Long Term Substitute Problems

Almost all students have had a long-term sub at some point or another. They are an interruption to the pattern of learning that students have become accustomed to. Each sub and teacher have different teaching styles, policies and even expectations. It is unfair that students are expected to transition over to a stranger teaching them without hesitation.

“Going from your teacher to a long term sub is difficult,” sophomore Jasiel Portillo said. “I don’t feel like I’m learning to the full extent and when the teacher returns to our class, we have to play catch up.”

When a teacher plans to leave for a period of time, they are able to find a substitute to fit their preferences and teaching styles, making sure that their students are left in good hands. They are have the option to make lesson plans, leave assignments and assign projects so that students can get straight to work when the sub is implemented.

“It took a while. It’s harder to find long-term subs than you would think a��. There really is no protocol. MCPS doesn’t have a “go here to find peoplea�� thing,” social studies teacher Caitlin Ulmer said. “Some teachers have sub recommendations, but many of them are on their own when making the decision.”

However, when an unpredictable event happens and a teacher is out for an extended period of time, they do not have the time to find a qualified sub, leaving their students caught off guard, having to fend for themselves and their grades.

“I’ve had to take a test with an unexpected long-term sub,” sophomore Veronica Carbajal said. “A lot of people in my class failed because it was impossible to review for a test with a clueless sub who couldn’t answer your questions.”

Long-term subs are supposed to receive the same level of respect as as teachers, but that just does not happen. Students are not going to let a stranger walk into their classroom and boss them around. Long-term subs have to establish firm rules and procedures to get respect from their students.

“Sometimes students try to do things they wouldn’t normally try with a regular teacher,” MCPS substitute teacher Robert Nannetti said.

Added stress is also another side effect of a long-term sub. Students will think to themselves, “Who is this complete stranger commanding my class?a�� or “What if this teacher does not like my writing style or way of doing my work?a��

The only information teachers are provided with now when selecting substitutes is a name, ID, phone number, what days they are available and if they are willing to sub at your school. No information regarding their qualification, subject preference or even references to people they have subbed for before is given.

Long-term teacher absences cannot be avoided but they would have less of an effect on students if MCPS had a strict system in place where teachers would be able to effectively find and choose qualified long-term subs for their specific subject, many of the problems associated with long-term subs would disappear.