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Edtech Company Encourages Its Employees to Volunteer as Substitute Teachers

Edtech Company Encourages Its Employees to Volunteer as Substitute Teachers


Daniel Mollenkamp
Sep 13, 2022
Schools across the country are dealing with a severe teacher shortage.
That shortage has become so desperate at times that state governments have even started letting their employees take paid time off to plug in the holes in missing staff, in an effort to keep schools from shuttering in-person learning.
For example: In late January, Utah Governor Spencer Cox issued an executive order giving state employees up to 30 hours of paid time off to sit in for missing staff at public and private schools.
And at least one edtech company is making a similar offer: Instructure, the learning management system provider that runs Canvas, is encouraging its employees to volunteer as substitute teachers for districts.
The staffing shortages “got really acute” at the end of last year, says Steve Daly, who’s been CEO of Instructure since 2020.
Company officials say it became apparent during the pandemic that school administrators couldn’t get substitutes fast enough.
“It’s not only affecting our teachers and our admin, it’s also affecting us,” says Shelly Ruff, a K-12 client success manager at Instructure.
School administrators kept being pulled from their regular meetings with Instructure representatives or canceling at the last minute so they could cover for missing teachers, for instance.
So Instructure began asking employees to volunteer in schools in Utah, where the company is headquartered—using a preexisting program that gives all employees two volunteer days to use at their own discretion.
And it created a program to train administrators and non-permanent teachers to use the company’s platform when the teacher is out. That program also allows teachers and administrators to give substitutes access to lesson plans and homework, making them more than a babysitter, Daly indicated.
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