Fostering Collaboration Between K-12 Schools and Substitute Teachers

23, May 2024 10:39 AM

If only the school plan always went off without a hitch, right? But when classroom teachers call in sick or are otherwise unavailable, substitute teachers play a pivotal role in maintaining continuity. Fostering collaboration between K-12 schools and substitute teachers, however, can pose a challenge. 

Full-service education staffing firms like Teachers On Demand INC offer a range of services that help build partnership and communication between schools and substitute teachers. With the following practical strategies, you’ll find new confidence to make each school day a success, even in the face of unexpected changes.

Starting at square one

When it comes to finding substitute teachers, K-12 schools face several challenges. The first is availability: Finding qualified substitutes at short notice can be a daunting task, especially in times of high demand like flu season or when regular staff members take extended leave. Second, ensuring substitutes arrive on time and are prepared to manage the classroom can lead to uncertainty. Finally, there's the question of quality. While many substitutes are highly skilled professionals, some may lack the experience to effectively engage students.

On the flip side, substitute teachers face their own set of challenges in the school environment. They may struggle to establish rapport with students who are used to their regular teacher’s style and methods. Moreover, the need to navigate unfamiliar school policies, procedures, and classroom dynamics can be disorienting, especially with the lack of continuity inherent in many substitute positions. 

Without proper communication and support from the school administration, it may be difficult for substitutes to fulfill their role effectively. In fact, many substitutes report feeling treated like babysitters rather than educators.

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The importance of partnership

Now that we’ve acknowledged the challenges, we can work on improving collaboration. It's essential for both schools and substitute teachers to recognize each other as partners in the pursuit of giving K-12 students a high-quality education. While substitute teachers may not be permanent fixtures in the school community, their impact on student learning and well-being is significant. By viewing substitutes as valuable contributors rather than temporary placeholders, schools can foster a culture of inclusion and support.

Similarly, substitute teachers must understand the unique needs and expectations of each school they work in. When substitutes have the resources to align their teaching approach with the school’s ethos, they can better support students to achieve academic goals.

Finding effective solutions

On the one hand, many K-12 schools grapple with the availability, timeliness, and quality of substitute educators. On the other, substitutes often struggle with a lack of communication, support, and continuity in school environments. Teachers On Demand INC is set up with solutions for all of these.

Work only with “RARE” educators

Finding substitute teachers is hard. Teachers On Demand INC has built an extensive network of qualified and motivated educators that we call a RARE educator — those who embody the qualities of responsibility, accountability, reliability, and exceptionalism, naturally.

Partnering with us reduces the burden and costs of recruitment for your team. We work with you personally to get to know the unique culture of your school so that we can quickly match qualified and reliable substitutes from our network to your needs.

Reduce pressure on the substitute relationship

Unlike in traditional recruitment, Teachers On Demand INC owns the relationship with the subs we assign to your school. This means that not only do we vet substitutes to ensure they share your school’s values, we also act as the go-between, ensuring that both schools and subs are benefiting from the arrangement.

Part of this is helping substitutes to do their jobs more effectively by supporting their mental health needs. We’ve found that investing in our substitutes long-term can promote job satisfaction, performance, and retention.

Streamline substitute scheduling with our digital platform

Sometimes, finding a last-minute sub can be a real scramble. Teachers On Demand INC’s Substitute Scheduling Platform allows you to save time and solve teacher absences faster. Through the platform, schools can send out real-time alerts to request substitutes, record absences, and take control of scheduling just with the push of a few buttons.  

K-12 schools of all sizes love how the platform removes obstacles and provides much-needed clarity while keeping everyone informed!

Create long-term stability

The same way schools hope for reliable and timely substitutes, your subs crave a sense of stability. The Substitute Scheduling Platform is a good way for both parties to get what they need; for schools, a solution for absences, and for subs, reliable work. In some cases, teacher absences require a longer-term solution. Teachers On Demand INC also places long-term substitutes, like in the case of Ayanna Freelon. Read about Ayanna’s positive experience as a long-term substitute music teacher at a school that adored her.

Laying the groundwork for effective communication

We believe effective communication is the cornerstone of successful collaboration between schools and substitute teachers. While Teachers On Demand INC manages the relationship between our substitutes and your school at a high level, there are many ways you can create a welcoming environment for recurring subs at school. Try these strategies:

Set clear expectations. Schools should provide substitutes with clear guidelines on classroom routines, lesson plans, and other expectations. Likewise, substitutes should promptly communicate any questions or concerns to the school administration. Teachers On Demand INC facilitates two-way communication in this area.

Stay open to feedback. Feedback mechanisms enable you to get input from substitutes about their experiences in the classroom and identify areas for improvement. When Teachers On Demand INC assigns substitutes to your school, we can help relay feedback between schools and subs.

Recognize contributions. Do your kids love their sub? Let them know! Acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of substitute teachers can boost morale and reinforce their sense of belonging.

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Schedule substitute teachers you can rely on

Teachers On Demand INC helps over 200 school partners build a stronger sense of community and shared educational goals with substitute educators. 

Looking for reliable subs to step in at a moment’s notice? Learn more about our substitute staffing services and substitute scheduling platform