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Recruiting Substitutes Effectively to Fill District Absences

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School districts across the country have been experiencing a rise in the demand for substitute teachers. According to the Center for American Progress, enrollment in teacher preparation programs has declined steadily, dropping an astonishing 36% just between 2009 and 2014. With fewer Americans pursuing work in the education field, the number of individuals that would normally work in substitute positions in rapidly diminishing.

In addition to the decrease in potential substitute staff, Frontline Education’s A Year In Review: National 2015-16 Employee Absence & Substitute Data suggests that each teacher is absent and requires a substitute an average of 12 days per school year. Applying this statistic to each teacher in a school district creates a staggering number of absences that require substitute coverage. Districts must find more effective ways of recruiting enough qualified substitute staff to meet their needs for the school year.

While school districts may implement some form of substitute recruitment, many are not leveraging all available strategies. The most effective substitute recruitment efforts are those that utilize numerous, far-reaching methods. Recruiting exclusively through one or two channels creates unnecessary limitations on your recruiting and potentially alienates the best candidates. Use a diverse, multimedia approach including online job boards, the district newsletter, college hiring events, social media, community events, and district job fairs. When creating recruitment messages, be sure to customize the advertisement to each specific position, such as special education, high school science teacher, bilingual skills, and so on. Targeted messages are more effective at directly attracting candidates with the exact qualifications that your district requires.

As your school district takes advantage of all the recruitment methods available, also direct your recruitment efforts inward by considering candidates that already have demonstrated experience or interest in your district. Recruit teachers whom have retired from the district, parents active in your schools, and candidates that have applied for full-time positions. These individuals have established relationships with your students and a vested interest in your district, making them excellent candidates for substitute positions.

Most school districts recruit for substitute talent during the months leading up to the school year. Recruiting throughout these months is vital as it bolsters your substitute numbers for the early months of the school year. However, substitute turnover will quickly diminish those numbers, resulting in a limited pool of substitute personnel unless recruitment efforts are maintained. For the best results, your district should recruit throughout the year. By recruiting during the entire school year, your substitute pool is constantly replenished with new talent, compensating for substitute turnover and increasing your substitute numbers for unexpectedly high absence scenarios.

Deploying an effective substitute recruitment campaign is a considerable investment of time and resources. As with any investment, your district will want to carefully track its progress to ensure that it is producing the desired results. Measure the amount of responses from each recruitment strategy, as well as how many of those responses result in successful hires. With this information, your district can redirect resources from unsuccessful methods to the more successful ones, further improving the efficacy of these strategies.

In recent years, many school districts have turned to outside partnerships to improve their substitute recruitment and program management. One such partner, ESS | Source4Teachers, is capable of managing substitute programs more effectively than districts can accomplish internally, while simultaneously relieving districts of costs, administrative duties, and freeing up valuable resources.

Over the last 17 years, ESS | Source4Teachers has developed the nation’s most dynamic substitute recruitment program. Our team creates a custom tailored, year-round, locally-based recruitment campaign for each of our partner school districts. This campaign consists of multimedia recruitment efforts including online postings, printed media, career fairs, colleges and universities, and local workforce partnerships. Additionally, ESS | Source4Teachers recruitment efforts are created specifically for each position the district needs.

For more information on how ESS | Source4Teachers can improve substitute recruiting in your district, please contact our team at 877.983.2244.