Are you confident that the substitute teachers in your building are properly trained for the job?'s Teacher Poll of the Week
Are you confident that the substitute teachers in your building are properly trained for the job?

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A disturbing majority of teachers, almost three quarters, feel that the substitute teachers in their building are not properly trained for the job. Is this a reflection of teacher training or the difficult job that substitute teachers take on?

Substitute teachers are, by definition, fill ins for the regular classroom teacher. Should the regular teacher require time off for illness or personal reasons, then a substitute is called in to replace them. The difficulty for any replacement is determining exactly what the students have been working on. Even with detailed notes from the regular teacher it is often difficult to know where things stand.

The other difficulty is that the substitute teacher may not be knowledgeable on the subject or subjects they are required to teach. When you have a regularly assigned classroom full of students and are in charge of lesson planning there is the opportunity to prep for the teaching time. Teachers should obviously know what they are teaching. If they have been teaching the same grade level for a number of years, the course material is very familiar. Imagine coming into a classroom which is learning about Ancient Mesopotamia and you haven't read anything on the subject since your own school days? It must be fairly intimidating.

Substitute teachers have a hard job. They are not familiar with the students, individual learning styles, and the course material. Is it any wonder that they are not as effective as the regular classroom teacher?

All teachers undertake the same level of schooling to obtain their teaching certificate. Many teachers enter their school district's employment record as substitutes and may not get a regular position for a number of years. During this time, they gain valuable experience. However, even the most experienced teacher encounters the same difficulties when substituting in a classroom.

The only way to ensure that substitute teachers are more familiar with course material is to only call in teachers to substitute for certain grade levels. So if you are a Grade 4 teacher you only fill in Grade 4 classes. However, the opportunity for work would be very limited and so the current situation where substitutes are called in for various grade levels stands. While many teachers feel that substitute teachers are not properly trained, the problem seems to exist with the situation not the training.