|The ninth annual Slice of Life Story|
Challenge is sponsored by the fabulous
team at Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, TWT
Last week I began experiencing severe cold symptoms, which became worse with each day. I didn't take a day off because I knew we had no subs available; however, by the time Monday arrived, I was too sick to work. I called in via our automated system and was fortunate enough to to avoid the "there are no subs available" message.
When we have no subs, our administrative secretary assigns the subs in the building to cover other classes during the prep period; she recruits teachers assigned student teachers classes to cover; she emails the staff and lists periods and teachers that still need covered. We're promised comp time when we cover a class, but with a sub shortage, it's hard to demand that time.
I haven't "covered"many classes this year because teaching a night class at the university and having a consulting gig put extra demands on my time; simply, I need my prep. Conversely, I don't like to impose on my colleagues to cover my classes when I'm gone.
I'm accustomed to dragging myself into work when I'm not 100% because I don't like having to delay speeches or having a sub listen to them. When I'm teaching Comm 1101 I can't have a sub evaluate speeches.
Earlier in my career, subs were readily available. But as the teacher shortage has increased, so too has the shortage of substitutes.
With alternative routes to certification the norm, and with many districts de-professionalizing teaching to the point that some states have abandoned the mandate that teachers have a bachelor's degree, it's no wonder that a trend toward classes self-subbing (read: students monitor themselves) has gained traction. A post on the Crumudgucation blog last summer offers a pointed critique of the problem of finding and keeping subs.
Often the sub pool is depleted when we have chronically absent staff. I've noticed that subs get assigned to these teachers first, leaving those of us who rarely miss with multiple people covering our classes. I'm troubled by this because I'm someone who misses few days.
Teachers know that missing school takes work, as a popular meme reminds us.
I had a fantastic sub Monday and try to make my classes pleasant for the sub so that they'll want to return. But the substitute teacher narrative has changed. The sub shortage is one more example of collateral damage brought to public education by the failed education reformers. It's enough to make me sick.