Substitutes Should Be Applauded
Being a substitute teacher is a daunting challenge, especially in high school, and too often an unrecognized act of courage (“Don’t Hire Substitute Teachers in High School,” Aug. 22, 2012). In a matter of minutes, our heroic substitute needs to evaluate, organize, and present the important concepts, goals, and objectives for each lesson. Creating the climate for learning is the goal of each educator, and the substitute is no exception.
Choosing a reliable and effective substitute is the responsibility of each school district. Schools of excellence take the time to interview prospective substitutes, as well as prepare, evaluate, and observe their work.
On the other hand, there are districts that undervalue the importance of the substitute teacher. They have little time to coach, nurture, evaluate, or advise them. They believe substitutes are useless, wasteful, and unimportant. It is no wonder substitutes often feel fearful, invisible, and underappreciated.
The National Education Association, in support of substitutes and their hard work, has made an effort to celebrate substitutes during National Teacher Appreciation Week in early May. In addition, stedi.org (formerly known as the Substitute Teaching Institute) promotes the importance of substitute teachers through advocacy and recognition awards.
Substitute teaching can easily be thought of as a thankless job. As we embark on a new school year, let us all include and welcome, encourage, and support our tireless substitute teachers as important shareholders in our children’s education and give them the forgotten respect that they deserve.
Joseph A. De Leo
New York University
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the September 12, 2012 edition of Education Week as Substitutes Should Be Applauded