March 5, 2021

6 Substitute Teacher Scheduling Tips to Boost Your Fill Rates

6 Substitute Teacher Scheduling Tips to Boost Your Fill Rates

Schools in the U.S. face the dual challenge of ensuring students’ instructional continuity without burning out their teachers.

On the one hand, there’s no “substitute” for learning continuity. If there’s a gap in instructional continuity, say, on account of teacher absence, it affects their learning substantially.

On the other hand, 66% of the teachers want to leave their job, and 15% of them go on to quit every year. The impact? American schools incur costs of $2.2 billion per year due to teacher attrition alone.

The primary reason for this high attrition? Teacher burnout. On average, teachers get 11 days of absences per year. If they post a higher number of absences, they are considered chronically absent.

How can schools ensure the learning continuity of their students without burning out their teachers?

The answer is efficient substitute management.

Scheduling substitutes efficiently preserves the learning continuity of students without putting undue pressure on teachers. However, that’s easier said than done.

Most schools struggle with scheduling substitutes. Unavailability of substitutes, late reporting of teacher absences, and tedious scheduling processes have resulted in half of all absences not being covered by substitutes. The good news is that this can be easily addressed.

Robust substitute teacher scheduling can improve fill rates, increase teacher satisfaction, and achieve student learning continuity simultaneously. Here’s how:

1. Analyze Your Teachers’ Absence Data
Seemingly random data can often throw up surprising insights into the behavior of people. Teacher absence data, for instance, can help administrators identify patterns in their absences.

That’s because a significant number of absences could be predictable, such as school field trips, personal anniversaries, and so on.

Besides the individual reasons, there could be other reasons, such as religious holidays that some of your teachers may be observing.

By identifying these patterns, you can schedule substitutes well in advance in anticipation of these absences.

2. Schedule Absences Better
The fill rates by substitutes tend to be low on Mondays and Fridays. Administrators have the highest difficulty finding the substitutes on these two days of the week. Although not all teacher absences can be planned, they can be managed better.

For one, teachers can schedule their absences outside of these two days to maximize the possibility of securing a replacement. Alternatively, when they absolutely have to take an absence on these days, the substitute scheduling process should be kicked off several days in advance, so that a substitute can be found well within time.

3. Report Absences Well In Advance Whenever Possible
In the case of planned absences, it’s easy to make arrangements for a substitute. Given ample time, schools can find a suitable substitute to fill in for the teacher’s absence.

Substitute teachers are always on the lookout for job offers and take up the first offer that comes their way. When they are notified of a job opportunity close to the absence day, they are more likely committed to another job.

If teachers report their absences early on, whenever possible, and schools kickstart the substitute scheduling process immediately, the fill rates increase dramatically.

4. Consider Using a Substitute Teacher Software
Automated substitute scheduling systems, like InstaSub, offer twin advantages: self-reporting and better reach to substitutes.

Self-reporting allows teachers to report their absences as soon as they make the absence decision. The substitute management system promptly kicks off the process of finding the substitute to fill in for the absence.

InstaSub, for instance, can broadcast the job offer to all the substitutes in your system simultaneously. As a result, more candidates receive the job offer, and someone quickly accepts it, filling in for the absence.

There are several more advantages of using substitute teacher software, including recordkeeping, detailed analytics, better management of the substitute pool, and more.

5. Proactively Engage Your Substitutes in Your School or District
The nature of their job makes it difficult for substitutes to forge a sense of loyalty to a school or district. They are likely working with several schools or districts simultaneously.

To instill a strong bond with your institution, you can invest in their professional development, and training. This demonstrates to them that your institution genuinely cares about them and their career. So, when you need them to fill in for an absence, they’ll be more likely to do it.

6. Consider Utilizing Webinar Technologies
It’s often possible that the substitute is willing to fill in, but cannot be physically present at the school for many reasons. It could be because they are located far, and the emergency absence hasn’t left them ample time to commute.

Perhaps, they belong to vulnerable groups that are at high risk of developing extreme complications from COVID-19. Their reason could be anything.

Enabling such substitutes to engage a class full of students without physically being present in the class can give schools access to a large number of substitutes that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Simplify Your Substitute Scheduling
Digital technologies are solving problems in almost every industry. It’s high time that schools started putting advanced technologies like automated substitute management software to good use and boost their fill rates.

To explore how InstaSub is uniquely designed to help you with these challenges, get in touch