Kate Barton started her first year of substitute teaching at Stephenville ISD in August of last year and sat down with the E-T to discuss her experiences, challenges and what she enjoys about the job.

Barton went through the required application process along with a four-hour training program, but decided to apply since it’s related to her degree field and her two children are now in school full time at SISD.

“I thought it would be fun to be involved in their schools and really see what the Stephenville school district is like because I didn’t grow up here,” she said. “So you kind of have a perspective from the outside, you have your own expectations from what your education was like and I wanted to see what it’s like and it has certainly given me an opportunity to do that.”

Barton has primarily worked at Chamberlin and Hook Elementary, but has also subbed at Central Elementary. 

“I can work at any school, but it just so happens with the staggered start and stop times of school days, that it has worked out better for me to be at a school where my kids are,” Barton said. “I have one at Central and one at Chamberlin so it always just sort of made sense to be at one of those schools.”

When Barton first began her new position as a substitute, gaining the tools for the classroom was something she was worried about.

“Most of the grade levels I have subbed for have a day that is pretty structured and most of the teachers have that schedule posted in their room in several locations. So you basically just follow the schedule,” Barton said. “If a teacher knows in advance that they’re going to be gone then they’ll leave a detailed lesson plan and if they don’t then you kind of just figure it out and the other teachers are always very helpful. I’ve never had a day where I didn’t know what to do or how to fill the time; there’s a natural flow to it.”

Barton said she would sub about eight days a month; two or three days a week. Like with any job, substitute teaching can come with some challenges and Barton said there were two she experienced over the school year.

“When I went to school we had chalkboards, we didn’t have whiteboards or smart boards and so with some of the technology there’s a learning curve with understanding how to get everything up and on the smart board and effectively use that equipment,” she said. “They don’t train you how to do that and so early on if I had time I would play around and figure it out. Some teachers have their entire lesson plans on the computer, so you have to be able to find that stuff to get the work done.”

The second challenge for Barton was moving from Chamberlin to Hook where they have blocks and limited time for subjects.

“You have a very limited amount of time with some of those kids to get a lot of work done and you have to be on it,” she said. “The teachers expect that they have their lesson plan and that you get the work done in that amount of time and sometimes that’s a challenge especially if you have a group of kids at one level and a group of kids at another level. But I’ve found that kids are willing to help each other if you ask them and that’s helpful.”

Though there are challenges, Barton will continue to substitute teach at Stephenville ISD because she thoroughly enjoys it. 

“Just seeing the kids happy and learning has been a lot of fun and has been rewarding,” she said. “The ages I’ve subbed are still like little sponges, they soak everything in and they want to learn and they’re proud of what they know.”