Parents as Teachers

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Schools nationwide have been struggling with yet another problem mid-pandemic: a lack of substitute teachers. Texas has not been immune from this concern. According to a news story on the ABC 8 News website, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD needed 147 subs to cover teacher absences. They managed to secure 81. A principal for GCISG expressed sadness for the students and correctly stated, “It is the students who will pay the price” for the lack of staffing.

Dallas ISD is reaching into their pockets and paying substitutes an additional $50.00 per day with no limit on how much they can work according to the news story. An expensive, but necessary proposition. To maintain a degree of consistency in the classroom, some Texas districts have invited eligible parents to serve as paid substitute teachers. I think that is a good idea. Apparently, not many parents do. One large district in north Texas had only 3 parents sign up.

There are lots of reasons parents may not be able to substitute at local schools. Employment, lack of childcare, skill level, or lack of transportation could be obstacles. But for parents who can substitute a day here or there, subbing would provide opportunities for them to experience reality on the inside. For parents who are super kid friendly, the experience could be amazing because kids are a blast. For those who think all teachers are lazy or slackers, they will see and experience to a degree just how hard teachers work. For those who believe their neighborhood schools are education utopias, they’d better be prepared to have their visions rocked. And for those who insist their children are angels, they are not, but nothing will convince them otherwise so there’s that.

Parents stepping into the roles of substitute teachers could potentially improve the education environment and experience when parents are in the trenches and are experiencing the reality of campuses and classrooms. Many parents have no idea how extreme student behavior can be, how wide learning gaps are, how askew education priorities are or how many other facets of teaching and learning are compromised or otherwise lacking. I’d love to speak with a courageous parent who stepped up to be a substitute teacher. I’m confident the article that followed would be an eye-opener. 

Dr. Teresa Sanders
Dr. Sanders is an international bestselling author, education researcher and student and family advocate in the education setting. Dr. Sanders has presented at international education conferences and is the founder of Safari Small Schools, an innovative micro school in Canton, Texas. Dr. Sanders created Safari Small Schools to meet the needs of learners who aren’t thriving in the traditional classroom. Dr. Sanders can be reached at DrSanders@safarismallschools.com.