About the Author: Chioma Ellis is a former K-12 administrator and classroom teacher.
There’s a lot of planning that goes into the beginning of a school year. While you’ve likely completed the bulk of your annual planning, it’s crucial to set aside time to make a plan to help both new and returning educators succeed.
Here are four staffing strategies to consider implementing in the run up to the new academic year.
Communicate with current teachers
By the end of the summer, I had generally completed most of my work around professional development (PD) planning, curriculum changes, new full-time hires, implementing new site procedures, and things of that nature.
So, I used the last weeks of summer to make sure my staff was crystal clear on schedules and any new school-wide protocols, including:
- Daily and quarterly schedules
- Professional development plans
- Submission deadlines
- What supplies are needed
- Bell schedules
In years when I had the budget, I also liked to send my teachers a welcome back care package. This included supplies like markers, pencils, and a customized notebook. I found that this type of gesture was well received and helped improve morale and generate excitement heading into the school year.
Meet with new teachers
In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, I’d do one final round of phone calls with my new teachers, and, time permitting, try to meet up either individually or with a small group over coffee. I liked to get a sense for what my new educators were looking forward to in the upcoming year, and also make sure they knew what to expect during the first day(s) of school.
This is also a good time to launch any teacher shadowing or mentorship programs that you may have created. If possible, get new teachers together with a few veteran educators for a warm welcome.
Reach out to the community
As a K-12 administrator, you serve more than just your students and staff — parents and community members are a big part of the equation as well. A helpful way to build community rapport is to have new teachers and/or select returning staff meet with key parents.
Consider doing a roundtable discussion so your educators can learn why families send their children to your school, what parents like about your school, and what they may like to see done differently.
These sort of community events can help get buy-in from important stakeholders, which will go a long way toward your success.
Finalize substitute staffing coverage
Whether you’ll be using an internal pool of substitute teachers, an external provider, or a combination of the two, ideally you’ve already finalized most of your substitute teacher plans for the upcoming academic year. At this point in the summer, I shifted my focus to ensuring coverage for specific high-need days.
First, I always tried to get extra people in the building to support on the first days of school, especially in kindergarten. If your budget allows, securing a few extra substitute teachers for those first few days can be very helpful.
Now is also a good time to lock in your staffing plans for PD days. Consider making substitute teacher requests for PD days before the start of the academic year to ensure those absences get covered.
I also made sure that we finalized our substitute teacher policies. For example, we worked with a staffing agency, so it was important to communicate where their subs should check in, our go-to staff for questions, and procedures of that nature. We also did our best to make sure that all full-time teachers had updated substitute teacher plans (we asked our teachers to create a sub folder to store important materials) to set substitute teachers up to be successful.