The best back-to-school procedures are those that make the whole year run more smoothly. What better time than now to review your plan to help substitute teachers feel welcome and prepared in a brand-new environment.
Here are three procedures to implement at the beginning of the year that will help your school retain your top subs.
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1. Make entering and leaving easy
A substitute teacher’s interaction with the front desk should be clear, quick, and informative. Spend a moment before the year starts to connect with whomever is responsible for greeting visiting teachers. A streamlined plan for how subs enter and leave the building can simplify the process.
Some things to discuss include:
- Classroom keys and materials: Is there a clear procedure for giving your subs the correct keys and other important classroom materials?
- School-wide behavioral expectations and emergency protocol: Consider handing out a standard folder to all daily substitutes so this information is the first thing they see after entering your building. A school map, plus any schoolwide expectations (reward programs, for instance) should be included. Providing that important information in one place (rather than counting on individual classroom teachers to piece it together) guarantees that there is never a question of where to find it. Have subs return the binder at the end of the day.
- Support staff contact info: Subs unfamiliar with your school and/or the department they’re working in that day benefit from having names and contact information for one or two people who can answer questions and lend support.
2. Streamline technology
From Smart Boards to attendance sheets, technology is a big part of the modern classroom experience. Make this potentially stress-inducing part of the job a little bit easier for subs by streamlining technology where you can: make sure instructional materials come standard with each piece of equipment, spell out simple instructions for attendance procedures, and create a dedicated password for substitutes (so they don’t have to use teachers’ personal login information).
3. Organize a substitute binder
Sync the format for sub binders across campus (or even across entire districts). Think through exactly what should go into a substitute binder, then digitally distribute a template to teachers (maybe during the first week of classroom prep) so forms will be easy and convenient to complete.
- A binder cover
- An introductory letter that outlines classroom procedures and welcomes the substitute teacher
- Basic rules and procedures for the classroom (ie: bathroom pass procedure, discipline procedure, lunch recess procedure, tardy procedure)
- A daily bell schedule
- Seating charts and attendance sheets for every class
- Detailed lesson plan outlines
- Forms, including hall passes, disciplinary notes, etc
- A feedback sheet where the substitute can take notes about the day
- A variety of Early Finisher handouts (for those who complete assignments early)
Finally, provide teachers with uniform, brightly colored notebooks to store these forms. Not only will your teachers find this helpful, but substitutes will appreciate that they’ll find, for example, a yellow sub binder in each classroom they enter.
These procedures may take some work on the front end, but will set a protocol in place for effectiveness all year long!
Looking for more ways to support substitute teachers? Check out How to Prepare Your Substitute Teachers for Success in the Classroom.