By Kate Lee,
Although teachers seem to be able capable of many things, from catching the sneakiest cheaters to grading papers for hours, teachers are not superheroes. They need days off too, and that is where substitute teachers come to the rescue.
Davis High substitute coordinator, Kimberly Perez, said it is difficult to find substitutes on Mondays and Fridays. Most absences are due to illness or family illness, which means last-minute calls out to substitutes.
Sophomore Makenna Rubinstein likes having sub days.
“Usually sub days are more relaxing, and give you more time to be productive and catch up on your work, since there’s not a new lecture or lesson. Some subs like to play games, but that’s only good if they’re still able to control the class and follow the lesson plan,” Rubinstein said.
Sophomore Eli Inkelas agrees with Rubinstein on what makes a good substitute.
“The sub has to have enough control over the class so that students are willing to follow their instructions, but not so much that the students are uncomfortable,” Inkelas said.
However, Inkelas feels that the days he has substitutes are typically much less productive.
According to Perez, a substitute teacher must at DHS must have a teaching credential or a 30-day sub permit. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing says substitutes cannot serve more than 30 days for any one teacher per school year.
Most substitutes go into a classroom with a primary goal in mind: to carry out the teacher’s lesson plan and help the students not lose a day in their education.
Sharon Cain, a substitute at DHS, has teaching credentials in several states and was a university instructor. To help make sure the students are not losing a day in their education, she demands respect in the classroom, using Robert’s Rules of Order, created by a general in the Army to make orderly, successful communication.
“I can just say ‘ladies and gentlemen’ once in a classroom and boom, it’s a dead stop. I show respect for my students, too. When they have a question, I have to be a respectful listener,” Cain said.
Melody Ewey is a second year substitute who is currently only subbing at Cesar Chavez Elementary to accommodate her schedule. Ewey noticed there were often shortages of substitute teachers.
“I’m just happy to help out the teachers. I think the teachers know I am capable of following through with the lesson plan,” Ewey said.
Ewey has been in the education field before, and knows what it takes for teachers to prep lesson plans, so she does her best to honor them. However, in the occasional situation that a teacher leaves very few lesson plans, she always brings a back up, like a writing prompt or different math riddles, to make sure the students’ time in class is not wasted.
Melody Matthews, who currently teaches science at Montgomery Elementary, was a substitute teacher for five years. Whenever she subbed for younger grades in preschool and elementary school, she said it was important to make the students feel like the day was not chaotic without their regular teacher. Matthews went into every classroom hoping be able to follow the lesson plan, be able to help the students learn, and have a good time.
“You could always tell when the regular teacher had good classroom control, because those classes always behaved for me, too,” Matthews said.
Ewey, Matthews and Cain all agreed that they were substitute teachers primarily because they liked being with the students and developing good relationships with them.
Ewey knows a lot of students a Chavez and “they look forward to having [her] as a sub and that;s always a nice feeling.”
“I especially liked going back to the same classes over and over again where I got to know the kids better and developed a relationship with them,” Matthews said.
Cain tries to help instill skills in students that will prepare them for the university level because of her experience as a university instructor.
“I feel absolutely connected to the students and the high school age group, and what they’re trying to achieve in preparations for college,” Cain said.