Mike Teng is Swing Education’s CEO and co-founder.
The best way to understand why substitute teachers play such an integral part of education is with this surprising fact: The average student will spend nearly a full year of their K-12 academic career with a substitute teacher.
What does this mean? In short, without America’s 600,000-plus substitute teachers, students would miss out on hundreds of days of quality instruction — and thousands of learning opportunities.
Making learning possible is just one of the many reasons why substitute teachers are deserving of our gratitude, however. And with Substitute Teacher Appreciation Week now here, I wanted to take some time to reflect on a few more ways substitute teachers help students succeed.
They Make a Profound Impact
I was fortunate enough to be a part of the judging process for the inaugural class of the Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame. We received submissions from coast to coast, highlighting many of our nation’s great substitute teachers.
The nominations were a terrific reminder of just how much substitute teachers impact school communities. We heard from teachers who had to be out due to serious medical challenges whose substitutes provided peace of mind and facilitated continued classroom learning. We heard from administrators whose substitute teachers inspired students in after-school clubs and sports teams. And we even heard from students and families who expressed appreciation for substitute teachers who made coming to school fun and rewarding.
It Takes a Special Kind of Person
Substitute teaching is many great things, but “routine” is not necessarily one of them.
Subs face new environments, new students, and new subjects on a regular basis. It takes a special kind of individual to be comfortable leading a kindergarten class one day and a middle-school class the next, seamlessly moving from subject to subject and age group to age group.
They Have a Necessary Role
These are two of the many truths in K-12 education:
- Schools cannot operate without responsible adults.
- Teachers are sometimes absent, whether it be due to illness, PD, leave, or any number of other reasons.
It goes without saying, then, that substitute teachers have an absolutely necessary role in K-12 education. As is the case with permanent teachers, administrators, and support staff, schools would have a difficult time functioning without substitute teachers.
They Help with School Community Morale
One of the biggest benefits substitute teachers provide to school communities is a boost in morale.
When schools don’t have enough quality substitute teachers, teachers might have to give up prep periods to cover for an absent colleague. Or, worse yet, schools may even combine classes.
But when schools do have a strong group of quality subs, permanent teachers can take full advantage of professional development and shadowing opportunities. Administrators don’t have to pause their normal duties to cover classes. And students get more consistent, higher-quality instruction.
In other words, substitute teachers help all school staff serve students in the best way possible, which goes a long way toward improving morale.
They Keep Students Ahead of the Game
I mentioned earlier that students spend nearly a full year of their academic career with a substitute teacher. But what would happen if substitute teachers didn’t exist? How many students would miss out on key instruction or fall behind their peers?
Substitute teachers ensure that students continue to learn — even when life happens and teachers are absent. So on behalf of everyone at Swing Education, thank you to substitute teachers everywhere for the vital, impactful work you do. K-12 education would not work without you.
About Swing Education
Swing Education matches high-quality substitute teachers with schools that need them. Contact us today to learn how we can help meet your substitute teacher needs.