Coronavirus, Education, Uncategorized

Miller: Substitute teaching a way to help COVID-burdened schools

I am proud to have been a successful teacher in a great charter school.  It serves kids incredibly well.  But my peers in other public schools seem constantly to run into challenges because of archaic and entrenched practices.  While staffed by great people, our schools nonetheless lag other industries with regard to innovation and intentionality.  But one sticking point rears its head again and again: the struggle of supporting both educators and students with readily available, easily accessible and high-quality substitute teachers.

I now work with a fantastic team that came together purposefully with a vision to improve our schools and to impact our culture.  In each of our experiences in public education, we saw the way that poor substitute staffing systems, along with low expectations, resulted in overburdened teachers, unstaffed classrooms, and wasted school days for students.  We knew there had to be a better way and that is why we created TaggEducation.com.

Tagg Education envisions a future where teachers feel supported and where students always have a quality sub.  The answer lies in connecting engaged everyday people to the classrooms that need them.  And that future can be now.  Tagg operates like Uber or similar programs in order to connect high quality individuals with classrooms purposefully.  Individuals who work with Tagg Education are able to quickly onboard and engage with a growing number of schools to identify and fill substitute needs using convenient technology.  Payments are automated and day rates are consistently above $110 per day.  Best of all, it is a real way to give back to kids, to influence our future, and to help keep our schools operating in these weird times.

Covid issues and the resulting protocols have devastated our schools and created new challenges for our society.  With increasing frequency, we see news reports that show students are not designed to lead lives of isolation.  But the requirements established by state and local health entities mandate that teachers isolate or quarantine at a very high frequency. This takes teachers out of the classroom.  As a result, we have watched many schools have to move to remote learning due to a lack of staffing.  This doesn’t set students up for success.   Many kids are struggling, and parents are frustrated.

While we may feel inclined to shake our fist indignantly as we watch schools close, there is something we can do to help.

Organizations like Tagg Education, along with every school and district in Colorado would be well-served to add to their substitute pool.  Schools are looking to hire individuals as employees, while Tagg offers an option to participate as independent contractors in the gig economy.  Whichever option is more attractive, you quickly (a week to 10 days) could find yourself in a classroom challenging yourself and a group of students to learn and grow.  All it takes is a college degree and a successful background-check. With that comes an opportunity to share your skills, your insights, and your character. Training and support are available, and the opportunity to give back to your community has never been easier or more needed.

With Tagg, you can choose what schools, courses, and grade levels you prefer to try.  With local schools, you can be sure that you are reaching students in your own community. Either way, your commitment of just a few days a month can be a game-changer.  With just a handful of committed individuals in your area, the result could be the re-opening (or continued operation) of your school, leading to a complete brightening of hundreds of kids’ lives.

If you are reading this, you likely are a committed citizen.  You care about Colorado, its culture, and its kids.  Now is the time to put words and ideas into action.  Let’s all work together to get our schools open.  Be the hero that our kids deserve.

Trevor Miller was a substitute teacher, a 5th grade teacher at The Classical Academy, and now is Director of Operations for Tagg Education.

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