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Finding and Creating Solutions to the Substitute Teacher Shortage

Dani Corbett
Ready2Teach Article Writer
January 26, 2021

Solutions to the Substitute Teacher Shortage

We've discussed how difficult it's becoming to find qualified substitute teachers, and we've examined how the actual job of substitute teaching is connected to the substitute teacher shortage. Now that we understand where many of the shortfalls are, we can start to find and create solutions to help alleviate the substitute teacher shortage in our country. Providing outstanding service and training for our subs, recruiting the right people for the job, having consistent policies and procedures, being competitive in pay, and offering incentives and recognition for jobs well done are all ways we can improve our substitute teacher shortage situation and get teachers in the classrooms! 

Provide Outstanding Training

Providing outstanding training to our substitutes has endless benefits. Studies have shown that having a consistent training program in place helps in two specific ways. First, it increases the number of applicants for substitute teaching. Second, it increases the number of employees who stay with our schools long-term. Offering consistent training also encourages long term application of the trainings in the classroom. When substitute teachers are consistently being trained on how to do their job well, the effects show in the classroom with the kids.

Here's a list from the American Association of School Administrators on what substitute teachers need the most training for.

  1. Address how to be professional and prepared
  2. Safety, legal and emergency procedures
  3. Classroom management
  4. Teaching strategies
  5. Creating your "bag of tricks" or "super sub pack"

We can see just from this list how much more prepared and ready substitute teachers would feel walking into the classroom if they had consistent training under their belts. Instead of overwhelm and nervousness, our teachers will walk in with confidence and preparation.

Recruiting the Right Substitute Teachers

Recruiting the right substitute teachers is a key solution to solving the substitute teacher problem. Recruiting teachers who will help increase the average number of days each substitute works per month is the goal. Recruiting can be with more than just posting positions on job boards. Use targeted advertising, set up booths at university job fairs, use your parent association to reach out to the community or personally call individuals who would make excellent substitutes like retired teachers or student teachers.

Outsourcing Your Substitute Teacher Needs

Outsourcing your substitute teacher needs to our company, Ready2Teach, is also a great solution that saves you time and ensures your needs are being fulfilled with qualified substitutes. Utilizing our software and our substitute teacher pool assists your school in reducing the gap between your substitute teaching needs and jobs going unfilled. When you invest in outsourcing a company, you're giving back time to your administrators and teachers to perform their jobs without the struggle and stress that comes with not having a substitute in the classroom when needed.

Create and Enforce Consistent Workforce Policies and Procedures

Creating and remaining consistent to policies and procedures for our substitute teachers will help enforce expectations for both the substitute teacher and the school. One policy to consider is setting a minimum number of days a substitute is expected to work to remain in the substitute pool. Schools and employers should have a clear protocol for what happens when substitute teachers cancel last minute or just do not show up for their assignment. One way district administrators can help prevent low substitute teacher fill rates is by scheduling all professional development or teacher training days on Monday through Thursdays. Because Fridays are the most difficult day to fill substitutes, controlling that need as much as possible will decrease the rates of jobs going unfilled.

Deliver Outstanding Customer Service

The process and journey of becoming and being a substitute teacher should be enjoyable and exciting. There are many ways to provide excellent customer service to our substitute teachers.

Ways To Delight Our Substitute Teachers

  1. Continually update onboarding processes
  2. Deliver well thought out orientations, welcome events and school tours
  3. Provide consistent training and workshops
  4. Utilize technology to create a clear and easy to use process for finding and accepting jobs
  5. Use social media to engage substitutes, offer small giveaways, provide small bits of information and encouragement and more
  6. Provide training to teachers and school administrators to ensure school professionals are welcoming, helpful and encouraging towards substitute teachers
  7. Strive to be the school district that is known for going above and beyond to value substitute teachers
  8. Create recognition programs such as naming a "Substitute of the Year"
  9. Increase pay to be competitive with local opportunities in the workforce

Creating a substitute teacher program that offers a feeling of community and growth will help attract, engage and delight the right people for the job. Devleoping an incentive program can assist in keeping substitutes committed to their job. Offer financial incentives to teachers who teach a certain percentage or higher during the school year. Some schools offer their consistent substitutes incentives of $5 to $15 more a day. Another part of the program can be connecting substitute teachers with community resources for benefits. Be engaged in the process of securing benefits with them. Research and direct your substitutes towards programs they may qualify for to assist with benefits. Consider offering paid time off to substitutes who work a required amount of days during the school year. Even though substitute teachers are not full time employees, being treated as such will go a long way.

Be Conscious of Limiting Substitute Teacher Hours

We all know there are workforce procedures and laws we need to be aware of; however, we can make sure we're not needlessly limiting the number of hours a substitute teacher can work during the week. The Affordable Care Act absolutely has an impact on substitute teachers and schools, but it's often difficult to understand that impact and ensure we're staying compliant. Checking with a local consultant or a human resource company who specializes in education may offer new approaches to stay compliant with the ACA. This may result in allowing substitute teachers more hours. When in doubt, check with a specialist!

Be The Solution to the Substitute Teacher Shortage

As we can conclude, there are many solutions that can be implemented to help improve the substitute teacher shortage across the United States. Train our substitutes. Recruit the right people. Utilize technology and social media to our benefit. Outsource our needs when necessary. Create consistent policies and procedures. And most important of all, be an excellent school to work for by delivering outstanding service to our substitute teachers. Our kids need substitute teachers in their classrooms. We can be a part of the solution by putting in our best efforts in implementing these solutions in our districts, schools and classrooms.

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