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last minute absences

4 tips to handle last minute absences

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last minute teacher absences can be a scramble, especially when knowing that every passing hour decreases your chances of filling the gap. Our research shows the optimal window to post substitute teacher job openings is five or more days before the start of assignment with the highest fill-rate of 95%. Last minute absences on the other hand (posting one or two hours before assignment start) often have the lowest fill rate – dropping rates by up to 30% or more. 

For busy sub coordinators and educators juggling countless responsibilities, this uphill battle is all too familiar. Luckily, Swing is equipped with numerous solutions to help you save time and increase fill-rate — without the heavy lifting.

Swing Schools app

Traditional substitute coordination systems often require administrations to be focused on communicating with support and service companies. So when a teacher reports a new absence, the sub coordinator often waits to return to their desktop computer at the end of the day or wait for vendor office hours to open – resulting in a substantial delay from the time they learned about an absence to the time it was posted. This delay impacts the overall efficiency of the coordination process, potentially leading to unfilled requests and empty classrooms.

The Swing Schools app enables sub coordinators to instantly book and edit requests while on the move, eliminating the need to be tethered to a desktop computer. The app is user friendly and offers a range of features that enhance and simplify the substitute teacher management process. With the Swing Schools app, schools will have:

  • Effortless booking: Easily request and book substitute teachers across all your schools in just a few taps.
  • Improved fill-rates: Start posting sub requests hours earlier, giving more substitute teachers time to see your positions and fill them.
  • Real-time request management: Stay in control by viewing and editing active requests across all your schools from directly within the app — no calls, service requests, or support required.

Download the Swing Schools app on iOS or Android today.

Roving requests: anticipate unexpected absences

Even though unexpected teacher absences are a regular part of running a school, they can be challenging for administrators to manage. When a teacher calls out sick, admins often have less than two hours to find a substitute teacher for the day. However, it’s hard to find subs to cover classes with such short notice, with 2 out of 3 classrooms lacking coverage when a day-of request for a sub is issued. 

Roving subs are a type of substitute assignment where a particular school issues a request for a sub, but the details about the specific classroom, subject, and grade are only updated by the school the morning of or when the substitute arrives at the school. These types of requests allow administrators to plan for teacher absences without knowing exactly when a teacher will be out. 

For example, if a school’s historical data shows that Fridays before holiday weekends have more teacher absences than a regular Friday, then schools can request roving subs for these days. Once that Friday arrives, schools have the flexibility to place the substitute teacher in any classroom where there’s a need.

Substitute teachers, prefer to plan their work a few days to a week in advance and are rarely looking for work the morning of. Roving requests give subs more time to review and accept open roles. As a result, roving requests can average a 70-85% fill rate, over double that of last-minute requests, and only 11% of roving requests are canceled due to lack of need. And subs go into these assignments knowing that they will have to adapt to whatever the school needs that day.

Detailed requests

In addition to concerns about getting to campus on time, confusion about the specific nature of a last-minute request can cause some substitute teachers to avoid it (or, worse yet, accept the request and then cancel). The more important details you can include in the request, the better. This includes areas like:

  • Grade level and subject
  • Where to park
  • Where to check in
  • Any available lesson plans/notes for the day

Be sure to eliminate as much of the unknown as you can. Encourage your full time educators to have at least three “emergency” sub plans available for any unexpected absences. If a substitute teacher is picking up a last minute request, they’ll want to know that they are set up for success that day.

Communicate with teachers

Fostering a community of open communication and trust will allow for positive relationships between teachers and administrators. Establishing a culture of transparency will allow teachers to feel comfortable taking time off and alerting the school of any upcoming absences. 

Additionally, by having regular conversations with teachers, schools can predict absences ahead of time. For example, if a teacher does not feel well and leaves early on a Tuesday, schools can proactively predict that the absence will last the remainder of the week and enter the prolonged absence on the Swing platform.

Finally, go the extra mile to communicate with your subs. Let’s say you request a sub four weeks in advance — be sure to reach out and check in before the start of the assignment. Let them know how excited you are for them to be a part of your school community. Establishing positive rapport with your substitute teachers in advance allows them to feel excited and welcomed in your school community, reducing the chance of last minute cancellations, while  increasing the chances that they show up for their assignment.

By implementing these tips and tools, schools can navigate last-minute absences with greater ease and confidence, ensuring continuity in the classroom and peace of mind for all involved.

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Case Study

Green Dot

How Green Dot Public Schools found substitute teachers that meet their rigorous requirements