Celebrating our Substitute Teachers

Head of School

It goes without saying that substitute teachers have an absolutely necessary role in K-12 schools like the FIS. As is the case with permanent teachers, leadership, and staff, schools would have a difficult time functioning without substitute teachers.

On any given day, teachers are absent due to illness, professional development, and family leave. Without substitute teachers, these minor hiccups could cause major complications: instruction is interrupted, classes are doubled up, and preparation periods are lost. Without capable substitute teachers at the ready, teacher absences can have a domino effect that impacts the entire school. Our substitute teachers provide concurrency of learning at the FIS, unlike other school systems where classes before unstructured study periods or in some cases students can simply go home.

Maintaining the quality and consistency of learning on an ongoing basis means having a qualified professional in every classroom. And since teacher absences are a dynamic phenomenon, the ability to seamlessly compensate for their occurrence while maintaining continuity and minimizing disruptions is invaluable. Our substitute teachers at the FIS contribute to maintaining progress in the learning environment, thereby helping to promote student achievement.

Being a substitute teacher requires flexibility, organization, and a calm demeanor. Teachers anticipate that substitutes will follow lesson plans and reinforce behavioral guidelines. They expect them to supervise students appropriately and to safeguard classroom equipment and supplies. Substitutes may fill in for individual days when a teacher needs to attend an event elsewhere or takes a sick day. Long-term ‘subs’ may fill in for weeks or months at a time because of a teacher’s medical leave.

However, there are times though few and far between, when our pool of substitute teachers is stretched. This is the case of the moment before of increased staff absences with COVID. Nonetheless, in such situations, it is not the same as having the regular class teacher deliver the lesson. While we do our best to negate such incidents, our sub teachers do not know the individual needs of students or the place of that particular lesson in a scheme of work as assigned class or subject teacher.

Thank you to our sub teachers and substitute teacher coordinator for helping ensure the continuity of learning in trying times.

Our regular teachers do also support with subbing and this can be a rewarding and insightful experience seeing our students in a slightly different learning environment that we may be used to as educators. The following is an insight of a subbing lesson taught by our Head of Primary, Ms. Appel:

“Today I subbed a grade 11 German class – it was such a joy! As I walked into the class, I realized these focussed and independent students had been in grade 5 when I was in my first year as Principal. We quickly connected, and all went on a trip down memory lane. Eight of the ten students in the class had been part of the school for many years. Their key memories of primary included: Ms. Manna’s cactus, Number the Stars, Battle of the Books, traveling to Hawaii and never coming back, classes with green sofas and bean bags to sit on, and chess club with Mrs. Andrews are only a few fond memories shared.

I asked students to choose a word or phrase to describe their experience in Primary School:
Fun, free, entertaining, and worth remembering…

And what they were grateful for:
A community that supported me when it was tough…

It was such a pleasure to see the wonderful adults those Grade 5s had become, so on their behalf, thank you!”

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