With nearly every state struggling with teacher shortages, finding substitute teachers has become an increasingly important part of school administration. You must not only ensure classroom coverage, but also the preservation of meaningful instruction. Thankfully, the permanent substitute teacher is emerging as a viable solution to these day-to-day challenges. But what exactly is a permanent substitute teacher, and how can they improve your district?
What Is a Permanent Substitute Teacher?
Permanent substitutes are embedded within a single school community for the duration of a school year. They report to the same school each day, checking in with clerical and administrative staff to receive assignments. As an integral member of the team, permanent substitute teachers are flexible, filling both short-term and long-term assignments.
From covering for someone stuck in traffic to filling in for a teacher on a week-long medical leave, permanent substitutes are onsite and can be mobilized quickly. And on those rare days when none of the teaching staff is absent, the permanent substitute can support the administration by covering teachers as they attend IEP meetings or parent conferences, distributing supplies, or making up preparation periods.
The benefits of enlisting the help of a permanent substitute are clear. Student learning improves as a result of less disruption and fewer substitute teachers throughout the year. Teachers worry less about their students and their classrooms when a necessary absence keeps them home for a day. Administrators can breathe a sigh of relief as their permanent substitute arrives each morning ready to tackle the day’s challenges. And the substitute teachers themselves also benefit as they have the opportunity to be seen as a regular and valued member of a school community.
How Can They Improve Your District?
For districts plagued by shortages, permanent substitute teachers can increase stability during challenging times. They can increase the likelihood of meaningful instruction, thus promoting student growth and achievement.
Improved Relationships with School Staff
As a regular member of the team, these substitutes observe routines and build rapport with students, staff, administrators, and parents. Their daily interactions allow them to develop a collegial relationship with other teachers and support staff. Permanent substitutes become dependable team members as they report to their home base every day, absorbing its culture and climate.
Improved Knowledge of School Procedures
Knowledge of the school’s fire, lockdown, and tornado drill protocols improves safety and decreases liability. Familiarity with individual classroom routines, as well as policies and procedures, increases efficiency. For prearranged absences, teachers can brief permanent substitutes well in advance with any necessary information, while the substitute can provide valuable feedback in writing or in person at the conclusion of each assignment. This facilitates continuity of instruction and allows for follow-up on behavioral issues.
Improved Opportunities for Student Achievement
Perhaps most importantly, regular interaction with students helps permanent substitutes to understand students’ individual special needs and idiosyncrasies. They learn individual classroom routines and get to know students by name, which increases the opportunity for meaningful instruction. As a result, students become more comfortable as they come to know and respect their permanent substitutes. This familiarity leads to an increased accountability that promotes student achievement.
Creating a More Stable Learning Environment
Many schooldistricts have come to rely on permanent substitute teachers to more easily manage staff absences. All members of the school community benefit from the advantages these special substitute teachers provide. Teachers are reassured that their classrooms are in good hands, while students experience greater security and improved education when greeted by a familiar face. Increasing a substitute teacher’s efficacy while improving stability for staff and students is an ideal solution for all.
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.