Having a pool of available, effective substitute teachers is essential for the efficient operation of any school district. Teachers depend on enthusiastic and caring replacements, while administrators expect qualified classroom managers to maintain order during teacher absences. But knowing where to look and how to hire good substitutes can mean the difference between access to dependable, proactive educators and ongoing administrative frustration.
Who Makes a Good Substitute Teacher
When considering the options, it is necessary to think about who makes a good substitute teacher. Depending on the requirements in your district, some options for candidates can even be found in your school community.
- Certified teachers who are not currently employed in full-time classroom positions make great substitute teachers. This includes retirees who have years of classroom experience and others who are not currently committed to full-time employment. The skills they have honed by leading classrooms in the past can be applied to efficiently take charge in daily, or even long-term, substitute placements.
- College students majoring in education can contribute as substitute teachers. Their exposure to cutting edge topics and timely research in education make them excellent candidates.
- Parents of district students are another group that may yield good substitute teachers. They have the advantage of geographical proximity, and the hours of employment match the hours when their children are in school. Parents will have some experience dealing with school-aged children, which is also a plus.
Having Knowledge and Life Skills to Share
Though substitute teacher candidates come to the profession with a variety of life experiences and skills, we should not underestimate their potential benefits in the classroom. Some skills can augment the effectiveness of substitute lesson plans. These include fluency in a world language, knowledge of art, or the ability to play a musical instrument.
Meanwhile, interest or experience with plants, animals, astronomy, geology, etc. can easily translate into a demonstration lesson or a classroom activity. The ability to organize or manage can be applied to proactive classroom management, laying things out and making expectations clear from the beginning. Recognizing that the diverse interests and talents of substitute teacher candidates can help to break the ice and enhance classroom job placements is a factor that should not be overlooked.
Finally, the ability to relate to others is perhaps one of the most general, and yet strongest, attributes a substitute teacher candidate may possess. Since substitutes have a much shorter time than regular teachers to establish a positive classroom culture, a smile and an empathetic demeanor can go a long way toward putting students at ease amid the uncertainty of a teacher’s absence.
Communicating well through verbal and non-verbal cues is an effective skill, as is a positive outlook. For example, giving a shout out to students who are following directions is frequently more effective than attempting to correct negative behavior.
How To Hire Good Substitute Teachers in a Time Crunch
With the variety of life experiences and skills that are useful for substitute teachers, it is clear that there are potential candidates in the school community. With comprehensive orientation training to share district policies and procedures, as well as solid instruction in classroom management procedures and developmentally-appropriate instructional techniques, they can be effective educators.
However, not all districts have the time or resources to manage the recruitment, screening, hiring, and management of new substitute teachers, especially when vacancies need to be filled quickly. The most efficient way to gain access to good substitute teachers is with the help of an education staffing agency.
As specialists in the K-12 staffing space, an education-exclusive management company will expedite the recruitment, interviewing, credentialing, and processing of these key professionals. But it is in their training and ongoing management of your substitute teachers where you will notice the biggest difference. Gaining access to a reliable and talented pool of good substitute educators without the administrative burden of managing them will be a welcome relief.
If you need help figuring out where to find quality substitute teachers, contact ESS. With decades of experience and a multi-tiered support structure, we have the resources to recruit, hire, and train exceptional substitute teachers for your district.
Phil has been supporting school districts across the country for more than 12 years. He works hands-on with districts implementing customized solutions to improve their substitute teacher and support staff programs. When he’s not increasing districts’ fill rates, Phil can be found swinging his clubs on a golf course.