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How Substitutes Help Maintain Consistency And Continuity In Charter Schools

How Substitutes Help Maintain Consistency And Continuity In Charter Schools

The Pandemic changed the face of education, perhaps indelibly. There has not been a pivot of this magnitude since FRIENDS tried to carry Ross Gellar’s new couch into his apartment! Since the start of 2020, parents have gained unparalleled access to their child’s classes and that bell will not be unrung.

According to Forbes[1]:

"...of all the shifts in education occasioned by the pandemic, perhaps the most significant and the one with the most far-reaching consequences is the greater involvement of parents in their children’s schooling.” 

Most people agree that parent-involvement plays a key part in a student’s success, yet it also places added stress on school leaders, especially principals of charter schools. School choice is alive and well in the United States and schools need to keep their customers happy.


What Makes A Good Substitute?

When a teacher cannot be in the classroom, it matters who steps in to teach students. Substitute teachers should not be just "babysitters;” they should be actual educators who can help keep students on track and engaged in their learning. Schools need experienced and highly qualified substitute teachers who are trained in the specific needs of their school, such as special education and bilingual education, in order to maintain consistency and continuity.

What To Do When Substitutes Dry Up

What happens when quality substitutes cannot be found? Teachers are asked to cover class for their colleagues, often at the expense of planning time. Ideally, these teachers are certified in the area they are covering, however, that is not always possible. When teachers are pulled to cover vacancies, that is time they are not grading papers, enhancing lessons, meeting with parents, and recharging their batteries. Consequently, they are forced to bring work home, run low on energy, and burn out at an accelerated rate. 

What happens when schools run out of teachers to cover for their colleagues? That’s where administrators come in- finding a principal, assistant principal, or dean of students teaching a class is becoming more and more prevalent. On the other hand, administrators that are pulled into classrooms are not able to fulfill their own responsibilities, such as overseeing the instructional program, conducting teacher evaluations, and communicating with stakeholders. School staff can only be spread so thin, before breaking. 

In extreme circumstances, which are becoming all too commonplace, special education, related arts, and English Language Learning classes are being canceled to free those teachers up to cover core classes such as English, math, science, and social studies, which can potentially take schools out of compliance and create issues with meeting IEPs. Recently, at a public school in Pennsylvania, a principal sent an email to all “non-core” teachers, alerting them to the “potential cancellations in programming due to staff absences in the spring,” and their obligation to fulfill “basic student supervision needs.” What message does this send to teachers? 

  • “I am not teaching what I went to school to teach.”

  • “I’m not certified to teach what I am teaching.”

  • “My program is not valued.”

Parent Concerns

Furthermore, parents are going to begin asking why their child has not had art in several weeks, or why there has not been a certified math teacher in their child’s advanced math class. Maintaining continuity and consistency isn’t just about the teacher in the room, but extends to the curriculum as well. “Kids need continuous exposure to the curriculum,” says the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

The Role Staffing Agencies Play

Investing in a schools’ substitute teachers is key to the success of the school. That’s where hiring an experienced, reliable staffing company comes in; using a company that exclusively focuses on educational staffing ups the chances of success even more. A strong company can offer a personalized approach, provide a thorough onboarding process and customized orientation for substitute teachers. They should go above and beyond to ensure a good fit between the substitute teacher and the school's culture, demographics, and specific needs. Educational staffing agencies understand the importance of finding substitutes who can adapt quickly and think on their feet. 

Ultimately, when a staffing agency can work with schools effectively to customize a strong substitute teacher pool, everyone benefits. Students build relationships with people they encounter on a regular basis. Safe, stable environments allow students the opportunity to develop the relationships and trust necessary to comfortably explore and learn from their surroundings. Parents, principals, and other school leaders can take comfort knowing that their students are receiving consistent, quality education, even when a teacher is absent. 

How to Hire and Maintain The Best Substitutes

Do you need to reduce teacher burnout and absenteeism? Do you want to improve general staff morale and school performance? In our new ebook, The Power of Quality Substitutes: How Hiring and Maintaining the Best Substitutes Can Improve Your Charter School, we look at how proactive substitute hiring can yield impressive results for your charter school. Don't reinvent the wheel — use our tips to help make quality substitutes one less thing you worry about, and reap the benefits to your school! Download to learn more!

the power of substitutes

[1] Forbes. There's No Going Back Now Parents Have Seen Behind the Classroom Curtain. Retrieved 6/28/2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorrison/2021/06/28/theres-no-going-back-now-parents-have-seen-behind-the-classroom-curtain/?sh=c6694af7889b