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Substitute Appreciation: 7 Ways to Celebrate Substitute Educators Day

November 17, 2021   •   Insights

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Substitute teachers play an essential role in K-12 education—they’re there to keep the learning going when educators are unable to be present in the classroom. With that said, substitute teachers don’t always get the recognition they truly deserve.

Now facing a substitute shortage in the wake of COVID-19, many school districts are on the hunt for ways to attract and retain modern subs and improve fill rates. That’s just one of many reasons we celebrate Substitute Educators Day—which is sometimes referred to as Substitute Appreciation Day or Substitute Teacher Appreciation Day—as part of the National Education Association’s American Education Week each year. 

Learn more about what Substitute Educators Day is, why it matters, and ideas for how your school district can celebrate to show your substitute appreciation:

Substitute Educators Day: What It Is & Why It Matters

This year’s Substitute Educators Day takes place on Nov. 19, 2021. Why celebrate substitutes? Substitute teachers are vital in K-12 education. They serve as educational bridges, bringing continuity and making it possible to continue educating in the temporary absence of regular classroom educators.

In fact, according to the Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State University, one full year of a student’s K-12 education is taught by substitute teachers. That’s significant! As part of American Education Week, Substitute Educators Day recognizes the tremendous (and often unrecognized) impact substitute teachers have on K-12 students, with the goal of: 

  • Encouraging increased respect for substitute teachers
  • Boosting morale among the substitute teacher community
  • Fostering a sense of loyalty to attract and retain substitutes
  • Motivating people to apply for substitute teaching positions
  • Advocating for substitutes to receive fair wages and benefits
  • Improving professional development for substitute teachers

7 Creative Ways to Show Your Substitute Appreciation

Wondering the best ways to acknowledge and celebrate Substitute Educators Day in your district? You can show your substitute teacher appreciation in several ways:

1. Send out emails or handwritten thank-you notes.

Personal messages go a long way when you’re looking to say thank you. Consider sending a personal email or handwritten thank-you note to the substitute teachers in your district to express your appreciation.

2. Post a sign in front of each school in your district.

Most schools have a changeable letter or digital marquee sign outside of the building to communicate important information with stakeholders. This is a great place to post a message celebrating Substitute Educators Day and/or thanking subs for all they do.

3. Provide resources designed for substitute teachers.

According to a recent Red Rover survey, substitutes prefer to have information up front before accepting an assignment. Sharing the resources that subs need in one central location will better equip them, so they feel more confident entering the classroom.

4. Promote on your social media channels and website.

Another great way to acknowledge subs on Substitute Educators Day—or just in general—is to post about it on school social media channels and websites. You can also include a nice message in an upcoming school newsletter—or all of the above!

5. Create shareable images and/or printable cards.

Consider creating shareable images and/or printable cards that kids can color and sign for school substitutes. Whether you hand them out personally or put them on display around each school, your subs will certainly feel special when they see the recognition.

6. Recognize substitutes at assemblies and events.

Assemblies, pep rallies, and other school events offer a chance to shout out school substitutes for their hard work, loyalty, and dedication. Just make sure they’re present to see it, either virtually or in real time!

7. Offer free incentives and rewards for substitutes.

Free incentives and rewards are an excellent way to recognize substitute teachers in your school district. A little reward goes a long way, whether it’s a free lunch, school swag, new opportunities for learning and development, or something else entirely.

And the ideas don’t end there—there are countless ways you can take action to show your substitute teachers how much you appreciate their efforts!

Stay Informed About Substitute Management (and More)

This year and always, Substitute Educators Day is an important opportunity for districts to acknowledge the importance of school substitutes and show appreciation for all they do in our communities. Looking for more insights on substitute management? Subscribe to our blog to get the latest tips for K-12 absence and substitute management.

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