During a recent substituting assignment, I picked up your March/April issue to read during lunch. My interest was piqued when the first heading in Letters was “Sub Standards.” To paraphrase the movie Cool Hand Luke, what we have here is a communication impasse. Both the teacher in Mr. Cech’s article [“Totally Engrossed,” January/February] and the response from Ms. Moore represent opposite ends of the spectrum occupied by persons acting as substitute teachers. As with many human endeavors, some come to help, others just for the money, and some to avoid the stagnation of retirement. With such a varied group, we get a variety of ability and talent.
I am just finishing my fifth year of substituting. I was a business major and spent 30 years working in the electric utility industry. I never realized that my “retirement” hobby would turn into such an enjoyable experience. Being a nonteacher, it was an enlightening experience to begin subbing. There were no formal classes, just a substitute handbook and “best wishes” for on-the-job training. The main equipment needed are people skills, proper disciplinary ability, flexibility, and respect for student individuality. I find that by and large, my teachers leave adequate lesson plans that will continue the student’s learning at perhaps 80 percent of normal. Without knowing the teacher she is replacing, or the teacher’s style, I’ll venture Ms. Moore does little better.
There are some, of course, that fill the bill by merely being the certified person in the classroom; they also fill a need.
James F. Wimmer