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Q&A with the 2023 SMS Keynote Speaker: Jay Midwood

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We’re just one week away from the 2023 Substitute Management Symposium! The inaugural event will feature a keynote presentation by Jay Midwood. Jay is the Chief of Human Capital for the Central Falls School District in Central Falls, RI. He also spent more than a decade working at the national level at the Center for Secondary School Redesign as VP of Operations.

You can learn more about Jay and his keynote presentation in this brief Q&A with him.

1. How has the traditional substitute teacher model changed for you?

Central Falls identified the need for a more personalized onramp for aspiring educators. The innovative program - Teaching Fellows - is what I call an innovative twist on the traditional role of a substitute teacher. How it has changed is that we have developed a personalized career plan for each sub that allows them to self-explore and use the subbing experience (PD, coaching, support, etc.) as their roadmap toward full certification. Instead of plug and play (traditional), we believe the model should be one that positions subs for long-term career success in our district.

2. How do you see K12 substitute management evolving over the next five years?

Over the next five years, we will continue to witness the ever-changing, complex dynamics of talent development (recruitment, retention, induction) for educators as a whole, specifically substitute teachers. Districts will have to drastically rethink the possibilities to meet the short-term need of filling positions with talented individuals but to address the long-term need of creating a personalized roadmap for success. What I mean by that is the field is highly competitive right now and will continue to be. Subs have the option to go where they want, and the traditional approach no longer meets their needs. They want to see themselves as a valued learning community member and know that the district will work with them to achieve their career goals.

3. What are the biggest opportunities you see for better substitute teaching?

Research tells us that roughly 29% of sub pool members are aspiring teachers. So, with so many educators leaving the field and a high level of competition between districts happening, the biggest opportunity is to develop a homegrown pipeline and experience for YOUR OWN subs. The talent is there; we have the rethink the structures and approaches that are in place to invest in this able and willing group of talent. What better way to grow your own than to invest in those who already know your kids, culture, community, and curriculum!

4. What one piece of advice would you have given yourself ten years ago?

Heart before head, touch before task, and relationships before rigor! Education is a go-go-go sector, but we must step back and focus on humanizing the role and building that personalized connection with individuals. Just as we personalize learning in our classrooms for students, we must do the same for our subs and teachers.

5. What can we look forward to in your keynote presentation?

The keynote will address all the above, but people can look forward to a real-life and relevant story that maps out how a small district with high needs identified an innovative way to turn substitute teaching upside down to meet the unique needs of its students and community. The audience can take ideas, concepts, and strategies back to their districts and be empowered to put their own twist on this very traditional role.

Visit the Substitute Management Symposium page to get more information and to register.

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