How Edtech Can Help Recruit and Retain Substitutes How Edtech Can Help Recruit and Retain Substitutes

How Edtech Can Help Recruit and Retain Substitutes

Erin Werra Erin Werra Edtech Thought Leader
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While the community may be buzzing about the upheaval in job markets, it’s not news to those trying to hire substitute teachers. Currently surveys show 1 in 4 workers is looking for a new job. Of those who have decided to leave, more than a third leave due to their workplace’s culture.

Technology can feel magical, but it is never the only answer to hiring challenges. Still, if you’re looking to differentiate yourself from other competing districts, have you considered sharing your top-notch edtech support for substitutes? Here are three ways to do it.


1. Share what sets you apart

Number one is culture, which is built by people and not machines. However, you can use tech to get the word out that your culture is healthy, happy, and built by your team working in sync. Take a look at your school website—most likely the first place candidates will look—and social media accounts to ensure your branding is up to date.

Learn more about creating a strong digital presence on the web and on social.

Next, don’t sleep on your student information system! Your administrative software can ease the burden of substitutes in a few ways. First, positive attendance systems eliminate awkward roll call that eats up precious instructional time. But if positive attendance isn’t yet part of your admin process, simply being able to access a visual seating chart can ease a lot of substitutes’ worries. Finally, the more intuitive and easier to access the software is (think cloud-based systems accessible through any browser, secured with the substitute’s own unique credentials) the more time substitutes have to spend with students.


2. Don’t forget staff substitutes

Bus drivers, lunch staff, and other roles outside of teaching will need time off too. When choosing edtech designed to provide these resources, consider the training and learning curve of each. Is it easy to learn, or will lunch lines wrap around the building if the main kitchen staff dare to take a day off?

When families can manage lunch balances online, students don’t have to worry about making cash transactions. Barcode readers make purchasing lunch simple. And custom point-of-sale screens using touchscreen monitors make learning the system on the fly a little easier. 


3. Support substitutes so they stay

Once a substitute has signed on, how can your district ensure the reasons to stay outweigh the temptation to go? Set up a solid foundation by helping all substitutes feel they belong and aren’t simply a faceless visitor to the classroom.

Creating that feeling of belonging can leave a lot of leaders clueless at first, but with a little practice it becomes second nature. Plus, the act of building a culture on belonging can also give you valuable insight to what keeps people coming back.

Number one is creating a culture built for recognition. When substitutes feel valued and respected, they aren’t likely to forget that feeling—even if they’d like to forget some of the more awkward or challenging classroom moments of a hectic day. Encourage your permanent staff to watch out for substitutes and welcome them as warmly as you do. The more friendly names on the teacher roster a substitute can pick out, the more likely they are to accept an assignment for a teacher in need.

Finally, take down your own defenses a little and invite substitutes to share valuable feedback about their experiences. Their unique perspective can tell you a lot about how your culture and branding comes across in practice. Your curiosity matters.

Now for a little edtech connection, consider: How do substitutes get notified of an assignment? Ringing phones in the wee hours? Or a tech-savvy text message or push notification on a smartphone? Top-notch systems even automatically reach out to substitutes when a teacher submits a request for time off. Imagine the time saved and the benefit to all educators involved.

The truth is, it’s been hard to retain substitutes for a while now. By examining the benefits that already exist in your district, you may discover a new angle to advertise for the upcoming school year.

Follow-up resource: A staff absence management solution

Looking for a way to manage substitutes in your district? Red Rover to the rescue.


Erin Werra Erin Werra Edtech Thought Leader
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