At the beginning of the 2017-2018 Blind Brook school year, a new substitute teacher plan was put into place. Students are now required report to the auditorium when their teachers are absent. Attendance is taken in these makeshift classes, just like it would in a normal period, to make sure all the students are accounted for.
The classes that need to go to the auditorium are written daily on the whiteboard placed in front of the stairs going up towards the 2nd floor high school classrooms. They are also posted on the T.V. in the Commons. For the first week or so of school, the new system was on trial basis.
Trying to make the best of this situation, the auditorium stage has been accommodated with a table and chairs to mimic a classroom environment. The school has also purchased lap desks for student to use if they need a hard surface or more space, and do not want to use the table provided.
The permanent substitutes that will be manning the auditorium during times of teacher absences are Rosie DeRosa, Sue Palmiter, and Mari-Anne Baumann. They take turns rotating on who stays in the auditorium. They say “it is the best of the situation, and the students who want to get the work done, are able to get it done”. Teacher Christine Sabatella says that there are both pros and cons to the new system. She says. “The pros are that it takes a lot of pressure off of the administration when it comes to hiring substitutes and finding them in time, and a con is that accountability of the students decreases, and so do the limits of what the teachers can leave as an activity”.
Vice Principal Derek Schulien says, “This is simply to cover the class. The goal is to resolve a problem we were having which was being able to find subs to cover the classes required”.
He also says that the school could not find any substitutes to hire, and they needed a solution. In the past, Schulien had to resort to asking other teachers to substitute for a period, right before the period they were needed started. This took up the teacher’s time, and did not benefit other students who may have needed to see a teacher for extra help the period they were subbing for another class. This new system does save the district money, though its implementation was not driven by cost.
When asked, some students feel that having to sit in the auditorium is a waste of class time, and sets back productivity. Many feel that not only is the environment itself distracting, but being surrounded by other students is as well. However, some feel that the new lap desks are a good way to address the problem of productivity, and that the tables on the stage help keep the ambiance somewhat similar to a classroom. Other students think of the table as another way keep isolated from peers that may be distracting to their work. In a few instances, some students have not shown up in the auditorium when they are supposed to and a handful of those who do, leave and re-enter the room, distracting the substitute, and cause chaos throughout. This can be problematic for students who need strict order in the classroom to work productively, especially for the students who have a hard time focusing in the first place.
In the end, it’s agreed by many that the new sub system is the best way to handle the situation, even though it may not be ideal to all.