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  • Writer's pictureCesar Guerrero Isaias

Substitute Teachers & Their Influence: An Interview with Ms. Elizabeth Arundel

Teachers are crucial to the success of future generations. They mold the young brains of the community and give children the ability to learn and grow. Although teachers are praised for their work, what about substitute teachers? Step into the shoes of Ms. Elizabeth Arundel from Mayfair High School and see her point of view in the life of a substitute teacher.

Ms. Arundel has taught as a substitute teacher at Mayfair High School several times and recalls it as a very good experience. Ms. Arundel is normally a substitute and has never had her own classroom but has had long-term substitute assignments. She graduated from Cal-State Fullerton and enjoyed her time there. Currently, she works as a substitute teacher and prefers to work with middle and high school students. Upon being asked what made her decide she wanted to start teaching, she says, “I kind of fell into it, really. It was something I was going to do while I was working on something else, and then that something else never happened.”

Why be a substitute, you may ask? I asked what positive experiences she's had as a substitute, Ms. Arundel states, “You know, it's fun to watch students grow. I get to meet them for the first time in, like, the seventh grade, and I get to see them in the eighth grade, the ninth and tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade, and then when they finally graduate. And you get to see how they change and grow. It's always fun.” Ms. Arundel seems to have a very strong connection with her students despite the fact that she isn't their long-term teacher, yet she continues to show strong interest in teaching. Ms. Arundel points out how she loves the variety that comes with the job of substitute teacher and how interesting it is to change things up. She also points out how the challenging lessons and deep dives aren't necessarily given to these substitutes, which benefits her because it's already enough of a challenge since substitutes can't really get to a student like a normal teacher because they aren't taken seriously.

Regular teachers and substitute teachers are not to be confused with, for their lectures aren't the only things that are different; their differences also impact how strong the relationship is between the learner and the educator. “A full-time teacher gets more in-depth with students, and there's a better relationship there. I'm more ‘hit and run’. I see you for a short time, and it's not always on the best days.” Substitutes face challenges that regular teachers never face. Although regular teachers have a few issues as their students warm up to them, substitutes do not have that opportunity because of how short their visits are with their students. Ms. Arundel comments that “I am taken less seriously (as a substitute). Just because a teacher isn't in the room sometimes, you kind of take a mental break. And well, although that's not a bad thing, it just tends to be all we see.”

Although I haven't had Ms. Arundel personally, she seems like a teacher who would really enjoy having closer relations with her students but can't achieve it since she's only a substitute, but she is willing to put in the effort and provide assistance during the time she is in the class with the fresh minds of her students. Her ongoing efforts to reach her students and help them grow during the limited time they have are evident, and hopefully her students could learn from her amazing work.

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