The Art and Science of Getting and Keeping Substitute Teachers


In the ever-evolving world of education, the role of substitute teachers has become indispensable. With full-time educators needing time off for various reasons such as professional development, personal leave, or health concerns, substitute teachers bridge the gap and maintain a stable learning environment for students. In this article, we will delve into the art and science of attracting and retaining high-quality substitute teachers.

1. The Art of Recruiting Substitute Teachers

a. Start with a Solid Job Description:

Create a clear and concise job description outlining the expectations, responsibilities, and qualifications necessary for a successful candidate. This will help you attract suitable applicants and set the stage for their understanding of their role.

b. Use a Variety of Platforms to Advertise Positions:

Ensure that you reach out through different avenues like job boards, social media platforms, and professional networking websites to increase your visibility and attract potential candidates.

c. Build Relationships with Schools and Universities:

Engage with local schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions to promote your substitute teaching opportunities. These relationships can serve as feeder systems into your school district.

d. Attend Job Fairs:

Job fairs are an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with potential candidates and discuss opportunities within your school district.

2. The Science of Retaining Substitute Teachers

a. Offer Competitive Compensation:

To retain top-quality substitute teachers, it’s essential to provide competitive compensation packages that include elements such as a competitive salary, access to healthcare benefits, and retirement plans.

b. Provide Professional Development Opportunities:

Foster a culture of growth by offering professional development workshops, webinars, and other training opportunities for substitute teachers.

c. Encourage Feedback:

Encouraging open lines of communication between substitute teachers and administrative staff helps build rapport while also allowing you to address any issues before they escalate.

d. Recognize Their Contributions:

Regularly acknowledging and appreciating the achievements and effort of substitute teachers can play an essential role in retention. This can be done through award ceremonies, personal notes, or verbal recognition in meetings.

3. Cultivating a Positive School Environment

a. Smooth Onboarding Process:

Ensure that substitute teachers are welcomed and provided with all necessary resources to help them succeed on their first day.

b. Mentorship Programs:

Connect new substitute teachers with experienced educators who can provide guidance, support, and encouragement.

c. Promote Collaboration Among Staff:

Foster a sense of teamwork within your staff by organizing collaborative activities, which helps create a supportive environment for everyone.

d. Investment in Resources and Tools:

Investing in educational resources and tools helps ensure that substitute teachers have everything they need to effectively perform their duties.


The art and science of getting and keeping substitute teachers is a multifaceted process that includes thoughtful recruitment strategies, creating a welcoming school environment, and prioritizing mentorship opportunities. Investing in these efforts helps secure high-quality educators who can maintain continuity in the classroom during regular teachers’ absence. Ultimately, maintaining a strong substitute teacher workforce ensures that students receive the quality education they deserve.

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