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3 Steps to Avoid Substitute Teacher Shortage Over the Summer + Email Template for Recruitment

Red Rover

Insights | May 25, 2021

School districts across the U.S. are facing substitute teacher shortages, which have worsened following the start of last year’s COVID-19 pandemic and an ever-growing gig economy mindset. To fill this increasing need, many subs are being placed in full-time positions, further shrinking the sparse pool of available substitute teachers. 

How can school administrators attract and retain subs over the summer months and avoid substitute teacher shortages when students return in the fall?

1. Plan ahead to avoid a substitute teacher shortage.

The lack of substitute teachers is a complex problem that requires both preventative measures and innovative solutions. Each school district has individual needs and faces unique challenges. While there’s no simple, one-size-fits-all solution, administrators who proactively tackle the sub shortage issue during the summer months will mitigate staffing shortages when the semester begins. 

Here are some ways to identify qualified substitute teaching candidates for the classroom: 

  • Create a list of preferred substitute teachers and candidates, and encourage collaboration by asking faculty members to make suggestions.
  • Create an emergency plan for substitute teacher shortages using nonclassroom staff members, such as administrators, coaches, and so on. 
  • Hire permanent subs for each school (i.e. elementary, middle, and high schools), which places an available sub in each location to cover any unexpected absences. 
  • Encourage retired teachers to return to the classroom by changing qualification standards and allowing them to continue collecting pensions.
  • Use state-of-the-art sub placement software such as Red Rover to communicate with subs in real time during the summer months; remind them of upcoming staffing opportunities. 

Address and counsel permanent educators with chronic absentee issues by asking how they can be supported. What do they need to perform their jobs? How can you help them? Is more training required? Red Rover’s partnership with the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) helps keep subs motivated and engaged with continued learning.

2. Provide support for substitute teachers.

To avoid an unexpected substitute teacher shortage, ask your pool of available subs what support they need before returning to the classroom in the fall. Convenience must also be prioritized. Subs should have an easy way to communicate with administrators, manage their schedule online, and make schedule requests using an easy-to-learn interface such as Red Rover. 

Providing incentives and perks may also convince subs to stick with your school district. There are many ways administrators can do this.

  • Show frequent and sincere appreciation for your subs’ hard work. Even a short personalized note from the principal can go a long way in making a substitute feel acknowledged for their efforts.
  • Create an incentive program for subs that offers monetary rewards such as free lunches or stipends.
  • Hold professional development training courses during the summer months to help teachers prepare for classroom issues.
  • Collaborate with local restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores to offer exclusive discounts and events such as “Teacher Appreciation Night.”
  • Recognize substitute teachers with awards, such as “Most Creative Curriculum” or “Most School Spirit.”

3. Think outside the box to find the right candidates.

Holding recruitment campaigns in the summer can help prevent substitute teacher shortages in the fall. 

  • Use social media to bring in more candidates by highlighting the perks of working in your district using photos, videos, and stories on social media platforms.
  • Identifying potential substitute teachers from the local community, such as parents of students or friends and relatives of current staff.
  • Offer referral bonuses to administrative members for bringing in qualified candidates. 
  • Recruit local college students involved in teaching majors or preparatory programs by offering college credits, partial tuition reimbursement, or health insurance.
  • Hold regular hiring open houses during the summer to allow candidates to become familiar with your district, teaching staff, and school administrators. 
  • Stay in touch with potential candidates throughout the summer months to remind them that you’re looking for qualified subs. Here's an example:

Hi [First Name],

We hope you’re having a great summer! 

I’m [Your Name] from [School Name]. We’re reaching out to let you know how much we appreciate all the hard work and effort you’ve contributed to [School Name] as a substitute teacher. Subs have a huge impact on dynamic student learning, and we’re grateful for your many contributions and the positive impact you’ve had in our district. 

As the fall semester nears, we hope you’ll come back to work with us! We enjoy collaborating with you as you encourage, educate and nurture our student body. Please feel free to reach out to us as the school year approaches, we’re happy to alert you of any short-term teaching opportunities and long-term vacancies. 

(Red Rover Clients) We’re also excited to share that we’re now using Red Rover to oversee absence management. We encourage you to download the app and explore its many features - we promise it will make your life as a substitute teacher much easier!

Thank you for being a passionate educator at [Name] School District! We truly appreciate you and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the upcoming school year!

Sincerely,

[Your Name, Your Title]

[Your School Name]

[Your Contact Information]

While there may be no quick fix to your district’s substitute teacher shortage, proactively planning ahead can help you avoid stressful staffing deficits in the fall. Need help finding and retaining qualified substitute teachers? Red Rover can help. Contact us today for a free demo.

 

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