When regular classroom teachers are absent, Nebo School District officials want more than just a baby sitter taking over.
District officials say the education process should not stop when substitute teachers take over, but research shows that often that is what is happening.Karl Wilson, an educational specialist for the district, said he found that when substitute teachers take over they often do not know what is expected of them and therefore have a difficult time teaching the class. When this happens, Wilson said, the substitute ends up being a classroom baby sitter.
"We saw that we as educators are concerned about what is going on when the regular teacher is absent," Wilson said.
Besides not knowing what is expected of them, Wilson said many substitutes lack sufficient training. He said that regular teachers are not adequately providing substitutes with a lesson plan and a set of class and school rules.
"There have been many substitutes and principals frustrated over the lack of a lesson plan," Wilson said.
To ensure that learning is not interrupted when regular teachers are absent, the district has already taken steps to provide substitute teachers with better training. In February, 30 of the district's most frequent substitute teachers attended a three-day workshop where they were taught the essential elements of instruction and the district's teaching methods.
"We have received great feedback on that workshop from the substitutes who attended," Wilson said.
The district also took some of the substitutes' feedback and combined it with recommendations from district principals and teachers to create a substitute teacher manual. The manual includes a list of expectations, teaching strategies for creating a more effective classroom environment, ways to handle discipline problems and district policies.
"Those substitutes want to carry on and have a high expectation that learning will continue," Wilson said.
Each school will also have its own manual. Those manuals will include information on such things as attendance procedure, bell schedule, assembly seating, parking, lunch procedure, discipline policy and a school directory.
Jack Leifson, public relations specialist, said the district is also encouraging regular teachers to communicate with substitute teachers before leaving. Regular teachers will have to provide substitutes with a class information sheet and a lesson plan schedule for each class period.
The substitute will pick the information up from the school secretary before taking over the class. After school the substitute will complete a form evaluating each class period.
"What we hope is that we don't lose the thrust of learning," Leifson said.
Some members of the Nebo School Board said it may be beneficial to hire several certified teachers to serve as district substitutes. But Errol Smith, finance administrator, said the district could only hire about 10 teachers with the amount it normally allocates for substitute teachers and that would not meet the district needs.
Leifson said the district hopes to have the substitute teacher workshop again next year.