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How can schools use roving substitute teachers?

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

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. In fact, according to data from Swing, last-minute requests have the lowest fill rate at 36%. This means that 2 out of 3 classrooms don’t have coverage when a day-of request for a sub is issued. 

Last-minute requests may go unfulfilled, but the need for last-minute subs isn’t going anywhere. Schools and districts need another solution to get classrooms covered and keep student learning on track.

Enter: roving substitute teachers

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.

Why roving requests work for subs

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 have a 74% 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.

How schools are using roving subs

Several of Swing’s school partners have reduced the pain of last-minute sub needs thanks to roving requests. For example, a mid-sized district in Southern California has a lot of last-minute absences because they were being cautious about over-requesting subs. Once they started issuing roving sub requests based on their historical absence data, their fill rate increased and they began issuing ~80 requests a week through Swing. 

Another mid-sized school district in Texas uses roving requests conservatively to avoid cancellations. They started with 4 roving requests per week, scaled up to 8 per week, and never had to cancel a roving request.

At Swing, we know the value of roving subs and support these types of requests on our platform. You can even issue requests for multiple roving subs at once. Find out how to issue a roving sub request for your school or district here.

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