Expectations and Experiences of Substitute Teachers in Elementary Schools in Taiwan

Year: 2018

Author: Wang, Tsai-Wei, Chang, Te-Sheng

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

To understand more fully the contributions that substitute teachers make to the education system in Taiwan, knowledge of the expectations and the role of substitute teachers as well as teacher work experiences is required. The primary goal of current study is to listen to the voices of substitute teachers in eastern Taiwan who care deeply about teaching in order to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between the expectations of substitute teachers entering elementary schools and the experiences of being substitute teachers.
Research questions include, but are not limited to, the following: What does a typical day look like for a substitute teacher? What does substitute teaching mean to substitute teachers? What expectations are held by substitute teachers about their position in the teaching profession, their role definitions, and role fulfillment? How do substitute teachers make a good connection with students and colleagues? What do they like/dislike about substitute teaching?
Three male substitute teachers who were actively choosing to teach were interviewed. Their narratives revealed that: First, a substitute teacher’s work on a weekday was the same as that of a formal teacher, carrying out lesson plans, managing the classroom, dealing with difficult children and participating in school activities as well. However, the weekly teaching load might be heavy since a substitute teacher taught a wide range of grade levels and subject classes. Secondly, substitute teachers took their job seriously and worked to help students learn. They well prepared materials needed for daily lesson. They showed respect to all students. Thirdly, substitute teachers actively interacted and built positive relationships with other teachers, staffs and school administrators. Fourthly, substitute teachers loved being a teacher. Teaching was a satisfying journey filled with joy. Students’ feedbacks were the vital sources of the supports for substitute teachers. Fifthly, these male substitute teachers wanted to become a formal teacher and viewed a teaching career as a long-term vocation. Finally, being a male substitute teacher was a gender issue. For example, male substitute teachers were most welcomed for taking physical activity and physical education to schools. Meanwhile, being substitutes, the salary was not stable and low, male substitute teachers wanted and were expected to become a formal teacher soon. Full salary for formal teachers helped them to be the family primary breadwinners.
The study gave a deeper understanding about males substitute teachers. Findings would contribute to the range and depth of substitute teaching literature.