Substitute Teachers: Friend or Foe?

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Nicolette Weinbaum ’12
Staff Writer

During an average day at Staples, there is a constant flow of unfamiliar faces in the hallways. They are better known as … the substitutes.

A student walks into their social studies class, expecting to see their same teacher, provide yet another pop quiz on the Industrial Revolution. Instead, they are greeted by a smiling face that they do not recognize, and apparently they feel a sudden sigh of relief- it’s a substitute.

The substitutes are temporaries that fill in for teachers that are taking a personal day, have gotten an illness, or are on maternity leave.

With the different opinions surfacing around the school about whether or not substitutes during the week are beneficial or detrimental, it was imperative that an investigation be made on what students really feel about the occasional drop in of a substitute.

Gwen Moyer ’11 says that substitute teachers during the week can have a negative effect on the material they are learning, and the flow of the week.

“Substitutes usually set back my week for learning because you don’t have to really do anything that day… we normally just talk to each other in class.”

Moyer also says that negative aspects of substitute teachers consist of the unfortunate circumstances when they come in the day before an exam, and the test review not as strong as when a teacher would be there.

Although some students feel that substitute teachers can be a gap in the curriculum, others feel that it is an essential time of relaxation that students need during the week.

Ben Aldrich ’11 says substitute teachers are what keep him going.

“Substitute teachers are a necessary break in my week. It creates a stress free environment. I’ll still do the work required, but there’s less anxiety knowing there’s a substitute in the room rather than your teacher,” Aldrich said.

While the level of difficulty of the substitute may be imperative to some, many students have expressed a need to speak up about the unfair treatment substitutes have received from students.

Sofia Ribolla ’12 says that substitutes are not treated reasonably.

“Students do abuse substitutes during class,” Ribolla said. “But some substitutes do put it upon themselves. A few just walk into the class and don’t know what they’re doing.”

Ribolla says it is sad that they are constantly taken advantage of, because they come to class with the best of intentions- to help students.

Cyndianne Gates, a substitute teacher who has been working at Staples for 11 years, feels that there are some classes that do attempt to take advantage of her, but the more they get to know her, the less it happens.

“Most of the time I do feel respected by students, because the students know me so well. The upperclassmen know me a lot better, so it’s just easier with them,” Gates said.

“Freshman do try to get away with things like ‘open book quizzes’ and ‘partner work’, but they don’t get away with it when I’m around. I know what’s going on.”

The aftermath of substitutes being taken advantage of however, according to Moyer, is more severe than with a regular teacher.

“Kids are definitely more inclined to act out when the subs are there. I’ve heard about a lot of stories where kids are constantly sent to the Assistant Principals office because they were acting out. It happens more often with a sub than if the actual teacher was there,” Moyer said. “But they keep the school running, no one can deny that.”