The need for substitute teachers is greater now than ever before

Across the nation you will be hard pressed to find a state (and maybe a district) that is not dealing with classrooms that are left without a substitute teacher on multiple days in any given month. We are no different in the Marshalltown Community School District. Whether there is a shortage of available substitutes or an abundance of absenteeism or a combination of both is a debate for another day. What there is no debate about today is the fact that need for substitute teachers is greater now than ever.

To understand why the role of a substitute teacher is so important we must understand what the consequences are for a school when an absent teacher’s classroom results in what we call an “unfilled absence.” An unfilled absence means that no substitute is available to cover the duties of the absent teacher. For example, let’s consider what would happen if a third grade classroom teacher’s absence was unfilled.

The building principal must spend valuable time planning coverage for the unfilled absence. There are a number of ways to fill in the coverage gaps in this scenario. One method frequently used is to assign existing teachers within the building to cover parts of the instruction time in said third grade classroom. In this scenario those existing teachers give up their planning time during the day to provide coverage. When other teachers are unavailable, the principal often steps in to provide coverage. Neither of these options are preferable but our teachers and principals are dedicated to making sure that students do not lose quality instruction time.

I believe solving the problem of “unfilled absences” requires a multi-pronged approach. One of the prongs of the solution is to have a robust pool of substitute teachers. We have dedicated and passionate substitute teachers in our district. They come from different career paths whether they are aspiring teachers, retired teachers or those who have never been a teacher prior to being a substitute teacher but have a passion for helping children succeed.

I would like to invite anyone who has that passion who may be interested becoming a substitute teacher to do so with our district. To learn more about how to become a substitute teacher contact Corinne Kapsner, Human Resources Assistant, at or 641-754-1000. To learn more information about how to obtain a substitute authorization license from the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners please visit .


Anthony Spurgetis is Director of Human

Resources for the Marshalltown Community School District.