Keeping classrooms running

Substitute teachers’ impact on school


Photo by and used with permission of Tammy Johnson

Tammy Johnson, substitute teacher, teaches at LZ.

Emma Harper, Staff Writer

Substitute teachers are an essential part of keeping the classroom running as teachers are not always able to be in the building. Both substitutes and students agree that the classroom flows differently when the regular teacher is not in the room.

While a substitute’s job may seem similar to a teacher’s job, they are very different. For instance, a substitute might have to teach lessons on topics they have not taught before or that they have little first-hand knowledge of, which may make it difficult for them to teach the lesson.

“It can be hard to adjust [to teaching a new subject or topic], which is why I have a tendency to take jobs from teachers or departments that I have been in a lot because I am more comfortable in those departments, but if teachers leave detailed plans, it makes a substitute teacher’s job so much easier,” Sally Kutsor, who has been a substitute for nine years, said.

And teachers are very helpful, according to Kutsor. Teachers in the specific department the substitute is teaching in will welcome the substitute in the morning and answer any questions before the start of the school day. But despite all of the help, sometimes there are still difficulties.

“I’m taking somebody else’s plans and instituting them, but I don’t quite have the [same] relationships [as the teachers do] with the students because I don’t see them on a daily basis; [however] I sub frequently enough that I have gotten to know many of [students’] names,” Kutsor said.

And because a substitute teacher does not have a connection with the students, Sienna Makhlouf, sophomore, says “the environment changes when there is a substitute teacher in the room” because students act differently.

“[Substitute teachers] are good at controlling the classroom, but they’re not very good at knowing or figuring out how the room runs,” Makhlouf said.

But while substitutes may have some challenges adapting to the classroom, Nick Schroeder, junior, says substitutes are essential to the school.

“[Substitutes are] there to step in whenever a teacher isn’t available for school or if they want to take some time off; teachers are people, too. They need their time off, so subs are there to step in to keep schools running,” Schroeder said.

Substitutes try their best to educate their students in the absence of the teacher. However, sometimes it is a struggle to keep students engaged and participating during the class.

“If [students] know me, they are willing to talk and participate during the lesson,” Kutsor said, “but most of the time students are pretty quiet [during class].”

A moment that was particularly memorable for Tammy Johnson, who has been a substitute for six years, was when a student told her “Ms. Johnson you always were positive. It was always a pleasure to have you in class. Things like that really hit me, that really made my day,” Johnson said.

Johnson said her favorite part about being a substitute is when “[the students] take the time to say hello and I feel like maybe I’ve impacted their lives a little bit.”