Typically, union regulations prevent a teacher from being forced to teach all six periods, resulting in a prep period free of classes. However, at the beginning of the spring semester, all the Spanish teachers met as a unit and decided to come together to take on a sixth class and forego their prep. Bear Creek lost a Spanish 1 teacher over break and was unable to find a suitable replacement in time.
Rather than allow the classes to be taught by interim substitute teachers, the department decided to take on the classes themselves.
Their decision derives from concerns over the quality of a class taught primarily by long-term substitute teachers, as has happened with vacancies in the past. A class which does not have a permanent teacher can suffer from inconsistencies. Often, a different substitute will teach the class every quarter, leading to differences in the material.
“[When I was] in seventh grade, the teacher was fired so we had a bunch of long-term subs,” sophomore Ashley Roche said. “Every quarter it was taught differently and every quarter we had different rules.”
Inconsistency can interfere with any class, but Spanish 1 teaches enough fundamentals that it can seriously impact a student’s performance in more advanced Spanish classes. Understanding complex verb tenses in Spanish 2 is much more difficult if the student was never properly taught conjugation in Spanish 1.
Additionally, substitute teachers may have difficulty gaining respect from students who know they are not long-term.
“The thing with subs is that they can stay only a month and the whole rotation of subs just doesn’t work,” Spanish teacher Andres Gil said. “The kids usually don’t respect the sub once they know it’s a sub.”
Some of the teachers were already teaching a section of Spanish 1, so the added section did not significantly affect add to their prep time. For other teachers, the added workload was greater because they had not been teaching Spanish 1 previously. Additionally, losing a prep period can result in much more prep time shifted to at-home or after school work.
“It’s kind of like the perfect storm because now I am teaching Spanish 1, Spanish 2, Spanish 3, and AP Spanish,” Gil said. “My daily life has become kind of chaotic. I have so many things going on at once and I have to be super organized.”
However, the Spanish department collaborates to reduce the workload. Worksheets and warm-ups are shared to prevent any of the teachers from getting behind schedule.
Additionally, the students have been accommodating. Overall, the teachers have not had any significant disciplinary problems.
“I’ve noticed in the last couple weeks, they got used to this routine,” Spanish teacher Stephanie Calixto said. “It’s very difficult to get someone used to a new routine, especially coming from a new teacher. So I feel like they’ve adapted well in that case.
The situation may be unusual, but, according to the teachers, the sacrifices have been worth it.
“It’s difficult but at the end of the day, the kids are hopefully getting the best,” Calixto said. “We want them to succeed.”