Respect Substitute Teachers

Lisa Li, Staff Writer

When you walk into a classroom and are welcomed by the face of a substitute teacher (nicknamed Mr. T), you either smile in delight knowing that it’s going to be an easy period, or frown in frustration because having a substitute teacher means the chapter test that you wanted to get over with would be postponed. Nevertheless, you could feel the once-quiet atmosphere begin to melt into giggles and whispers as your classmates gossip and chatter.

 After Mr. T’s effort to calm down the boisterous class, he begins the agonizing process of taking attendance. As he mispronounces students’ names, their laughter only exacerbates the rowdiness within the classroom. Have you ever noticed a few of your classmates disregarding Mr. T completely and taking out their digital devices to play video games? 

In addition to enduring the students’ torment in the classroom, according to an article published by Kelly Education, substitute teachers are generally undervalued and underpaid. This leads to the question: why are substitute teachers treated so unfairly? 

The answer is very simple: it’s because we don’t pay enough respect to substitute teachers even though they are as deserving of respect as regularly employed teachers. To elaborate, substitute teachers are often stereotyped as unprepared and less knowledgeable in regard to the course curriculum in comparison to a normal teacher. Because of the substitute teacher’s unfamiliarity with the classroom environment, substitute teachers are taken advantage of by students, who yearn to test the boundaries of classroom rules. These disrespectful students often dismiss the consequences of their behavior because they assume impunity from substitute teachers, no matter how outrageous the behavior. This is very detrimental since it’s those teachers who help guide us and provide us with good educational paths. They are a source of knowledge and a harbor for students, which means that we ought to respect them in every way possible.

Moreover, according to, as of September 2022, the average annual pay for a high school substitute teacher in Arcadia, CA is $41,085. According to the same website, the average annual pay for a public school teacher is $52,880. The statistics indicate that substitute teachers are paid poorly even though they have to put in a similar amount of effort to design and understand lesson plans as regular teachers do, with the only difference being the short amount of time substitute teachers have to prepare in comparison. Paying substitute teachers such a low wage compared to regular teachers is a ubiquitous yet incorrect practice because substitute teachers are indispensable in our educational system. 

According to the National Educational Association, substitute teachers “serve as educational bridges when regular teachers are absent”. Substitute teachers keep the classrooms in order, and supervise and ensure quality education for all students. In addition, substitute teachers have to be highly qualified and educated, for they are required to hold a bachelor’s degree. Meaning, substitute teachers are qualified to teach in the same manner as regular teachers but are being met with far more disrespect in the classroom. Without substitute teachers, our educational journey would be full of days that are squandered away when our normal teachers are absent. Thus, everybody should respect their substitute teachers. 

Now that we have understood the dilemmas and importance of substitute teachers, what are ways that we could respect our substitute teachers? As students, we should not be rude or disruptive in class. Instead, we should behave politely and maintain a positive classroom environment as if the substitute teacher was our regular teacher. This would give the substitute teacher a sense of achievement and offer them the respect that they deserve for their hard work. Furthermore, awareness should be raised regarding the exploitation of substitute teachers so that regulations could be made to provide equal opportunities for them.

Next time you see Mr. T in the classroom, don’t forget to give him a warm greeting, complete tasks on time, and refrain from purposefully riling up the classroom. Everyone should learn the importance of substitute teachers like Mr. T in our educational system. After all, substitute teachers are indispensable.


Graphic courtesy of Katrina Reghitto