A Substitute Twist

Unexpected insight into the new way of subbing.


BHS Substitute Area

Danielle Spoden, Blueprint Writer


Your classroom seems quieter than usual as you make your way to the door. It looks shut and you see a white piece of paper there.

Dragging your feet closer you hesitantly read. “____ is out, periods 1, 2, 3 go to the cafeteria, periods 4 & 5 go to the auditorium,” You contemplate skipping, it’s not like you’ll learn anyways.

Is this really the best choice? How did they convince your teachers this would work? How did they convince the staff watching you this would work? Just stick with us and all your questions will be answered such as, do they actually care or do they think this is best. Blueprint staff was able to get an interview with one of these subs named ‘Nathan Voigt’ to better understand what this program was meant to be and how he feels it was implemented. 

Mr.Voigt, like many of the others currently working as subs in Anoka Hennepin, has been thrown into a new program of teaching this year as staff shortages hit not only this district hard but areas all across the world due to covid. 

This system was decided upon as a way of keeping children in a controlled learning environment despite not currently having the resources to do this within each class for every teacher who is out.

When asked how he felt this system was working he said “I think that all things considered, the system is working well. Since the beginning of the year, we have been working to improve the sub-center to what it is now. For example, we did not use table tents at the beginning of the year. We continue to balance accuracy and speed with the sign-in process to make everything run more smoothly.”

Though as this subbing process continues to improve, and seem more long-term, teachers are beginning to beg the question of whether their students will be learning anything while they’re gone. 

To this, Mr.Voigt said “I see many students working when I check in with each class. I like talking with students about what they are learning. There are definitely students who choose not to work and would rather talk with their friends.” 

Although he also said things get more complicated as more teachers are out of the school saying “When we have a large number of classes the volume may be distracting to those trying to work,” 

When this happens the staff do their best to take extra caution in keeping order. He said some things he personally pays attention to trying to do is to “have students sign-in/out in order to know where everyone is. Students sit with their class and are not allowed to mix with their friends. I also give volume warnings over the microphone when the atmosphere is too loud.”

Trying to create a better atmosphere for the students is difficult yet these subs stay with it. Though Mr.Voigt can’t speak for the other teachers he said, “I love coming to work every day because working with people is fun. I appreciate the energy, creativity, and passion high school students exhibit.”

The care and effort he puts into his job doesn’t stop there. Despite having the chance to say the negatives that come with his job he chose to speak of it in a positive light. 

When asked what he would change if given the choice, aside from going back to the old way of subbing, said, “it would be nice, if at all possible, to allocate an adult in the sub-center to supervise gym, art, computer, and outdoor classes in their own environment.”

He had every chance to say they needed more people, they needed more space, they needed more time to set up, but instead, he focused on the student’s needs.

We are those students and though we may not like it this program is most likely here to stay. The good news that comes with this is that our subs are willing to take time to help when needed, and wow, does it feel like we need it.

This system may feel draining and difficult especially to complete work that requires focus but together we can tackle this as students, teachers, faculty, and subs.