The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

“I miss my teacher…”

The struggle of long-term substitutes and change

Change is an often unwelcome enemy. It’s natural for people to resist change, and change in your teacher mid-year is not easy.

Ask any student, chances are they have had a long-term substitute teacher at some point in their lives, whether it be elementary, middle or high school.

Students often struggle to continue their learning in those classes, or require support from neighboring teachers. IB Literature teacher Stephanie Hanson recently went on leave, but not without leaving her students in the best possible hands. 

“We have lesson plans written out, so it’s got all of the materials created but it’s also got instructions,” said IB Literature 1 teacher Julia Hanneman. “For things I was worried about with the HL essay, I made an Edpuzzle, so that all of the kids could get the same information and have all of the responses sent to me so I could be there to check them.”

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Apart from the teacher shortage, there has also been a substitute shortage in FCPS for years. It is becoming more and more difficult to find substitute teachers with relevant experience.

“Our teacher sends plans, but there’s only so much that a person without experience can do with them,” said junior Teagan Scott-Daniels. “Especially since some of the substitutes don’t have a background in what they’re teaching.”

In most cases, teachers leave slides or assignments to read through and complete on your own. This can be unhelpful in the learning process, not really allowing information to be absorbed fully.

“Our teacher is out for the rest of the school year,” said Scott-Daniels. “[Our teacher] will make slide shows and then we do the work.”

Some teachers are lucky with the experience of their substitutes, though.

“I got all of my resources organized by unit, and provided them to the long term substitute,” said IB Physics teacher David Tyndall. “That was a special circumstance where the long term substitute was a physics teacher. That’s really hard to get. I was very fortunate in that case, for my first child.”

Tyndall relied on the support of other physics teachers in the school to help his students.

“All of the physics teachers provided a huge amount of support,” Tyndall said. “It would have been much more difficult without [the other teachers]. Because the three of us have taught together for so long, and because we’ve taught each other’s preps. We know how we operate.”

No teacher wants to leave their students in the dark, or feeling like they’re on their own. But, most times it is out of their control.

“It was still difficult because in the back of my mind, while I was gone, I was thinking about what should be happening in my classes,” Tyndall said. “That was difficult, but when you take leave it’s usually because you need to be somewhere else, so you set it up and let it ride.”

The transition is usually what makes having a long term substitute so difficult for many students.

“In each case, it was a tough transition,” Tyndall said. “Whenever your teacher changes it’s gonna be a hard shift. Change is hard, especially in physics where you have this difficult content. The content is stressful enough that any other change is an additional stress.”

“I mean, your teacher is your teacher for a reason,” Hanneman said. “Your teacher is trained and majored in your subject, and is a part of that team. It’s always difficult when someone else comes into a situation and doesn’t know the kids, or doesn’t know the material that well.”

Utilizing other teachers in the same subject can be a great help if you’re struggling with a teacher being gone. Keeping up is going to be difficult, and although it may feel like a choice to do the work or not, it will be worth it in the long run.

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About the Contributor
Morgan Milman
Morgan Milman, Academics Editor
Senior Morgan Milman is in her first year of journalism as the Academics Editor. She plays for the varsity volleyball team and dives for the swim & dive team. In her free time she likes to paint, read, hangout with friends; she plans to study environmental policy in college.

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