Tips for recruiting and retaining substitutes
Several districts have found new ways to connect with and retain quality substitutes.
Use social media. Tacoma Public Schools finds emergency substitutes via Facebook or Instagram who agree to be available when teachers call in sick.
Allow subs to take bathroom and lunch breaks so they’re not working the entire day, says Andrea Giunta, senior policy analyst for the National Education Association. “We find that school districts that have particular working conditions, even if the pay is lower, keep people coming back,” she says. “You must consider the quality of life for your substitute teachers.”
Ask subs to commit to working a few days every month so they stay involved. Denver Public Schools began asking substitutes to commit to working five days per month. Human resources staff email and call them to find ways to meet that commitment, such as pairing them with their first teaching assignment during the orientation session with the district, says Robyn Fergus, human resources director at Denver Public Schools.
Respect your substitutes and connect with them personally. Denver Public Schools decided five years ago to rename the role as “guest teacher” to remove negative stigmas associated with “substitute” and to elevate the professionalism of the position.
Ask for feedback. Tacoma Public Schools gives feedback forms to substitute teachers after they fill in at schools. If the district receives poor feedback, the director of recruitment and development follows up with the sub to ask about the day and to address any concerns.