GARRETT, Ind. (WFFT) — From one classroom to another, Purdue University Fort Wayne is now allowing student teachers to take on paying substitute roles with the goal of providing relief for understaffed schools and underpaid students.
Isabel Nuñez tells her education students to be prepared for the financial strain of student teaching.
"They’re basically working full time, and not only are they not getting paid, they’re paying tuition for that privilege," Nuñez said.
So she was thrilled when Purdue Fort Wayne decided to allow students to register as substitute teachers.
Mackenzie Snider has been able to substitute in local elementary schools for about a month now, which she says eases a bit of the student teaching burden.
"Being able to sub and then get that money from subbing is just a relief in itself," Snider said.
Once Purdue University in West Lafayette started allowing student teachers to substitute, PFW followed suit in hopes of providing relief to understaffed schools in need of more subs.
"School districts are having a very difficult time finding the sheer number of substitute teachers that are needed when regular classroom teachers are quarantining after exposure to COVID," Nuñez said. "It just intensifies an already present need."
The university originally feared student teachers would lose time with their mentors if either was pulled away to sub, but Snider says working as a substitute has already been valuable.
"With substitute teaching, obviously you go into classrooms that have very different teaching styles," Snider said. "And so from that, I’ve been able to gain experience with classroom management and being able to take the class and find ways to get them to respect me as a substitute which is sometimes hard."
Snider plans to continue both her student and substitute teaching through May, before using what she’s learned to get hired for her own classroom.
Only four PFW students are eligible to substitute so far, but the university hopes for more in the future.