We've all heard that Christina Aguilera song "What A Girl Wants", right? Now I've got it stuck in your head for the rest of the day...
However effective, my goal here is not to take you back to the early 2000 pop charts. Instead, it's to take a look at what substitutes in your classrooms need to feel prepared, successful, and ready to return to your classrooms again and again.
As you know, SubWorksPro focuses on three tried-and-true steps to create a self-sustaining pool of qualified and reliable guest teachers. Substitutes have different wants and needs at each stage of their employment within your district.
At first, they need to know what you can offer that will make this endeavor worth their while.
They need to know they can do the job and you will be there to support them. They need to know:
Your district boasts kind, attentive, and helpful front office staff
Respectful students who know the importance of a guest teacher's role
Since the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. Presidency, there has been a sharp rise in harassment and even violence against school students, staff, and teachers of color. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy organization, after the election, K-12 teachers across the countryreported an upswing in verbal harassment, the use of slurs and derogatory language, challenges to students’ perceived legal status, threats of deportation, and disturbing incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes, hanging roped nooses, and Confederate flags.
Districts are forced to send out e-mails to parents, warning them about this disturbing trend, and asking parents to have important discussions with their children, in order to put a stop to these incidents. District staff are undergoing team meetings, or professional development, on how to address the increased racist, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic rhetoric and harassment in the classroom.
“We had to cancel professional development for the 2nd Grade Team. Again.”
“I can’t keep waking up at 5:00 a.m., scrambling for coverage.”
"The Principal had to sub in my class today."
“Every year, this gets worse.”
We hear this story over and over, at every school site, in every district, regardless of socio-economic demographics. School administrators and staff are sick and tired of having to deal with the lack of adequate and qualified substitute teacher coverage for their certificated and classified staff, year after year after year. And the sub shortage is only getting worse.
Administrators don’t know what to do, how to fix it, or even where to start. They don’t have the time to dedicate towards fixing their substitute shortage. The worst part---this is a fixable situation. Their sub problem has a solution.
That’s where SubWorksPro comes in. Our team has extensive experience working in school districts...
From kindergarten to twelfth grade, over a year of a child’s education is spent with a substitute teacher. Yet teachers, aides, students, and staff often view substitutes as a glorified babysitter with no credentials and no teaching experience.
Your guest teacher may be a college graduate with a degree in economics substitute teaching a class for the day. Or a retiree who used to be the CEO of a bio-engineering firm. Or even a teaching candidate in the middle of their credentialing program who is trying to gain experience before they graduate.
Administrators and Principals Subs are generally overlooked and ignored by front office staff and principals. They arrive at a new school with no sense of knowledge of the school setting, no comfort or feelings of acceptance from the other staff members as part of the school team, and for most of the day, their efforts to meet and exceed the school’s expectations go unnoticed.
Teachers No matter how much knowledge and quality these guest teachers...
We geek out about substitute teaching. Seriously. We can talk to anyone about it for hours. We guarantee that you will never meet two people more enthusiastic about any topic that relates to substitute teaching. So how did we get here? How in the world did two women, a former San Francisco prosecutor, and a former talent recruiter for Sea World, form an educational nonprofit that recruits and trains substitute teachers for school districts?
I took a hiatus from a grueling trial schedule to become a stay-at-home mom. Going from two incomes to one--I really needed some supplemental income, but couldn’t think of any side-gig that would allow me the flexibility I needed with young children. Despite being on the PTA/Foundation, “Room Parent”, and directing lessons in Arts Attack, no one told me about substitute teaching. They assumed based on my professional background that I wouldn’t be interested! And I saw a LOT of subs in the classroom when I v...
BIG CORPORATION APPROACHES TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS DON'T WORK
Substitute teacher staffing agencies started popping up in the northeast nearly 20 years ago. They were supposed to be the answer, to what was the beginning of the substitute teacher shortage. These for-profit corporations utilized a one-size-fits-all approach in recruiting new substitutes, without regard for demographics, school district and site-level teaching philosophy/culture, effective outreach, proper training, nor support for district staff and substitutes.
On paper, this initially seemed like a good solution to the sub shortage, and these big corporations secured multi-million dollar contracts with school districts. However, school districts and Superintendents who employed a staffing agency, quickly came under fire with teachers, administrative staff, and parents. The theme was consistent: the fill rates were the same or worse than before, the quality of subs was awful, and the double-digit million dollar contracts fo...
The fate of education and the teaching shortage is directly tied to the substitute shortage experienced by school districts both locally and nationwide. According to the Learning Policy Institute, enrollment in teacher certification programs has dropped 75% in the last decade, and those numbers continue to plummet. Additionally approximately 40 % of California teachers are eligible for or moving toward retirement. There are the multiple well-known hurdles that make teaching less attractive as a profession: low pay, large classroom sizes, public/political scapegoating of teachers, student loan debt, lack of affordable housing/transportation, and the list goes on. Less and less people are attracted to teaching as a profession, which corresponds to less people attracted by the opportunity to serve as a substitute.
The Good Old Days
Before these numbers began to plunge, school districts had more than enough substitutes. They were easy to come by, as it was a popular means by...
A school district “fill rate” means the percentage of covered versus uncovered teacher absences, by day, week, month, and year. High fill rates can only be achieved by having a robust substitute pool sufficient to cover not only absences due to illness, but professional development days as well. Fill rates vary from state-to-state, and even site-by-site within a single school district.
Fill rates, even site-by site, are often influenced by not only the size of the active substitute pool, but by the way substitutes are trained and how they are treated by students, teachers, and administrative staff.
The Impact Of Low Fill Rates
School districts with the highest state assessment and nationwide standardized testing scores, experience the highest percentage fill rates in the mid-to-high 90s. Conversely, school districts that underperform tend to have fill rates in the 60s to mid-80s.