In a world where knowledge is power, there are few with greater influence than teachers. They are champions of education, dedicating their lives to shaping young minds and inspiring generations of students to love learning. This year for Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8-12) we’re celebrating the unsung heroes of the education world: substitute teachers. To all the subs out there–you are appreciated, valued, and admired. Keep up the good work!
For Stepping Up When Needed
Imagine being called on at a moment’s notice to step into a classroom full of students you have never met. For substitute teachers, this is an everyday occurrence. It takes a special kind of person to confidently guide a group of eager minds through a day of learning.
Our Sub of the Month for December 2022 Micah Thompson steps up regularly. He responds to calls at the crack of dawn without fail, and if he’s not available, he looks at the week ahead and picks up other jobs to ensure every classroom is filled with knowledge.
For Remaining Calm Under Pressure
Being a substitute teacher is not an easy job. It requires a unique set of skills, such as flexibility, adaptability, and resilience. Subs have to adjust to different classrooms, curriculums, and teaching styles, often at a moment’s notice. They have to establish rapport with students who may be unfamiliar with them, earn their trust and respect, and create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all. They also must deal with unexpected situations like disruptive students, emergencies, or technical difficulties—all while remaining calm and professional in the face of challenges.
Our November 2022 Sub of the Month Butch Ritter is a rockstar when it comes to adapting to changes on the fly. He’s consistently ready to lend a helping hand. His positivity and cool demeanor inspires students to be their best selves.
For Dealing with Unexpected Situations
Substitute teachers often bring fresh perspectives and new approaches to the classroom, which can be a great benefit to both the students and the school. When faced with unexpected challenges, such as a disruptive student or a lesson plan that doesn’t align with their own teaching style, substitutes must think on their feet and find creative solutions to keep the class on track. It takes a special kind of person to handle these challenges with grace and composure.
Beloved by students and fellow teachers alike, Morgan Hunter Education’s March 2023 Sub of the Month Annie Budimlija is a classroom management guru who brings her A-game to deal with the unknown. Her communication skills and optimism help her excel during times of stress.
“I try to focus on the positive things throughout the day and forget about the negative. Not every day is easy, but remembering it’s only for a day or short time period makes it easier,” she said.
For Volunteering Your Time
It’s inspiring to see substitute teachers go above and beyond in their duties, volunteering their time both inside and outside the classroom. These individuals are a testament to the power of selfless acts of kindness and dedication to the education of future generations. From leading after-school clubs to coaching sports teams, substitute teachers who volunteer their time make a tremendous impact on the lives of students. They are not just filling in for the absent teacher, but rather becoming an integral part of the school community.
Our October 2022 Sub of the Month Shawna Vetter was inspired to become a substitute teacher after volunteering at her child’s school.
“I really felt a vested interest in being a sub who genuinely wanted to help the kids learn and grow,” she said. “My first assignment was in my favorite class, the library. Our librarian even gave me the sayings she uses in her classes for different things they do so I could be consistent with the kids. I eventually branched out to the other specials at my kids’ elementary school and then as a grade level teacher.”
For Appreciating Each Day
Despite challenges, substitute teachers get to see firsthand how they can make a difference in the lives of students, even if it’s just for a day. They get to experience different teaching environments, discover new learning opportunities, and expand their own knowledge and skills. They also get to work with a variety of educators, share best practices, and experience gratitude from the students they teach.
“There are many memories during my time as a substitute, but what stands out are the times when the students draw me a picture, thank me for being there, or asking if I could be their permanent teacher. That is how I know I’ve effectively done my job,” says this past January’s Sub of the Month Matt Smith.
Celebrate Subs Every Day
Let’s appreciate and celebrate substitute teachers not just on Teacher Appreciation Day, but every day. We can do this by acknowledging their hard work, thanking them for their service, and recognizing their impact on students’ lives. We can also support them by providing them with adequate training, resources, and feedback, and by valuing their professional development and career growth. Substitute teaching is a vital part of the education system and a viable career option for those who seek to make a difference in students’ lives.