How do long term subs affect students' learning? -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

How do long term subs affect students' learning?

February 8, 2006

Albany -- Remember when you were a kid, you got excited to find out you had a substitute teacher at school. That's because it usually meant less work and more time to talk with friends.

Well, one day of missed lessons won't impact a child's educate much, but what happens when a sub takes over for a long term?

On any given day, more than 100 substitute teachers head classes in Dougherty County. Right now, there are more than 60 long-term subs teaching our children.

Long-term subs are called in when a teacher must missed more than three weeks of school.

When student Keith Adkins walked into a history class today and saw a substitute teacher, he knew what to expect. "Busy work, vocab, work book pages," said Keith.

Adkins says most subs simply give out some busy work and tell students to stay quiet. Not much new learning goes on, but three year sub Charlie Quarterman has a better goal for these students. "To learn something, not just do the work. To learn and take something from the classroom even though the teacher, the regular teacher, is not here," he said.

The Dougherty County School System requires substitute teachers have completed at least 45 semester hours in college, have no criminal background. And subs must pass a four hour training program.

The requirements for long-term subs, who take over classes when a teacher misses more than 15 days, are the same. "Many of are long term subs, and sub in general, are retired teacher. We have some retired military," said Dougherty County School System Human Resources Director Dr. Carolyn Hand.

Dr. Hand says when looking for long-term subs, the system usually tries to find someone with at least a bachelor's degree or experience in the subject. Dr. Hand says a teacher often requests a certain sub. "That teacher may know maybe a retired teacher who's on our sub list, or someone who has been in that position for a certain length of time who is not a certified teacher but who can do the job."

And teachers must leave detailed lesson plans for the long-term sub. "That lesson plan is geared towards whatever is supposed to be done in the classroom to help those students in that particular subject area," said Dr. Hand.

Administrators at the school are supposed to routinely check in on subs to make sure those lessons are being taught, so students don't miss out on learning just because their teachers are missing some work.

Dr. Hand says parents who are concerned their student's long-term sub is not doing a good job, should go straight to the principal.

State law requires a sub be removed from the classroom after 45 consecutive days, but they can go back to that same class after just one day away.