimal financial reward of what you’re doing.

  5. trumwill says:

    Peter, you have my sympathy. I can’t imagine trying to make a living off sales. What you describe would drive me crazy. Even without the travel, spending all the time trying to sell someone and coming up short, making nothing.

  6. trumwill says:

    TL, I think that for regular teachers, that is often the case. Particularly where there are excess candidates.

    I’ve been considering a post on this for quite some time, but coming from the south the notion that there is an excess anywhere is utterly bizarre to me. I always figured that if nothing else, that was something I could do and get a job just about anywhere.

  7. Peter says:

    Peter, you have my sympathy. I can’t imagine trying to make a living off sales. What you describe would drive me crazy. Even without the travel, spending all the time trying to sell someone and coming up short, making nothing.

    Over time it usually works out to one sale for every two to three sales calls. Given the way the commission schedule works, that rate is enough for you to make a decent living if you can schedule enough calls. Being able to get to that stage is the hard part, after six months in the field I’m just getting there. With any luck it’ll get easier from now on.

    What’s most frustrating is the way so many people will say anything rather than just coming out and say “no.” In my earlier comment I mentioned two common ways people avoid saying “no,” namely “let me think about it” and “let me talk it over with my wife.”

  8. stone says:

    I’m shocked at how little this pays. Substitute teaching in California doesn’t require an education degree or credential, just a degree and pass a one-day test, and paid more than $100 a day 15 years ago, which was the last time I checked.

    It’s scary how even jobs where the main draw was a decent paycheck have begun to be able to demand unpaid or low-paid intern-type labor. For the past decade or so, law has been making heavy use of unpaid “externs.”

  9. trumwill says:

    Peter, I wish I could say that I wasn’t one of those guys. On the other hand, it’s pretty rare that I would invite someone over (to my house or place of business) unless I were pretty serious about it.

    Sheila, Sigma has talked about that except, in typical Sigma fashion, he seems to universalize it. It is true that there are a lot of fields where they rely on this. Namely, those with an excess of candidates where they can. My brother went into aerospace at the wrong time and so there was the expectation of doing that sort of thing. However, there were enough people that decided to do something else that by the time he graduated they couldn’t get away with it anymore.

    Redstone’s pay (for everybody) is about what it was for non-grads in Delosa ten years ago. I doubt the latter has budged much.

  10. David Alexander says:

    110-mile round trip to Chipmunk Junction

    Peter, does Chipmunk Junction involve the use of a toll bridge or is this some area out east where they still have Red Sox fans…

    ”let me talk it over with my wife and get back to you”

    In roadside assistance, we get the inverse of that with the wife or kids asking their husband or parents respectively. It’s a bit of a nuisance when I need to get the member off the phone in order to attend to another call that’s been sitting in queue for fifteen minutes.

    Over time it usually works out to one sale for every two to three sales calls.

    In contrast, when I worked at 1800Flowers, our conversion rates were expected to be in the 75% range. In other words, 3 out of every 4 calls was to be converted into a sale. Mind you, we didn’t work on conversion, and purchasing flowers isn’t the same type of decision as purchasing insurance.

    I’m shocked at how little this pays.

    Low cost of living state. 🙂

  11. David Alexander says:

    Maybe one of these days I will be fortunate enough to get called to Jury Duty…

    Admittedly, back when I was unemployed about a decade ago*, I did a two day stint in the jury-pool at the state level in Queens. It paid slightly less than the minimum wage, but that wasn’t much of a concern given that the alternative at the time was nothing. It certain helped to pay for lens that I wanted…

    *I still can’t believe I can use the term “decade” and still be an adult at the time being discussed.

    It’s scary how even jobs where the main draw was a decent paycheck have begun to be able to demand unpaid or low-paid intern-type labor. For the past decade or so, law has been making heavy use of unpaid “externs.”

    To a certain extent, one could argue that Americans are simply overpaid compared to their real worth, or it’s the drive of firms to reduce their costs and maximize their profits.

  12. Peter says:

    Peter, I wish I could say that I wasn’t one of those guys. On the other hand, it’s pretty rare that I would invite someone over (to my house or place of business) unless I were pretty serious about it.

    It is entirely possible that some of the men who say “let me talk it over with my wife” are just using that as an excuse so they don’t have to utter the dreaded word “no.” I should point out that you never hear the reverse – no woman ever says “let me talk it over with my husband.” While there’s no actual prohibition, ABC Insurance discourages its agents from speaking with married men if their wives are not present.

    Looking back on Thursday’s failed sale, there also was another danger sign that for some reason I did not recognize at the time: the customer took out a piece of paper and was writing things down as I spoke. That is usually a way of feigning interest when the customer actually isn’t interested.

    Peter, does Chipmunk Junction involve the use of a toll bridge or is this some area out east where they still have Red Sox fans…

    “Chipmunk Junction” is better known as **st H*mpt*n, so it’s definitely out east. Not sure if there are any Bosox fans in the area, given its status as a summer resort for wealthy New Yorkers (there are many people of very modest means living there year-round, including a big Spanish-speaking population).

  13. trumwill says:

    In contrast, when I worked at 1800Flowers, our conversion rates were expected to be in the 75% range. In other words, 3 out of every 4 calls was to be converted into a sale. Mind you, we didn’t work on conversion, and purchasing flowers isn’t the same type of decision as purchasing insurance.

    Is this on outgoing calls? Wow.

    Low cost of living state.

    Touche! There’s no doubt that state jobs here are not going to pay what they do in New York.

  14. David Alexander says:

    Is this on outgoing calls? Wow.

    Technically, incoming calls from people calling in the phone number. So it’s not as bad as one may suspect, and I tended to take a low-pressure sales position so I only averaged around 90%. A few people had conversion ratings above 100% which means that they converted customer service calls into future sales.

    Touche! There’s no doubt that state jobs here are not going to pay what they do in New York.

    Admittedly, that’s a bit of the problem of living in a high cost of living state. Some of the high taxes do end up going to support some of the high salaries of the public employees. Yes, you can make roughly $90K at the peak of one’s teaching career around here, and starting salaries can hover around $50K to $65K depending on the district. Mind you, my 1800 sqft house in a great school district in need of updating could sell for $400K, while a one bedroom apartment of questionable legality is $900.*

    *I recently applied for a job where the starting salary was $31K per year. Based on that, one would end up spending nearly 60% of one’s net pay on housing. It’s even worse given that my employer’s starting salary is even lower.

  15. Peter says:

    In contrast, when I worked at 1800Flowers, our conversion rates were expected to be in the 75% range. In other words, 3 out of every 4 calls was to be converted into a sale. Mind you, we didn’t work on conversion, and purchasing flowers isn’t the same type of decision as purchasing insurance.

    Is this on outgoing calls? Wow.

    My reasoned guess is that is would be on incoming calls. 1-800-FLOWERS does plenty of e-mail solicitation (boy do they ever!) but phone solicitation is another matter. What with the federal Do Not Call registry* and the extremely low response rate to cold-calling solicitation, it just wouldn’t be worth the effort. We don’t do it at ABC Insurance even though the potential commission on an insurance sale is vastly higher than on any flower sale. Instead we call existing customers, recently lapsed customers, and people who were referred to us by existing customers. There are, however, some insurance companies which still do cold calling.

    * = the fine for a Do Not Call violation can be $11,000 per call.

  16. Peter says:

    On the other hand, it’s pretty rare that I would invite someone over (to my house or place of business) unless I were pretty serious about it.

    As far as I can tell my sales calls at businesses are somewhat more likely to be successful than are those at customers’ houses. I wrote up the single largest policy I’ve sold on the hood of the customer’s truck in a Burger King parking lot.

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