How to Keep Your Substitute Teacher Coming Back During the Pandemic

The entire world has been turned upside down by this global pandemic started by COVID-19. A hot topic in our world right now is the question of what schools are going to do as the fall semester is looming ever closer. Many schools have already decided whether they will participate in distance learning or some version of in-school classes. For our purposes today, we will address schools that have decided to have in-person classes of some sort and how they will be able to keep substitutes coming back. 

Getting a substitute teacher to come to your classroom and keeping that person coming back has sometimes been a challenge. There are too few subs and no guarantee that you will get the same teacher who did so well with your class last time. Now, with the pandemic, even fewer subs will be available when you need to be gone from your classroom because of the heightened risk factors to contract COVID-19. Here are some tips for you and your classroom to make yourselves a desirable room for a substitute to come to and return to the next time you need to be gone. 

  1. Leave thorough sub plans: Substitute teachers go into a different classroom every day  so leave plans that the teacher can read quickly and easily, but cover the essentials of the functioning of your classroom. Subs need to know how to take care of the very start of the day routines, how to get your students’ attention, and basic instructions for each lesson. Please do not write, verbatim what you would say to your class. The substitute has their own way to teach and doesn’t have time to read a script. Leave your teacher’s manuals, any props that will be necessary, and trust that the sub will make it through the lesson while keeping you on track in your curriculum. 
  1. Ask a neighboring teacher to check up on the sub: It can make a world of difference as a substitute teacher in a new building having an ally from the first moment. Please ask a neighbor to make sure the substitute has what they need and to come to them with any questions they may have. The friendlier the staff, the more likely a substitute is to come back to your school!
  1. Train your students: Throughout the year, your students learn expectations about their behavior and academic performance. In order to maintain cohesion in the classroom, everyone must abide by the same rules to make your community held together. Expectations for behavior with a substitute must be explained and upheld, as well. Students need to understand that a substitute teacher is a guest in their classroom and they must be treated well. Teachers can help uphold this standard with rewards, missed privileges, or promises of extra lectures on less than ideal behavior. 
  1. Keep your classroom clean: Of course you are going to be following the rules on safe distancing, hand-washing, sanitizing, and keeping your classroom as clean as possible for the health and safety of yourself and your students. Make sure students are ready to help the substitute follow your classroom goals for cleanliness and to maintain those high standards throughout the day. If a substitute does not feel safe coming into your classroom, they may not be back. 

In the current state of our world in this global pandemic, getting a substitute teacher may be harder than ever. There are several things you can do to help maintain good substitute availability for your classroom. Make sure your sub plans are clear. Help your substitute to feel welcome in the building and supported by your teammates. Make sure your students know the expectations for their behavior with a substitute and that you are enforcing those expectations. Finally, maintain as clean a classroom environment as you can. With fewer substitutes available because of the pandemic, you really want to treat your substitutes well and keep them wanting to come back to your classroom. 

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