Monday, January 3, 2011

The Substitute Teacher Problem

***This was originally posted on The Chicago Moms***

The girls’ teacher (Mrs. P) has been on emergency leave since Thanksgiving. Her husband was in a serious car accident while patrolling on Thanksgiving Day. As a result, he broke both legs, an arm and a wrist. He’s in bad shape and we all understand that Mrs. P needs to be home right now.

The girls had the same substitute for all of December. She’s a nice woman who used to teach full-time at another school. The good news is there is consistency as they have the same substitute every day. The problem is she is a substitute.

Mrs. P did a good job differentiating within the class. She had four levels of work to make sure all students were challenged to their abilities. She worked with different groups to monitor each student’s progress and move students between levels based upon the student’s needs. She did all of these things in part because this is how our district works. Mrs. P did other things because she was truly interested in each student. In short, she was wonderful.

Now they have a substitute who lumps all the students together into one low-level group. She wasn’t trained to differentiate, and she doesn’t make any effort to do so. Somehow the students are so well-behaved each day that they “earn” extra recess or free play time. On the one hand, she is doing what needs to be done to meet the state standards. She does make sure students know what they need to to do well on the ISAT and MAP tests. On the other hand, only some of the students’ needs are being met.

The biggest problem right now is that no one knows when Mrs. P will be able to return.

We’ve been talking about this a lot during the break. The girls are bored in school. They come home every day complaining about how easy the work is and how much they miss Mrs. P. We know we need to talk to the school about how to better meet our girls’ learning needs. It’s a delicate balance because we need to advocate for our daughters without coming off as difficult parents. We’re trying to figure out how much we can ask of a substitute teacher, but if she’s going to be there for months on end, can we still think of her as the substitute? I think it’s only a question we can answer after we speak with the girls’ principal.

1 comment:

Noelle said...

If it looks like Mrs. P won't be back after 60 days it would be in the best interests of the entire class if the school could meet with the sub and train her to work with the students in levels. That's a significant enough amount of time that your girls have been losing out on the level of education they require. It always helps to go in with a possible solution when you meet with admin. Hope things work out and that the girls (and Mrs. Ps family!) are back to normal soon.